2020 Distinguished Leadership Awards
Denison annually recognizes graduating seniors who have demonstrated exemplary leadership and service to the University through their involvement in student organizations, in co-curricular activities, on Denison’s staff, and as athletes and scholars. Nominations of deserving students are made by faculty, staff, and student peers. In selecting the recipients, we look for evidence of an enduring commitment to enhancing the quality of life in our community. The students we honor today have made a clear, noticeable and lasting impact on Denisonians’ lives through their leadership efforts.
James M. Baker Jr.
- Varsity Men’s Swimming and Diving
- Residential Communities, Community Advisor
- University Conduct Board, Member
James, as a Denison swimmer, you have made your mark as a distance specialist in the grueling 500- and 1650-meter races, including all-American performances in both events at the NCAA meet for the past two years. Those races require extraordinary mental and physical self-discipline which have been your trademark strengths. You have helped others learn these skills as well. A nominator wrote that you “challenge your peers to be better – to sleep and fuel their bodies in healthy ways, to strive for academic excellence, and to be disciplined and become their best selves.” You noted that “leadership isn’t necessarily something that I have to reach for but instead could be something that others see and wish to replicate.” In short you lead by example.
You have also served as a member of the University Conduct Board, a Community Advisor and as member of the Senior Class Leadership and Class Gift Committees. In those roles, you are appreciated for your creativity and compassion, your maturity, and most of all your modesty. Thank you for working so tirelessly to both support and influence your peers and improve the Denison community.
- Denison International Student Association, VP and Design Chair
- The Denisonian, Photo Editor
- Studio Art, Photo Teaching Assistant
Shanti, inquisitive, enthusiastic, and empathetic, you are an unflappable force of nature in the most delightful way, always smiling. When you see a need, you leap in to address it — like rallying other Denisonian editors to create a series of workshops to provide more training for student journalists.
Through your art, photography, and graphic design, you have made an indelible mark on campus. As a photographer, you have a visual eye that allows you to see the world in ways that many do not. With your camera, you have captured critical moments on campus and have helped steer campus in positive directions. You bring art into the world to stand up for what is right.
You’ve mentored your peers through DISA, the Denisonian, and the Pre-Orientation for Students Coming from Abroad. You have changed lives, as one nominator writes, bringing joy to those impacted by your work or mentored by you.
Shanti, thank you for listening so deeply to fellow Denisonians and for converting those words, stories, and experiences into powerful art that unites, includes, and transforms the community.
- Political Science, Fellow
- Sustained Dialogue, President, Public Relations
- Sigma Lambda Gamma National Sorority, Inc., Vice President
Libby, Denisonians who know you well describe you as caring, humble, and intentional. You have committed your time and talents to leading Sustained Dialogue as its President and helped advance constructive conversations at Denison. Sustained Dialogue members praise your efforts to bring together diverse groups of people around difficult subjects in order to listen to new perspectives and consider innovative solutions to community-based problems; an example of this was when you presented facilitator training for last year’s Sexual Respect Dinners.
As a Political Science Fellow and Women and Gender Studies office assistant, you have built community in academic spaces. You have served Sigma Lambda Gamma National Sorority, Inc. in several different executive roles, mentoring younger members and coordinating events to bring the organization’s beneficial work to the entire campus.
As you transition from Denison to your new position with Nielsen, you take with you lessons learned through leadership. You observed that our best work often comes from an acknowledgement of imperfection, and humbly remarked that there is learning to be gained by leaning into failure. You remind us, Libby, of the gifts of imperfection by your example, of honesty, bravery, and encouraging others to own their truths and honor the truths of others.
Nathaniel O. Beach
- Denison Campus Governance Association, Speaker of the House
- College Republicans, President
- Denisonian, Editor, Writer
As Vice President and then President of the College Republicans, you worked hard to manage the day-to-day functions of the club, while also serving as a thoughtful representative of the Republican party. You did this work amidst turbulent political times, both on and off campus. Your club advisor speaks highly of your leadership within this organization, remarking on how you look for ways to “bring groups with differing views together, and seek understanding and common ground where possible.” Your advisor says that even when you were personally attacked for your beliefs, you responded with “calm, poise, and grace,” while never losing your willingness to listen and engage constructively.
