In April, five Denison seniors were awarded the highest honor bestowed on a student by the college: the President’s Medal. It’s given to those who not only succeed academically, but who make the Hill a better place by having been here, leaving behind some kind of legacy for the rest of the Denison community to follow. Among this year’s President’s Medalists are a Rhodes Scholar nominee, a filmmaker, a future doctor, singers, All-American Athletes, and an accomplished researcher. As they depart for the future, they leave plenty behind: a new Code of Academic Integrity, environmental initiatives, an a capella gospel group, and several athletics records. But what will they take with them? We asked this year’s winners to tell us about that small part of Denison that they’ll carry as they make their impact on the world beyond the Hill.
Meredith Atwood ‘09
Major: Biology and Environmental Studies
My research advisor, Rebecca Homan, gave me a book when I graduated. The book is about vernal pools, a topic that I worked on with her for a year and a half. My time with Homan made me realize my research interest in amphibians and vernal pool ecology, which I am going to study in graduate school. Every time I use the book (which will be on my shelf at grad school) reminds me of Denison and how I had the opportunity to do research as an undergraduate that excited and motivated me to begin my career in amphibian conservation.
Kristen Holh ‘09
A Finis Snorkel
When I was told to purchase a Finis snorkel as training equipment for the Denison swim team, I had no clue what it was, how to use it, or the importance it would have for me. The Finis allowed me to see and feel stroke changes without having to add the breathing motion. Looking back, as much as I hated the thing (I choked on plenty of water), it was an important tool in my transition from a high school swimmer to a collegiate athlete. It also represents my struggles with college life and growth as a student and a person. I found a passion, developed it through thought-provoking classes, and am now working towards a doctorate in physical therapy at the University of Pittsburgh.
Michael Barnes ‘09
A Laundry Loop
Down in the Mitchell Center, athletes are given laundry loops so that we can have our practice gear washed and returned to us. As a three-sport athlete (football, indoor and outdoor track & field], I spent a lot of time at the Mitchell Center. My coaches and teammates will always be a part of my life, and I will never forget all that they did for me. I don’t define myself solely as an athlete, but I think my athletic endeavors played a significant role in shaping my personality and character. My laundry loop will forever remind me of the strides I took, personally, academically, and athletically, while at Denison.
Bryan Blaski ‘09
Major: Cinema and Music Composition
I spent most of my extra-curricular time with the University Programming Council, first as comedy director then as vice president. As comedy director, I worked with comedians. Driving them to and from the airport gave me a great opportunity to talk with them about the comedy and entertainment business. They all encouraged me to pursue a career in the entertainment industry. I had 8 x 10 photos of most of the comedians, and asked for their autographs. I will keep my collection of framed photos to remind me not only of my time with UPC, but also where I found my passion for entertainment.
Charisse Mandimika ‘09
Major: biology with a chemistry minor
I’ll take along my very comfortable, extremely worn, black Denison hoodie, which I purchased one rainy day during my first week of classes freshman year. For me, it represents the journey I traversed throughout my four years … all the late nights up doing work, walking on the quad on chilly fall days, watching varsity soccer games, hanging out with friends. It pretty much went through it all with me.