Catawba honors students, faculty, staff at awards convocation

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 2, 2024

Catawba College News Service

SALISBURY — Catawba College held its annual Spring Awards Convocation on April 18 in the Omwake-Dearborn Chapel celebrating students, faculty and staff accomplishments and impact on the campus and in the community.

The members of the women’s swim team had an overall GPA of 3.93 for the Fall semester. This is not only the highest women’s team GPA at Catawba, but also the highest in all Division II for the fall. The men’s swim team also ranked the highest GPA for the fall in all of Division II. Both teams were named Scholar All-America by the CSCAA.

The men’s tennis team had the highest GPA for a men’s athletic team at Catawba with a 3.82 for the fall semester.

Five students spent countless hours researching and preparing for debates for the North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities Ethics Bowl.

These are the types of students who were recognized at the 2024 Spring Awards Convocation and are an example of the students you will find at Catawba College.

More than 50 students, faculty and staff were honored for their vast array of academic, leadership and service achievements, as well as their commitment to making Catawba College and the community better. The ceremony spotlights scholarship, character, culture and service — the qualities upon which Catawba College was founded.

Student Government Association

Suzie Rodriquez received the Student Government President’s Award and was presented with a gavel, awarded to the retiring president at the end of the academic year. She served as SGA president during the 2023-24 academic year. The other outgoing officers were also recognized include Lauren Swallow, vice president; Leon Heiermann, treasurer; and Emma Nantz, secretary. 

New SGA officers who will serve during the 2024-25 year were identified as: Katelyn Cothren, president; Emma Jackson, vice president; and Mason McLain, treasurer.

The new Ms. and Mr. Catawba, elected by the student body to serve the college in the 2024-25 academic year, were announced. They are Lillie Martin and Zac Smith.

Service to the Community & Leadership Awards

The David Hoyle Award for Outstanding Service in Student Activities is awarded each year to a student who has made exemplary contributions in all areas of student activities. This year the award was presented to Colleen Pellington.

Suzie Rodriquez was awarded The Sara Cook Award for Student Involvement. This award was established by Student Affairs in recognition of the work of Board of Trustee Member Sara Cook and her role in alcohol education, policy, and programs that have changed the campus culture of student life at Catawba. It is presented annually to the member of the student body who demonstrates a concern for the well-being of fellow students through student life programs outside the classroom. The Office of Student Affairs nominates candidates and makes final choices on the award winner. 

Sara Hennings was awarded the Francis Decker Wentz Award. Established by the Corriher-Linn-Black Library staff in honor of the late Frances Wentz, the award is presented annually to an upperclass student(s) who demonstrates a real concern and aptitude for theory and practice of library science and service.   

Dr. Chad Betters, chair of the Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program and Department of Sport and Health Sciences, was the recipient of the Kenneth Clapp Tri-Delta Award. Established by the Class of 2000 in recognition of the work of Dr. Ken Clapp, chaplain emeritus, it is presented annually to a member of the faculty or staff who demonstrates dedication, devotion, and dependability. 

The President’s Award for Community Service was presented to Dr. Christine Lynn, Ketner School of Business associate dean. The award is given annually to a member of the campus community who has distinguished himself or herself in significant service to the local Rowan-Salisbury community. The recipient is selected through nominations from the faculty and staff with final selection from the nominations being made by the college president. In addition to a certificate, a donation is made in their honor to a local charity of their choice.

The Paul Fisher Service Award is presented to a student and a faculty or staff member who has made the greatest contribution throughout the year in service to others. Miles Lester is this year’s student recipient, and Dr. Christine Lynn is the staff recipient.

Academic Achievement Awards

The Hurley School of Arts and Sciences, humanities division:

The Rebecca H. Frantz Essay Prize, awarded annually to the writer of an essay judged by faculty to be the most original, was awarded to Sydney Cockerham for her essay “Why Overcomplicate It?”. 

Kinsey Bishop received the Bethany and Aidan Sinnott Poetry Award, given to the student who demonstrates the most significant potential as a poet. 