This same commitment to collaboration and constructive dialogue is reflected in your extensive involvement with DCGA. You have set an example by how well you have represented your fellow classmates in overseeing student senate meetings and engaging in the day to day work of DCGA. Your efforts to create a Denison Campus Student Advisory Committee to oversee new policy and make recommendations reflects the overriding value you place on including different voices and perspectives in decision making.
Nathaniel, we appreciate your efforts to build a community committed to rational and inclusive discourse.
- Denison Coalition for Sexual Respect, Co-President
- Denison Campus Governance Association, Speaker, Co-Governor, Class Senator
- Campus Climate Team, Chair
Jordan, many Denisonians took time to share their praise of your leadership over the years. You have built deep and meaningful relationships with many on campus — students, faculty and staff — because you share your opinions, values, and ideas to promote the good. Many of your accomplishments are due to your effectiveness in meetings, but also because of the work you do in between meetings. You are reliable, prepared, and informed.
You commit deeply to the causes that matter to you. You have been president of DCSR, a co-leader of the Sexual Respect Dinners Steering Committee, a SHARE Advocate and Chair of the Campus Climate team. You have advanced our conversation and commitments on these issues, creating programs and leading workshops to engage your peers in important dialogue. Your sustained efforts to foster a culture of sexual respect have had visible impact.
Your reflection on leadership acknowledges the value of being flexible in leadership approach, knowing your limits and letting others step up when too much is on your plate. While your academic and co-curricular commitments have been substantial, you have demonstrated balance and the ability to effect change.
Thank you for your persistence, determination, and commitment to enduring relationships. We will follow your post-Denison trajectory with interest.
- Varsity Football
- Office of Admission, Senior Interviewer, Tour Guide
- French Department, Teaching Assistant
Brendan, you personify what makes a great Denisonian: your commitment to academic and extra-curricular excellence, to representing Denison positively and thoughtfully, and to wanting to make our community even better. The Admission team calls you a “rockstar” tour guide and senior interviewer and says you are always among the first asked to participate on panels to represent Denison. You have undoubtedly convinced dozens of prospectives to fully seriously consider Denison with your blend of authenticity, humor, humility and friendliness.
Beyond your contributions to our admission effort, you have played football while double-majoring in Global Commerce and French, served as a Teaching Assistant in the French department and helped your fellow students as a peer advisor and academic tutor. A professor noted that you are a natural leader in the classroom and make everyone around you better because of your willingness to discuss difficult subjects in productive ways and your sincere engagement in the classroom. We know you will continue to represent Denison well in the future, by bringing your natural curiosity, your humility, and your leadership to help others become better than they were before you entered their lives.
Indira M. Bridges
- African Student Association, President
- First Generation Network, Academic Resource Chair
- Religion Department, Fellow
One of your nominators describe you as a “bridge-builder.” Your advisors are particularly impressed with the way you have facilitated healthy conversations between the African Student Association and the Black Student Union. Indira, you provided both logistical and programmatic support to ASA, but also brought yourself fully to the table as a burgeoning change-maker. You are an excellent listener and a compelling speaker. You have always made certain to lift others as you climb. These are among the truest marks of a leader.
Your work to establish Denison’s First-Generation Network is focused on reducing the barriers students face who are first in their family to complete post-secondary education. Your mentorship and engagement have broken down barriers and built up bridges that will shape the opportunities of first-generation students, faculty and staff at Denison for years to come.
Indira, you have proven yourself an invaluable resource to the college in its efforts to create and sustain an equitable living and learning environment that respects all aspects of human difference. Thank you for leaving Denison better than the way you found it. We are truly grateful and for time and your service.
