Honors Banquet draws crowd to recognize students accomplishments

Lane Riggs

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Students, sponsers, and guests sit at decorated and reserved tables at the Honors Recognition Banquet in the D.L. Ligon Coliseum on April 22. Photo by Kayla White.

Students, sponsors, and guests sit at decorated and reserved tables at the Honors Recognition Banquet in the D.L. Ligon Coliseum on April 22. Photo by Kayla White.

More than 200 students received recognition, including two who received the university’s highest awards, at the Honors Banquet on April 22 at 6:30 p.m. in D. L. Ligon Coliseum. These academic awards included outstanding student awards, academic honors by the colleges, and the Clark and Hardin Scholars.

Students, and organizations, were presented with an opportunity to showcase their abilities and accomplishments. Those accomplishments, according to students, were the product of hard work and dedication. 

“Success is no accident. It’s a sacrifice and a love for what you’re doing. I’m grateful my hard work was recognized, and I was encouraged to do and be the very best I can be,” said Mary Martha Brady, 2015 Hardin Scholar at the banquet. “This school is a great community that encourages students to be a success, the teachers and professors are an encouragement and provided me with a renewed drive to graduate.”

Political science and Spanish sophomore Luke Allen, the Clark Scholar recipient, is a part of the cycling team, Spanish club, Redwine Honors, Golden Key International Honors, Model United Nations, and Student Government Association. In addition to the Clark Scholar, Allen was presented with the Outstanding Sophomore Award. Both of these awards

Rahul Joshi, finance freshman, is awarded the Outstanding Freshman Man award by University President Suzanne Shipley at the Honors Recognition Banquet in the D.L. Ligon Coliseum on April 22. Photo by Kayla White.

Rahul Joshi, finance freshman, is awarded the Outstanding Freshman Man award by University President Suzanne Shipley at the Honors Recognition Banquet in the D.L. Ligon Coliseum on April 22. Photo by Kayla White.

together, Allen said, have made him feel honored.

“There are a lot of good students who deserve the Clark Scholar, and I feel like there’s a lot to live up to since I was the one who won,” Allen said. “It’s given me motivation to continue working hard and try and fulfill my potential.”

Allen said he hopes to graduate from the school first, and then attend Law school. During his time here, however, Allen said his favorite thing is that the professors care about students, and try to progress student’s achievements.

“They want to do everything they can to get you where you want to be in life,” Allen said. “I would recommend the school to anyone else, because when you’re here, the sky’s the limit because professors are all behind you.”

Mass communication senior Megan Piehler received the Hardin Scholar, the top academic award available to students. In addition to this award, Piehler also won the Alumni Association Award and Outstanding Senior Woman. 

English junior Andrea Mendoza Lespron, recipient of the Woman of the Year award, is in agreement with Allen. Not only do professors encourage students’ success, Lespron says, but the community does, too.

“I love it here, it’s a small school and so you meet almost everyone,” Lespron said. “Part of the reason I was able to get into many organizations is because the school is small and many of the organizations make it easy to join.”

Lespron explained that she was involved with the school this year, and organizations including Redwine Honors, English Honor Society, Student Government Association, Arts and Literature Society, Wesley Foundation, Model United Nations, and Eureca. These organizations, along with providing new experiences and plenty of opportunities, are also the driving force behind nominating Lespron for Woman of the Year.

The dinner table arrangement of all the food that was set out for the Honors Banquet held in the D.L. Ligon Coliseum, April 22. Photo by Kayla White

The dinner table arrangement of all the food that was set out for the Honors Banquet held in the D.L. Ligon Coliseum, April 22. Photo by Kayla White

“Some English professors nominated me, and receiving it was an honor,” Lespron said. “It makes me feel like I’m right on track, like all the efforts and sleepless nights were worth it.”

And those efforts are what members of departments like student affairs, academic affairs, university advancement, facility services, Clark Student Center, and student development and orientation worked to highlight at the Honors Banquet.

Those members organizing the banquet started working at the start of the spring semester, and with the help of  different colleges, the banquet was molded into a well organized function that provided students with a memorable experience.

“It’s a positive event, and the faculty is glad to work together,” Dean of Students Matthew Park said. “The departments all come together through collaboration and communication to create a banquet that flows seamlessly.”

In Park’s opinion, the banquet did flow, even with the addition of several new components, such as the Howard Farrell Community Excellence Award, valued at $500 and awarded to Jesse Clyde Brown,  and framed certificates for awards granted by the colleges instead of medallions in previous years.

“There were no set backs, and it seemed to flow well,” Park said. “Everybody did a fantastic job.”

Although 402 people attended the Friday night event in D.L. Ligon, even more people, about 435, attended the Athletics Banquet the night before. Still, Park said, both banquets served their purpose; to celebrate students’ success at the university.

And, Brady said, “The price of success is hard work, and it requires the best of ourselves be put to the task at hand.

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