Justin Gerstle received the Martha Morehead Award for outstanding single work or contribution to The Arrowhead for his poem “I Blame Everything on Jackson Pollock.”

The Rice, Andrews, Young Award was presented to Emma Nantz and is awarded to a foreign language major or minor who has made the highest grade in their foreign language studies.

The Elisabeth Scranton History Award, given to the student who best represents the ideals of liberal education and scholarship in history, was presented to Anna Armstrong. 

Lauren Hackler received the Religion Award, given by the ministers of the Southern Conference of the United Church of Christ to a junior or senior in recognition of academic excellence in Religion and Philosophy.

Lauren Hackler also received the Wentz Philosophy Award, given in memory of Dr. Bruce A. Wentz, a long-time teacher of philosophy at Catawba, recognizing a junior or senior who has shown excellence in the study of philosophy.

This year, Catawba College was honored again to be invited to compete in the North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities Ethics Bowl. Five students chosen to represent Catawba spent countless hours researching and preparing for the debates. Jennifer Carbajal, Rachel Davis, Margaret Thurman, Claire Vinskus, Damir Zababuryn and Dr. Norris Feeney, coordinator for the team, were honored for their hard work and fine representation of Catawba College.

The Hurley School of Arts and Sciences, science division:

The Leader in Environmental Stewardship is awarded to a student and a faculty or staff member who exhibits outstanding leadership and commitment to environmental stewardship. This year’s student recipient is Madison Jaynes and Ken Clifton is the staff recipient. 

Jaden Hurdle received the Braun Award in Physics, given to the student or students showing the most meritorious work in physics.

The Chemistry Prize was awarded to Mariah Lambert and represents the senior who best represents character, scholarship and excellence in chemistry.

Sofia Beard was the recipient of the Freshman Achievement Award, giving recognition of outstanding scholastic achievement in chemistry during the freshman year.

The Biochemistry Award, presented to a biochemistry major for outstanding scholastic achievement during their senior year, was awarded to Hunter Sjobom.

The Environment and Sustainability Award is given to a senior class member who best demonstrated dedication, inspiration and academic achievement in environmental science. This year’s recipient is Kaycee Doherty. 

Kasey Hahn received the Daniel E. Kirk Biology Award, presented to the senior who has exhibited outstanding service and achievement in the department of biology.         

The Biology Service Award, recognizing the student who demonstrates outstanding leadership and exceptional service, was presented to Samuel Vincent.

The Goodman School of Education and Hurley School of Arts and Sciences, social sciences division:

The Shirley L. Haworth Prospective Teacher Award is presented to an education major or minor who has demonstrated outstanding potential as a teacher. This year Shaelyn Rowan and Juanita Poplin.

Sommer Gray received the Cynthia B. Osterhus Award for outstanding contribution to the Student North Carolina Association of Educators.

The Roberts Senior Psychology Award for outstanding contribution to the activities of the psychology department was presented to Berta Vidal Carnero.

Harmony Speer was the recipient of The Bolick Sociology Award for outstanding achievement in the field of sociology and the demonstration of the Sociological Imagination.

The Shuford School of the Performing and Fine Arts:

The Chairman’s Award in Music, in recognition of significant contributions to the music department and promise of future success in the music field, was awarded to Josh Page.

Julia Rockwell received the Augustin Daly Award for Outstanding Student in Theatre Arts.

The Ketner School of Business:

The Pioneer Award is given in recognition of a student’s contributions to The Pioneer and this year it goes to Lauren Hackler. 

The Dr. Karl E. Hales Communication Award goes to Sofia Hernandez Mera.

The Sherrill & Smith Award in Business Administration for the best scholastic record in accounting goes to Kelly Havens.

The Millard F. Wilson Award for Excellence in Business, in recognition of outstanding service to and academic achievement in the Ketner School of Business, goes to Emma Nantz. 

The Mathematics Award for outstanding ability, scholarship and interest in mathematics goes to Morgan Childress. 