- Denisonians for Planned Parenthood, Founder, President
- Denison Habitat for Humanity, President, Service Chair
- Academic Resource Center, Chemistry Tutor
It is undeniable that you have a commitment to serving others. Over the last four years, you worked to serve Denison and the greater community. Your strong commitment to Habitat for Humanity led to increased participation at events and new opportunities such as the first-ever local Fall Break Habitat build.
You continued your commitment by serving as a “Big” for Big Brothers Big Sisters. After finding out that one of your Littles had to change schools after a house fire, you switched schools too, to provide your little with a familiar, reassuring face during a difficult transition.
Finally, you committed to starting Denisonians for Planned Parenthood to promote reproductive and sexual health and bring together students advocating for reproductive rights.
One nominator lauded your ability to work across differences. Your peers say you are a caring, dependable role model and a person they look up to. The Peace Corps feels like a natural next step for a person of your passion and capability to serve. Caroline, thank you for the impact you have made at Denison.
- The Bullsheet, Head Writer, Editor
- The Denisonian, News Editor
- Denison Libraries, Archives Student worker
“The long view of Denison’s history,” you wrote, Zach, “shows that this university works best when people care about what goes on here” and are willing to embrace conflict and controversy in pursuit of good outcomes. Our campus media have, at their best, been the site of those healthy debates and your contributions to the Bullsheet and the Denisonian have not just continued that legacy but made it more prominent. As your nominators wrote, you have provided critical information to students, increased accountability and transparency, and created the conditions for better-informed decision-making.
You’ve sought institutional change, but also cared about individuals through (to quote you again) the “small acts and decisions we all take every day to make the lives around us the best they can be.” Your observations of life and politics here and beyond the hill have often been trenchant and witty. But it’s been as an archivist drawing out Denison’s history that you’ve connected us with poignance and meaning at important moments.
Finally, you have done none of this as a press-box observer, but as a fully engaged member of the student body, serving as a Leadership Fellow, a member of DCGA, and an active participant in the work of the College. As a staff member wrote, “Zach is passionate about creating a stronger Denison community that is more authentic, mature, and zestful.”
- Denison Campus Governance Association, President, Finance Chair
- Ultimate Frisbee Club, Captain
- History and Religion Departments, Fellow
Owen, you are one of the rare students to have served as DCGA president for two consecutive terms, while also serving as a Senior Fellow in both the Religion and History departments, a Community Assistant in Residential Communities, and as Captain of the Ultimate Frisbee team.
Having opened two Induction Ceremonies welcoming two classes of first-year students, you are most known for your role as student body president. You’ve led DCGA at a time when the organization has been pressed to fundamentally re-imagine student governance. As someone who thinks a lot about the importance of student agency, and who has brought student voice to Academic Affairs Council, Campus Affairs Council and Finance Committee, your values and experience have helped engage students in governance questions and empowered them to lead change.
But in every space where you’ve worked, you’ve brought influence and impact. In Ultimate Frisbee, the term “Airbender” is used to describe an exceptionally good handler, a person who knows the game extremely well and masters every toss of the frisbee. Your leadership at Denison has always begun with seeking deep and intuitive understanding of what’s happening as well as the terms of engagement, and engaging others to achieve wins for all. Thank you.
- Varsity Softball, Captain
- Community of Christian Athletes, Leader
- Residential Communities, Community Advisor
Angel, during your time at Denison you have proven your leadership in a variety of ways.
In Softball, where you were elected as team captain in your sophomore year, your leadership was powered by disciplined work and a drive for excellence. Your dedication to the team and a desire to motivate others built a culture of trust and has influenced teammates both on and off the field.
Similarly, as a student staff member in Residential Communities, you worked hard to know your residents individually and build close and trusting relationships with them, so that you could better provide them with an environment in which they could flourish.
