2022 President's Medalists
The preeminent criterion for receipt of a President’s Medal, which was established in 1985, is academic achievement.
In addition, candidates must embody some combination of the following: service to the community, contribution to the arts, enlargement of the community’s global perspective, athletic fitness and achievement, leadership ability and contribution to community discourse.
Recipients for 2022:
Includes remarks read during the Academic Awards Convocation.
Hannah Harrington Gilson ’22
Hannah, as a double major in economics and political science, you showed yourself ready to take on challenges from your first days at Denison. As soon as you could, you chose to become a member of our June-O and Aug-O teams, and this past year you were selected for the role of June-O co-coordinator. One of your nominators noted about being a first-year student orientation group leader that “Orientations never go as planned and group leaders must be able to respond to problems when they arise.” You have exemplified the teaching function of campus orientation leadership in ways that show the practical application of the liberal arts ethos. It is precisely those sorts of qualities which led so many faculty members to enthusiastically contribute to your nomination: your ability to adapt and improvise, to teach in unexpected situations, and most importantly, to lead. With the Lugar Center, in your sorority, and as an amazingly active participant in the Music Department, you have shown leadership in the arts, in political life, and for our campus. As a teaching assistant, you have been a model of engaging with and celebrating the diversity that our international students bring to economics coursework, and you have been active in getting students to think outside of campus through electoral engagement and voter registration. Your breadth of engagement as a student all four years at Denison makes you a necessary member of our President’s Medalist class for 2022.
Sarah Ellies Hume ’22
Sarah, one of your nominators noted that from your first day in class, you raised the bar. Not so much for your fellow students, but for those instructing you. Your questions, your encouragement of classmates, and the challenges you chose to take on over and above class requirements: that sort of student engagement makes faculty members take notice, and rise to the occasion so everyone benefits. As a major in International Studies, you also chose a concentration in the Narrative Journalism program. A Geosciences professor reported his repeated attempts to get you to change your major, but to no avail. You have had internships at publications including Story magazine and Cultural Survival, and have served as a teaching assistant for journalism classes as well. You have received the Mary Withers Rural Writing Fellowship, immersing yourself in rural Kentucky and writing stories of people in that region. But here in Ohio, from Licking County’s Lobdell Creek to our neighboring Alligator Mound and on down the road to The Wilds, your storytelling abilities have been deployed in print, online, by podcast, and through audio narratives used by state organizations like the Ohio History Connection. You tell stories to connect people of all walks of life, speaking and writing and also doing. Your skills as a leader have been put to work to improve our world. From fundraising chair for Denison’s Habitat for Humanity to Pre-O Service Student Leader, you tell your own story through example, and such storytelling has created for you a place in this year’s President’s Medalist class.
Liam Michael Jeanette ’22
If someone is a Computer Science and Physics double major, a passion for science may be a given, but Liam, you’ve taken a second semester of Quantum Mechanics on independent study. That alone is worth our respect, but your professors all agree that your engagement and abilities exceed those on a similar track. One writes, “Liam has a keen physical insight that lets him quickly see to the heart of an issue, and he has the mathematical ability to back up that insight, test his ideas and try alternative approaches if needed.” So your intellect is obvious, but not all of your peers may know that you are also involved in the arts through music, as a violinist with the Symphony Orchestra. Your commitment there is such that you have chosen to perform a full senior recital - a major undertaking that involves preparing and performing 50 minutes of solo and collaborative music at the most polished performance level — simply for the challenge, enjoyment, and musical collaboration opportunity it offers. You have done research both on and off campus, including at Argonne National Laboratory, working on research projects in the Accelerator Systems Division there, while here on campus we’re told you are cooling and trapping atoms, which sounds exactly like the kind of thing someone in a second semester of Quantum Mechanics would be doing. But there is no uncertainty principle involved in the fact that you are a worthy recipient of the President’s Medalist award.
Ariela Jordan Katz ’22
Ariela, as an Economics and Global Commerce double major, one of your nominators wanted us to know that your “drive and determination to make the most of [your] college experience while fully engaging in the intellectual life of the institution are impressive.” We see you’ve been a dean’s list student, former captain of the varsity swim and dive team, departmental fellow in two academic departments, president of Hillel, head tutor for Economics and Global Commerce in the Academic Resource Center, a Global Commerce Community Leader, [and] an active member of your sorority. One professor describes your work starting in a “Global Green New Deal” class where you showed leadership among a group of students, all of you working in collaboration with the Newark Think Tank on Poverty, and the organization “Reimagine Appalachia” (a coalition of over 100 organizations in four states). The project focused on the importance of Broadband infrastructure investment for Appalachia. In interviewing community members, reviewing academic literature, and assessing policy proposals, you and your team designed a presentation for an educational webinar hosted by Reimagine Appalachia through our Denison Red Frame Lab. Another faculty endorsement highlighted the way you have always been among the first to volunteer when community leader participation was needed at campus-wide events. While they note you have your own stories of academic, personal, and professional success, you also have a gift for helping students feel more at ease with their own exploration, as someone willing to say, “I did not know as a sophomore where I wanted to be as a graduating senior.” We are confident you are right where you want to be as a member of this year’s President’s Medalist class.
