Students honored in seventh annual awards ceremony

Members of the Colby community congregated in Lorimer Chapel on Monday, May 5, for the seventh annual Colby Awards Program, honoring students, faculty and staff across disciplines for their academic achievement and service to the College.

In 2009, academic departments, athletics, student organizations and Student Affairs came together to hold, as Associate Vice President for Student Affairs Barbara E. Moore put it, “a special annual event to honor the very best of Colby.”

While many academic departments have and still present internal awards prior to the ceremony, virtually every one—along with Athletics, the Colby Student Government Association (SGA), Pugh Community Board (PCB) and Student Programming Board (SPB)—recognizes its recipients at the event. “There was an identified need for a campus-wide celebration,” Moore said. “We felt that there needed to be a moment for everyone to come together and celebrate achievement at Colby.”

In his opening speech, President David A. Greene remarked on the honor of handing out these awards, reflecting on the individual contributions—both civic and scholarly—that these prizes signified. He added, with a bit of humor, that he had never won anything himself, a statement that would soon prove false after being awarded the Colby Service Award, which is, according to the award’s criterion, given annually by members of the senior class to a member of the College’s administrative or support staff for “exceptional positive influence and contributions to the lives of Colby students.”

Assistant Director of Campus Life Sam Helm ’12 received recognition from both SGA and SPB, earning the SGA Progressive Leadership Award and the SPB Faculty/Staff Recognition Award, respectively.

Director of Dining Services Larry Llewellyn was also honored for his work with SGA, and Professor of Russian Julie W. de Sherbinin won PCB’s Commitment to Multiculturalism Award for her commitment to multicultural inclusion, education and awareness, specifically for her continued collaboration on SHOUT! Week for her role as Faculty Allies Coordinator and her work with Colby’s exchange with Lomonosov Moscow State University’s School of Journalism.

This year, the senior class selected Associate Professor of History John Turner for the Charles Bassett Teaching Award, established in 1993 to honor a member of the College faculty. Turner will present a final lecture to the senior class next week and will have his name memorialized on a plaque in Lovejoy.

Greene also recognized Margaret Bower ’15, who was elected as senior class speaker for this year’s commencement.

There were two new awards in this year’s academic program. For the department of African-American Studies, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Professor of Sociology and African-American Studies Cheryl Townsend Gilkes awarded Tionna Haynes ’15 the Anna Julia Cooper and W.E.B. Du Bois Distinguished Scholarship Award for earning the highest achievement in the major. Assistant Professor of Anthropology Winifred L. Tate presented Cassandra Smith ’15 with the Eitan Shalom Green Award in Anthropology for demonstrated scholarly insight and a passion for exploring both anthropological theory and methodology.

Kara Witherill ’15 received a $30,000 Fulbright Grant to work as a teacher in Germany, and Sujie Zhu ’15 won the 2015 Watson Grant to explore cross-cultural improvisational performance in Senegal, Japan, India and Poland. Christopher Abbott ’15 won $15,000 through the Colby Entrepreneurial Alliance Business Competition for his startup, Sprout, which designs and manufactures malting equipment for the home brewer. Haynes won The MLK Colby College “Drum Major for Justice” Award; and Guillermo Sapaj ’15 and Benard Kibet ’18 both won grants through Davis Projects for Peace—Sapaj for his work in Chile and Kibet for his effort to build a classroom and improve water safety in his home village in Kenya.

Greene concluded the event by awarding SGA President Justin Deckert ’15 with the Condon Medal for citizenship and contribution to College life. During the presentation, Greene noted that in his 30 years of higher education, he had never seen a student government as strong as the one under Deckert’s leadership—citing his administration’s tireless effort to increase transparency and enact tangible change. Deckert received the award to a standing ovation, and according to Moore, this is the first time in the Program’s seven years that both College and SGA presidents have won the respective citizenship prizes.

Please click on the following link for the full list of award recipients.

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