A lasting legacy will be the Community of Christian Athletes, a student organization that you founded and developed. Working with the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life, you created a community where students can find fellowship and friendship as they navigate the rigors and challenges of being a student-athlete.
In all that you have done during your time at Denison, your sense of relationships, community involvement, and a desire to succeed have made you the leader that we see today. Thank you.
Mohamed M. El Sayed
- Residential Communities, Community Advisor
- Department of Modern Languages, Teaching Assistant
- Omicron Delta Kappa, President
Mohamed, you have been described as someone who is attentive to the needs of individual students and has the drive to help others. You are widely seen as a person who, in daily life, works to create an engaged and caring community, and whose positive attitude radiates every room you enter. And you’ve entered a lot of rooms, and not just as a Community Advisor! As an August O staff member, a tutor and an Admission host, among others—your impact has been considerable.
You think about the experiences of your community and how you can create inclusive opportunities for your peers to learn from each other and respect the differences that strengthen them. You strive to help others feel connected to campus and encourage them to use resources that make them successful students.
In your reflection statement, you mentioned that you were blessed with great mentors that guided you throughout your Denison career. At the same time, one of your nominators said, “His ambition to positively influence the environment around him is something that I have always admired and aspired to replicate.” It is obvious that what you have learned from others, you have also inspired in others. Thank you.
- University Honor and Conduct Board, Member
- June Orientation and August Orientation, Leader
- Office of Admission, Hosting Coordinator
Kimberly, you wrote in your reflection about the importance of passion and embracing leadership roles fully, but also about having the humility to recognize when others are better suited for those roles. We are grateful that you saw the potential impact you could have in so many places, on and off campus.
You have cast a wide net of involvement: Vice President of Amnesty International; member of the University Honor Committee and the University Conduct Board; an Admission hosting coordinator. You have also served the local community as a volunteer with New Beginnings and the YES Clubhouse.
You excel at creating welcoming and supportive environments across the campus. Still, your drive to address the specific needs of Hispanic and Latinx students merits particular attention. You have done this through formal roles, like leading La Fuerza Latina’s First-Year Leadership Board. Perhaps even more powerful has been how you’ve led change as an August Orientation leader, and especially, as a June Orientation leader. In June O, you led efforts to provide live translation for Hispanic and Latinx students and their families and often provided live and written translation yourself, demonstrating the depth of your commitment.
You will be one of the Co-Coordinators of the June O student staff this year, extending your campus leadership to the last possible moment! We are deeply grateful and acknowledge your impact with pride.
Lariona T. Jacobs
- Black Student Union, Chief Minister, Vice Chief Minister, Minister of Affairs
- Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., President, Membership Chair
- Denison Campus Governance Association, Senator, Class Co-Governor
“One thing about Lariona is that you can count on her to get the job done.”
As Chief Minister of the Black Student Union, you impressed five decades of alumni with your planning of the organization’s 50th anniversary. As President of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. since your freshman year, you led not just Denison sisters but also those of five central Ohio campuses.
But you can be counted on to do more than get jobs done. As Chief Minister, you’ve given voice to both the struggles and the triumphs of Black students at Denison and leveraged the power of the BSU on their behalf. You have been a patient and compassionate mentor for younger students in the Freshman Foundation, and modeled honesty and conviction as a DCGA senator. Other campus leaders say that, because of your extensive leadership resumé, they can count on you to know not just your own role, but usually theirs, too. Across all communities, your peers count on you to use the respect you’ve earned to make Denison a better place.
Your plans for a career in juvenile law will create entirely new ways that young people will be counting on you, but we have no doubt of your capacity given the remarkable constancy of the abilities we have seen at Denison.
- Denison Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, Head of Philanthropy
- Department of Education, Fellow
- Varsity Women’s Soccer, Captain
Claire, in your reflection, you stated that your leadership style is one of leading by example and that you believe that much of your efforts have been behind the scenes. While that may be your perception, there is no denying that others on this campus have observed and recognized your hard work, dedication and persistence. Whether you are working with Licking County Special Olympics, Job and Family Services, or representing Denison on the soccer field, your drive to succeed and improve is apparent to those around you.