Sueshin “Sarah” Moon ’22
While we have many double majors among our President’s Medalist awardees today, Sarah, you come with the triple major of the Denison Philosophy, Politics, and Economics program, which for obvious reasons more often gets referred to simply as the PPE major. That acronym carries a little different weight today than it did for most of us four years ago, and for you, as a student perhaps more affected by the global COVID pandemic than most, your achievements are all the more notable in how you had to study remotely from your home in the Republic of Korea for more than a year of your time “at” Denison. Along with the well-known electronic complications of remote learning, and even discounting the time differences complicating everything that year, you had extra responsibilities at home, while still achieving at a high level in your online course work. Professors indicated that you were able to show leadership within classes even when you were working remotely. For all of that, one of your nominators reminds us, “Sueshin has been a positive presence on campus in terms of governance, service, and intellectual engagement.” You have made substantial contributions to DCGA in the positions of Policy Chair, Vice President, and current Senior Co-Governor, to which you were elected by your peers, and you have been selected for positions, such as Global Ambassador for the Center for Global Programs, and made a recipient of the Distinguished Leadership Award, all of which indicate the high regard both students and faculty hold for you.
Max Bradley Sternberg ’22
Max, you also come to us ready to graduate from the triple-threat PPE program, and your faculty nominators tell us that you are also a triple achiever in music, athletics, and academics. You play the viola in chamber music on our campus, and you have been captain of the Varsity swim team, where your coach tells us you are not only among the top 1% of the student-athletes he’s ever worked with, but also are “Among the most compassionate, intelligent, and thoughtful students whom I’ve worked with during my tenure at Denison.” As team captain, you stated that your primary goal this past season post-COVID was to re-establish a team culture of accountability and success. One sign that you were successful at achieving this goal for your teammates as a whole is that you are a recipient of the college’s Distinguished Leadership Award. In your academic work looking at market-based solutions to climate change, you’ve investigated investment-allocation decisions that weigh both the ethics and politics that can provide a roadmap to CO2 mitigation through using something called “a justified carbon price.” In all of your work, in music, in athletics, and in academics, you’ve highlighted how at Denison a student can learn from their mentors and, as you’ve put it, thereby “contribute to the well-being of others in the community.” For those reasons, we present you with the President’s Medalist award.
Sophie Harrington Gilson ’22
Sophie, you have been called by your nominators enthusiastic, reliable, and ambitious, but you may be the first we’ve seen to be described as “wicked smart.” You’re a double major in economics and political science, while compiling a significant amount of course work in music, including participation in the concert choir, jazz ensemble, and chamber singers. You’ve been described as an exceptionally gifted singer with a strong musical background. Bringing together the arts and academics, you’ve been recognized as an exemplary citizen-artist in the Denison community, bringing to both classes and concerts your own contribution of endless enthusiasm, steadfast professionalism, and meticulous preparation. You are active as a leader on campus, whether in your sorority, as a member of a variety of musical ensembles, and in the classroom. Faculty comments note that you took Senior Seminar as a junior, which they only allow the most advanced juniors to do. And you’ve also made your own mark as a student orientation leader for both June O and Aug O – introducing students to Denison, to the living reality of the liberal arts, and helping first year students with everything from the big picture questions to the nuts and bolts of registration. One of your nominators summed it up this way: “She is one of the most academically accomplished, outgoing and involved, and mature and thoughtful students that I have had the pleasure of working with at Denison.” That sounds exactly like someone who has earned becoming a President’s Medalist.
Rayshon Cornell Walker ’22
Ray, as a Communication and Anthropology/Sociology double major, along with a Narrative Journalism concentration, you have explored your passions deeply both within and beyond the classroom setting. With The Denisonian, Denison’s oldest student organization and a reliable training ground for students who are exploring journalism as a career, you became the first dedicated video journalist in that publication’s history. In that pioneering role, you’ve shown other student journalists how important and effective video/audio stories are in the digital age, as you’ve provided useful & meaningful content to Denisonian.com and its social media. One of your nominators said, “He is personable, outgoing and kind. He can talk with anyone anywhere. That is a gift for someone who wants to be a broadcast journalist. A camera can be intimidating to people being interviewed, but when Ray is standing beside it, the camera disappears and his subjects become part of a relaxed conversation only with Ray, not the camera.” Less visible but so important for our campus community, you have served as a member of both the University Conduct Board and also on the Antiracism Task Force, the latter part of Denison Forward, a wide-ranging diversity, equity, and inclusion initiative launched in 2020-2021. In addition to serving on this crucial task force, you have also served as the Minister of Affairs for the Black Student Union. For so many roles you have taken on as a student leader, you are a recipient of the Distinguished Leadership Award. As the Office of Student Life observed about you, “He’s one of those seniors where the thought of next year without them on the Hill makes you sad, because of the vibrancy, energy and positivity he infuses throughout campus….” You’ve earned the respect of peers and administrators, because as a student leader, you’ve built relationships, built trust, and listen closely to the perspectives of others. You’ve built foundations on which others will build, and for that we award you the President’s Medal.