Outgoing senators Sara Shenk Moreno, Kate Weaver and Robert Cook are recognized by Vice President for Student Life Ken L. Nafziger during the Wednesday, Dec. 9 chapel service. (Photos by Michael Sheeler)

Student accomplishments and leadership during fall semester celebrated at chapel service

A variety of student accomplishments were celebrated at Eastern Mennonite University’s annual Fall Student Recognition chapel service today [Dec. 9, 2015].

Campus Ministries

Undergraduate campus minister Lana Miller began with a recognition of pastoral and ministry assistants, including Nathanael Ressler and Rebekah York, who are both concluding their service.


Professor Heidi Winters Vogel introduced three student-actors have been invited, based on their performances in “Frog and Toad,” to compete for the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship at the Region II Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival Jan. 12-16, 2016 at West Chester University: Christian Parks and Myriam Aziz, with Ezrionna Prioleau as an alternate. Additionally, Caitlin Randazzo will compete in stage management and Derrick Turner in dramaturgy. Vogel directed the production, which ended performances Dec. 5.

Students Joel Castanon and Wael Gamtessa are recognized by Rachel Roth Sawatsky, director of student programs.

Student Programs

Joel Castanon, products and marketing manager at the campus coffeehouse, Common Grounds, was recognized for his leadership and values by Rachel Roth Sawatsky, director of student programs. After working as a barista for a semester, Castanon moved into management at Common Grounds, where he expanded the number of products available and marketing efforts associated with the new products. He also sought out local food sources, including Mount Crawford Creamery and Smiley’s Ice Cream. Sawatsky noted that Castanon promised at the beginning of the semester to “live in Common Grounds,” and he’s lived up to that promise.

Wael Gamtessa joined Campus Activities Council 1.5 years ago and has been vice president for the past semester. Sawatsky called Gamtessa “one of those rare people who possesses both intellectual capability as well as emotional sensitivity, which makes him able to handle extensive technical aspects of an event but also to work in the role of DJ, sensing the mood of the room and responding as needed.”

University Accord

Twenty-nine students earned Leadership Effectiveness and Development (LEAD)  certificates, recognizing their voluntary participation in a series of workshops on healthy conflict resolution and communication. Recognition was offered by Jane Ellen Reid, director of University Accord, and Jonathan Swartz, assistant director.

These students include Diego Barahona, Heyrin Cha, Ana Cruz, Tae Dews, Wael Gamtessa, Rediet Germa, Teresa Garcia Bautista, Winifred Gray-Johnson, Jonae Guest, Victoria Gunawan, Hanna Heishman, Mario Hernandez, Fernanda Hernandez, Rachel Holderman, Sarah Jennings, Oksana Kittrell, Kat Lehman, Carissa Luginbill, Anna Messer, Valerie Meza-Cooper, Alyssa Moyer, Makora Nyagwegwe, Christian Parks, Louisa Quaynor, Richard Robinson, Alejandra Tejada, Delight Tigoe, Philip Watson and Brittany Williams.

Melody Cash, nursing department chair, with students


Nursing department chair Melody Cash recognized three students as exemplars of nursing students. Michael Sumner has lived out the “sacred covenant” of nursing, supporting and encouraging patients and peers at EMU. Raquel Enriquez embodies “servant leadership,” seeing possibilities and potential where others see barriers, Cash said, while showing an inspirational ability to successfully and smoothly handle responsibilities of schoolwork, her family and extended family. Olivia Mast, recognized for academic excellence, “shares her knowledge as a tutor and facilitates the learning and success of others.”

 Center for Justice and Peacebuilding

Amy Knorr, practice coordinator at the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding, recognized five students for their voluntary work in furthering peacebuilding knowledge in the local community. Graduate students Ahmed Tarik, Myriam Aziz and Jordan Detwiler-Michelson joined together to share their experiences about Syria in local churches.

Additionally, graduate student Mikhala Lantz-Simmons and Mohammad Rasoulipur, who holds a graduate certificate and is interning with the Center for Interfaith Engagement, were recognized for their CJP grant-funded project, “Stories of War,” a video compilation of 18 members of the local community talking about their experiences with and reflections about war. [News articles on both of these projects are forthcoming.]


Music major Sarah Sutter, was introduced by Professor Joan Griffing, music department chair. Griffing called Sutter “an exquisite musician … an expressive, concise, and sensitive singer who understands the demands and subtleties of great music and performs with insight and maturity.” Sutter  tutors music theory students, ushers for concerts on and off campus, and has led the organization of the Dec. 9 music department fundraising concert for The Boys and Girls Club of Harrisonburg. [This event is at Common Grounds from 4:30-6:30 p.m., with performances by students of a variety of music, from Christmas carols, to bluegrass to classical].

Fall and winter athletes line up in front of director of athletics Dave King.


The following athletes were recognized for their accomplishments during the fall and winter sports season by director of athletes Dave King. “They have been given God-given talent and ability, they understand how much work it is to hone those skills, and they recognize the value of their teammates in helping them achieve what they have.”

Cross country: Alec Thibodeaux, Hannah Chappell-Dick, Kat Lehman and Jolee Paden;
Field hockey: Emily Augsburger and Lorraine Armstrong;
Men’s soccer: Emmanuel Boamah, Juan Luna, Daniel Nyce and Jackson Taylor;
Women’s soccer: Becca Borg and Amanda Williams;
Women’s volleyball: Becca Hardy and Katie Miller;
Men’s basketball: Isaiah Harris-Winn and Jerome Jones;
Women’s basketball: Jess Rheinheimer.

Academic Success Center

Linda Gnagey, director of the Academic Success Center, recognized outgoing tutors Olivia Mast, Rebecca Powell and Ryan Swartzentruber for their “dependable, valuable and humble support.”

Student Government Association

Outgoing senators Robert Cook, Kate Weaver, Karina Guzman, Allan Oloo, Sara Shenk Moreno and Sarah Longenecker were recognized for their service in the Student Government Association  by Vice President of Student Life Ken L. Nafziger.

Discussion on “Student accomplishments and leadership during fall semester celebrated at chapel service

  1. Thank you for all of the activities at the Campus and please pray for us as we are preparing to join the family in March of next year. Now I know the names of some of my leaders on campus and their functions.

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