As a captain of the Denison Women’s Soccer team you realize that individual achievement is secondary to organizational success and you have embraced the notion that institutional change starts with those individuals who are prepared to dedicate themselves to a stated goal. You demonstrate 100% commitment during the game, on the practice field, and in your work with DSAAC Philanthropy efforts. Your visible leadership puts you in a position to ask for the same from your team.
You undoubtedly provide motivation to friends and teammates, and we are certain you will continue to inspire others in the future.
Peter M. McManus
- Club Soccer, President
- Phi Iota Alpha Fraternity, Inc., President, Vice-President, and Social Chair
- Office of Admission, Hosting Coordinator
Peter, you have been described as a quiet leader by those who nominated you. We think it is perhaps more accurate to say that you are a leader who is capable of adapting your leadership style to meet the needs of an organization, and who does this in generous and un-assuming ways.
As a truly driven advocate, you have transformed the Club Soccer program from a team struggling to attract players, to a thriving group of 50 students representing a wide cross-section of the university. You have accomplished this transformation by establishing a culture where every player has a chance to have their opinions heard, their concerns addressed, and their ideas incorporated.
You are quick to give credit to those around you, and you consistently demonstrate that a true leader must be comfortable both driving the process and serving as a facilitator, working to support others. In short, you have demonstrated that the true measure of a leader is not always the distance they travel, but instead the number of those they bring with them along the journey.
- Lambda Theta Alpha Latin Sorority, Inc. Zeta Phi Chapter, President, Recruitment and Retention Advisor
- Office of Gender and Sexuality, Student Program Coordinator
Community members are impressed by your ability to integrate different facets of your Denison experience in order to frame campus and societal phenomena and, in particular, to address gender, educational and cultural disparities. You are passionate about women’s empowerment and ensuring that women’s programs and initiatives include the experiences of women of color.
As both president and recruitment and retention advisor for Lambda Theta Alpha Sorority, Inc., you led the organization with honor and integrity. Your dedication to your sisterhood, professionalism, and the Greek community is remarkable. When an issue arises, you engage it head on by naming it, providing suggestions for change, and identifying resources for students and staff. Maileah, you show constant integrity through the way you hold yourself accountable, not only within your sisterhood, but through challenges you have faced, both on and off campus.
As stated by one of your nominators, “Maileah embodies Denison’s values of investing in trusting relationships, pursuing growth in every opportunity, and working toward a more inclusive community.” We cannot wait to hear how you will change the world for the better. We are so very proud to call you a Denisonian.
Maggie R. Miller
- June Orientation, Student Leader, Student Coordinator
- Delta Gamma, Vice President of Membership, Vice President of Recruitment
- First-Year Office, Peer Advisor
Your leadership at Denison has shown you to be reflective, adaptive, and attuned to how different situations and contexts impact leadership. In short, you have shown great maturity as a leader.
You excel at creating environments of mutual respect and trust. This was especially apparent in your exemplary work with June Orientation, for which your devotion is well known. A three-year member of the June O staff, you have stood out as a welcoming, knowledgeable and energetic ambassador of the College. The value of your efforts to transition staff and faculty to the new course registration system cannot be overstated.
While you were an excellent June O group leader, you were an even stronger Student Staff Co-coordinator. Indeed, a recommender says that you are the best coordinator that he has worked with. He describes you as “relentless” in your determination that incoming students would leave loving June O as much as you.
Beyond June O, you’re a proud member, and the VP of Membership, for Delta Gamma. You applied your exceptional organizational skills to managing logistics for the Women’s Tennis team, and as treasurer of the Denison Democrats, you brought responsibility and attention to budgeting.
Maggie, your leadership, dedication and hard work have helped many students begin their Denison careers on solid footing. We appreciate all you have done. We will miss you dearly.