The Paul L. Baker Computer Science Award in recognition of outstanding ability, scholarship and interest in computer science goes to Leon Heiermann.

The School of Health Sciences and Human Performance:

The Whitley Award given to a junior or senior female student in recognition of outstanding academic achievement and service to the Department of Sport and Health Sciences went to Veronika Poliakova. 

Paul Dekester received The William L. Russell Award, given to the junior or senior male student in recognition of outstanding academic achievement and service to the Department of Sport and Health Sciences.

The Department of Nursing Clinical Practice Excellence Award for superior delivery of patient-centered care and leadership in the clinical setting was awarded to Mikayla Patterson.

The Nursing Academic Excellence Award presented to the student with the highest GPA in the Nursing program went to Jenna Harris and Gracelyn Thomason.

The Dean N. Grove Award presented to a student-athlete majoring in math or science, who demonstrates leadership abilities in one of these fields as well as athletics, went to Kasey Hahn and Leon Heiermann.

Awards of Special Merit and Achievement 

Leon Heiermann and Dr. Scott Morton received the Algernon Sydney Sullivan awards, given by the New York Southern Society for the purpose of establishing a permanent reminder of the noblest human qualities as expressed and followed in the life of its first president, Algernon Sydney Sullivan. A committee consisting of students and faculty of Catawba College has chosen two people, one student and one staff member, to receive these awards in recognition of spiritual qualities practically applied to daily living and with the belief that these people will uphold the spiritual standards of Catawba College by their noble characteristics. 

The 2023-24 Staff Member of the Year is Debbie Insley, wellness promotion director. This award is an annual recognition by the members of the student body of a Catawba College staff member who has been outstanding in their work for the college. 

Dr. Megan Flocken, assistant professor of philosophy, is the 2023-24 professor of the year. This award is presented to a faculty member selected by a popular vote of the students. The recipient is chosen for those qualities that the students believe represent the best in classroom rapport, evidence of student concern and intellectual stimulation. 

DeAngelo Moore, IT support specialist, is the recipient of the Louise Tucker Staff Council Award, given to a staff member who demonstrates outstanding work ethic and performance in his or her area. Nominations are made by members of the faculty and staff and the recipient is selected by a vote of the staff council. 

The President’s Award for Staff Excellence is given annually to a member of the Catawba College staff who has distinguished him or herself in achieving excellence in job performance and has contributed to strengthening the community spirit on campus. The award recipient is selected through nominations to the staff council from the entire faculty and staff. The president makes the final selection of the recipient. This year’s recipient of the President’s Award for Staff Excellence is Cathy Green, Center for the Environment director of operations.

The Swink Prize for Outstanding Classroom Teaching was presented to Erin Dougherty, associate professor of costume design and technology. This award goes to a member of the Catawba College faculty who has shown consistent excellence in teaching. It was established by a gift from the late Hearne Swink, former Rowan County resident, an official with Cannon Mills Company, and a friend of the college. The recipient is nominated by members of the faculty and chosen by the faculty senate. 

The Trustee Award for Outstanding Contribution to Catawba College is given annually to the individual deemed to have made an outstanding contribution in service to Catawba College. The recipient is recommended by the Catawba College Faculty Senate and endorsed by the Board of Trustees Governance Committee. The award is presented by the college on behalf of the board of trustees. This year’s recipient of the Trustee Award is Dr. Valerie Rakes, nursing department chair.

The 2023-2024 Whitener Medal recipients are Emma Nantz and Leon Heiermann. The Whitener Medals are given annually in memory of the late Dr. Edgar Whitener of High Point, North Carolina, who served as president of the Catawba Board of Trustees from 1925 to 1944. The medals are presented to the man and woman in the graduating class who combine in themselves, in the highest degree, the qualities of character, leadership and scholarship. The faculty make a selection from among three men and three women who have received the highest votes in an election in which only the members of the junior and senior classes may vote. This year’s recipients will be presented with their medals during the Commencement ceremony on May 4.