- Varsity Women’s Swimming & Diving
- DU Lead, Club Advisor
- August Orientation, Orientation Leader
Michaela, your nominators say that your leadership on campus has been anchored by your curiosity about all things and all people, by your positive and encouraging attitude, and your genuineness and humility. They say that your presence, optimism, and loyal support of others make you a model they seek to emulate in their daily lives. One wrote, “There is a magic about her.”
You have been a committed leader in the Swim & Dive Team. You have worked to create a respectful atmosphere by encouraging your peers to fulfill their goals both in and out of the pool, and you have modelled the drive for personal excellence.
Additionally, you excelled as an Aug-O leader and D.U Lead organizer, providing new students with the encouragement they needed while transitioning to Denison. You provided genuine guidance to new students through small acts, such as handwritten notes and text messages offering assistance. Your nominators pointed to your authenticity, willingness to be vulnerable, and your generous wisdom as gifts you shared with new students.
So, “magic,” yes, undoubtedly. But also: hard work, consistency, compassion, and resilient determination. Thank you for being all of this for all of us.
Alina Christine Panek
- First Generation Network, Co-Founder, President
- The Denisonian, Editor-in-Chief, News Editor, Staff Writer
- Denison Venture Philanthropy, Vice President, Grant Manager, Volunteer
As a communications major interested in media and journalism, you have explored this passion by committing to your studies, a handful of impressive internships, and wide-ranging extracurricular activities. You have served as a Content and Copy Editor of Synapse, as well as the News Editor, Staff Writer, and Editor-in-Chief of the Denisonian.
Your leadership on campus extends far beyond this, however. Your commitment to underrepresented students at Denison is quite clear, and you are a vocal advocate for what you believe is right, supporting those who may not have yet found their voice on campus.
You have held a strong commitment to La Fuerza Latina, stepping into the role of Public Relations and Outreach Coordinator. You have served as a volunteer, Grant Manager, and Vice President of Denison Venture Philanthropy.
And perhaps one of the most impressive aspects of your leadership experience on campus is your hard work as Co-Founder and President of the First-Generation Network. You saw an area of the college that needed additional support, and you stepped up to provide it.
Your nominators say you are “exceptional”, and a “great torchbearer to activate … ideas into motion.” With many others on campus, we are gratified to recognize the strength and the impact of your leadership. Your model of professionalism, personal responsibility, and passion has produced effects that will last for many years after your graduation.
- Leadership Fellows, Fellow, Leadershape Co-coordinator
- Office of Admission, Senior Interviewer, Tour Guide
- Department of Women’s and Gender Studies, Fellow
Dana, a thread that runs through your experience is the way you invite and create community. Indicative of your welcoming nature, after prospective students spend time with you in your Senior Interviewer role, they too want to become Denisonians. Reflecting on your role as a Women & Gender Studies Fellow, one faculty member writes “Dana has positive energy we wish we could bottle like glitter to sprinkle around.”
Perhaps your most significant contribution has been as a Leadership Fellow, where you have worked continuously to deepen the program’s impact. When someone needed to coordinate LeaderShape, you stepped up as a sophomore, generously giving your time and energy to others with the goal of creating stronger communities. As a two-time DU Lead Club Advisor, you have mentored and inspired younger Denisonians to engage on campus, fostering relationships among first-year students that enabled them to authentically make their mark on campus.
In each of these engagements, your personality models openness and vulnerability, inviting the same from others. Your legacy to the community is fostering authenticity and empathy among your peers, thus shaping a more inclusive and welcoming Denison community. Thank you.
- Denison Community Association, President, Events Chair, Public Relations Head
- Delta Gamma Fraternity, Director of Anchor Splash
- Mortar Board, Vice President
“Kind,” “stalwart” and “super-person” are just a few ways others describe you, Brooke. One nominator writes “Though Brooke’s resumé contains an impressive number of leadership appointments, it is her unique approach to fulfilling the responsibilities of each role that most stands out.”
As President of the Denison Community Association, you proactively identify areas to improve and spearhead change for the better. You incorporated mindfulness within cabinet meetings to help peers manage stress and under your leadership, DCA provided over 20,000 service hours to the local community. Under your direction of Anchor Splash, you organized and executed a weeklong fundraising event, culminating in Delta Gamma raising $18,000 for Service for Sight.
An amazing stage manager in Theatre, you proved there was nothing too complex for you—using creative problem-solving to manage a complicated production in Monomoy House, dazzling colleagues with your skills. And this year, you beautifully stage-managed The Wolves.
Brooke, in your reflection, you mentioned the parable of the child throwing starfishes from the sand back into the ocean, refusing to be daunted by the task and knowing that each toss made a difference. You have touched countless lives during your time at Denison, and each of those would say, “You made a difference to me!” Thank you.
- Club Volleyball, Founder, President
- Office of Admission, Senior Interviewer, Tour Guide
- Mindful Denison, Liaison, Founder, Vice President
Elizabeth, as a Denison student you invested deeply in activities that both brought meaning to your own college experience and contributed to the good of the community.
Founding and organizing Denison’s club volleyball team and Mindful Denison and serving the office of admission improved the day-to-day lives of co-workers and team-mates, who describe you as a powerhouse, hard-working, and reliable. It was your work in creating and planning last fall’s Day of Mindfulness that made visible to the whole campus your leadership style and impact. Through months of planning, you took an idea for a project that could benefit the entire campus and brought it to fruition, reaching out to potential partners—faculty, staff and students—to solicit and then incorporate their suggestions, collaborations, and talents.
Your leadership revealed a unique alphabet of qualities: aspiration, balance, courage, doggedness, effort, flexibility, goodness, health-mindedness and impact. We know that as a future neurologist, you’ll continue to improve individual lives and bring positive change to your community. Thank you for the model of leadership you practiced at Denison.
- National Pan-hellenic Council, President
- Tehillah, President
- Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Historian, District Secretary for the Ohio District
Val, you have an uncanny ability to bring people together.
As president of Tehillah, you unite people through praise, song and worship.
As president of the National Pan-Hellenic Council, you contributed significantly to the legacy of Denison’s historically Black, Greek-lettered organizations, supporting chapter presidents through formal check-ins and building organizational infrastructure. Additionally, you found creative new ways to share NPHC history and promote events to students at nearby schools.
Your commitment to Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. was quickly recognized after your initiation. Tapped to serve on the District’s executive board, the body responsible for the success of all Ohio undergraduate and alumni chapters, your contributions reflected well on your chapter and your alma mater, as well as yourself.
One nominator wrote, “Vaval is dependable, inclusive, enthusiastic and caring and has been an integral force on campus since his first semester on the hill.” Your thoughtful questions assist our students, faculty and staff with exploring culture and identity, and your art, your campus involvement and your engagement invite us to encounter a unique and distinctive expression of leadership.
Your creativity, warmth, genuineness and faith are leadership strengths that we cherish. We will miss you deeply and are so proud to call you a Denisonian.
Rachel O. Weaver
- The Doobie, Station Manager, Art Director, PR Director, DJ
- Office of Admission, Senior Interviewer, Tour Guide Co-Coordinator, Tour Guide
- Kappa Pi Academic Fraternity, Design Chair, Member
Rachel, you wrote that true leaders “have a way of supporting others and making them more productive and effective, maybe through efforts of accountability but also in celebration of mutual achievement.” You’ve demonstrated while leading WDUB through the transition from a broadcast format to streaming on the internet, a change of significant complexity. You worked effectively with your advisor, Exec Board, peers, administrators, and alumni as the lead architect of this historic transition, making the Doobie more accessible for its primary audience and creating new possibilities for programming development.
This is the most remarkable of your accomplishments, but not the only one. A four-year member of the station’s DJ roster, you have coordinated DoobiePalooza, done effective station marketing, and increased the professional feel of the station through new policies and procedures and the re-design of the station’s offices. You’ve trained and mentored DJs, helped them pass their certification exams, and celebrated their achievements, unifying the Doobie community.
You are deeply respected by your peers, who see your work at WDUB, as an Admission senior interviewer, and as the Yoga Club president as demonstrating intentionality about how you will commit your energies. They point to a tremendous work ethic, grit and tenacity as your most admirable qualities. We are grateful for your willingness to exercise and develop these characteristics at Denison. You leave us changed for the better.
Payton E. Weltge
- National Panhellenic Conference, President
- Pi Beta Phi, Vice President of Member Development
- Mortar Board, Secretary
You have distinguished yourself as a student deeply committed to leadership, scholarship and service.
As Vice President of Member Development for Pi Beta Phi, you worked tirelessly to improve the chapter’s grade point average by developing plans with sisters who found themselves in academic difficulty, providing the perfect blend of challenge and support to help your peers achieve their academic and co-curricular goals.
Your confidence and determination led you to secure the presidency of Denison’s Panhellenic Council. In this role, you supervised programming and leadership opportunities for affiliated women. You earned the respect of your fellow students, in part because of your inclusive work ethic. One of your recommenders stated, “Payton is one of the most consistently reliable, organized, and diligent leaders that I have known in my 7 years at Denison.” Moreover, under your leadership, Panhel has grown to be a more cohesive body where accountability and teamwork are practiced daily.
Payton, your focused and intentional leadership is an example to numerous students from a variety of backgrounds and life experiences. You represent the very best of who we are as Denisonians. We thank you and wish you continued success.
Sarah M. Wilson
- Burpee’s Seedy Theatrical Company, President
- Sigma Tau Delta, President
- Office of Admission, Senior Interviewer
A professor began his nomination for you with: “Sarah has been a remarkable leader in Denison’s theater scene and in bringing theater to underserved communities in Licking County and in Columbus.” This fall you successfully co-directed “The Wolves” as one of only a handful of students ever selected to direct a mainstage Denison play. As President of the Burpee’s Seedy Theatrical Company, you were instrumental in extending the reach of that organization beyond entertaining students on campus by developing and offering workshops on public speaking, improvisation, and collaboration skills in our schools around the region. In short, you will leave a legacy as a forward-thinking leader within our performing arts community.
You noted in your reflection that a key lesson you learned at Denison was how to deal with failure as a leader. In your words: “sometimes you run out of time or everyone in the cast gets mono or it rains during your outdoor event. But if you surround yourself with people who are enthusiastic and kind, it will be okay. You can go to River Road Coffeehouse, laugh it off, and try again.”
Thank you for sharing your theatrical talents, your enthusiasm, and your kindness with us for the last four years, Sarah.
- Asian Culture Club, President
- Food Recovery Network, Chair
- Global Commerce Department, Fellow
Tianyi, we are grateful for your role on the Pre-Orientation staff for international students at Denison, the “go-to” person for planning and implementing key parts of the program. You relate well and warmly with your peers as you help them navigate and adjust to this environment.
As President of the Asian Culture Club, you worked on vital programming that expanded the group’s membership roster. Lunar New Year, the Mid-Autumn Festival, and the Korean Dinner have become full community events during your leadership.
Perhaps your most significant accomplishments have been with the Food Recovery Program. During your two years chairing this committee, over four tons of food were collected and distributed. Your excellent communication and relationship skills enabled you to organize your ten-member team and manage a myriad of logistical challenges. In addition, you recruited new members and shed important light on the larger problem of food insecurity. Your exceptional performance was recognized with an award from The Salvation Army and you were asked to serve as a guest speaker at the 2018 Food Waste Conference at Ohio State University. Thanks in no small part to you, Denson is now recognized as a model food recovery program.
Tianyi, you are an outstanding contributor to the Denison community, and we are so proud to have you as a campus leader.