EMU Honors and Awards Spring 2020

Eastern Mennonite University held its annual student recognition ceremony during finals week. The various recognitions included honors from academic departments, student life and athletics.

Academic Honors

Academic Success Center 

Linda Gnagey, director of the Academic Success Center, recognized tutors of distinction Jared Bergman, Chelsea Brubaker, Robert Chaplin, Joy Driver, Anastasia Dronov, Kara Durren, Austin Engle, Megan Good, Alyssa Gore, Melissa Kinkaid, Leah Lapp, Collin Longenecker, Anali Martin, James Paetkau, Emilio Ramirez Fajardo, Andrew Reimer-Berg, Ginny Sorrell, and Ben Stutzman

Anna Ressler was named Tutor of the Year. She is a four-year tutor, a psychology mjaor who tutored writing, speech and psychology. “She provided caring and competent support for many students, meeting them at their instructional level and moving them forward to academic success,” Gnagey said.

Bible and Religion

Professor Peter Dula announced the winners of the annual Haverim Bible and Religion Writing Award, for best essays on issues in scholarship of the Bible, religion, philosophy, or Anabaptist-Mennonite thought:

  • First place, Raviv Monahan, “Capitalism, Schizophrenia, and the Women’s Piety Movement,”
  • Second place, Kate Kauffman, “The #MeToo Movement: The Liberation of Female Voices who Experience Sexual Abuse and Assault,”
  • Third place, Luke Hertzler, “Anabaptism Today: Global Perspectives.” 


The Biology Department gives several awards for exceptional academic, scholarly and service accomplishments. Professor Jim Yoder presented the recognitions:

  • Caroline Lehman, Outstanding Senior Biology Student, for initiative, wisdom, collegiality and integrity, as well as academic excellence.
  • Emilio Ramirez Fajardo and Alexandra Raber, Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research, for exceptional performance in independent research.
  • Anastasia Dronov, Award for Exceptional Service, in recognition of exceptional dedication to service and demonstration of servant leadership in the sciences. 
  • Clara Weybright, Outstanding Senior Environmental Sustainability Student Award, in recognition of a graduating senior’s exceptional academic, scholarly and service accomplishments.
  • Jessie Landis and Theodore Yoder, Outstanding Second-Year Biology Student Award, for academic excellence in core biology coursework. Grades, collegiality, initiative, enthusiasm and understanding of core concepts are all considered.

Business and Leadership

  • Alyssa Gore was named Outstanding Business Student by Professor Andrew Miller. This award, the highest award for a graduating senior, is based on academic performance, personal leadership and work ethic.
  • Daniel Moyer was named Outstanding Accounting Student by Professor Leah Kratz. The recognition is for academic excellence, integrity, exceptional performance, and involvement in and out of the classroom.
  • Bailey Hall was awarded with the Exceptional Leadership Award by Professor Joohyun Lee. Bailey balanced his baseball involvement with his studies in major of recreation leadership and sports studies.
  • Cheyanne Marzullo was recognized with the Exceptional Service Award by Professor Jim Leaman. This recipient consistently looks beyond self and needs of others and reliably takes action in service to others. “Cheyenne has been a student representative at our department meetings, volunteering at a summer camp, serving at Gift and Thrift and was involved in many other service opportunities on campus,” Leaman said.


Leah Lapp earned the Outstanding Senior Chemistry Student award for high academic achievement, significant research experience, and the potential to contribute to the field of (bio)chemical sciences. This is the highest award given to a graduating senior. Leah will also be nominated for the American Chemical Society, Virginia section award. Professor Matt Siderhurst presented.

Aden Weybright was selected by the faculty teaching general chemistry as the Outstanding First-Year Chemistry Student, based on academic excellence, collegiality, enthusiasm and understanding of core concepts. 

Computer Science

Darren Good was named the Outstanding Senior in Computer Science. This faculty-designated award is given to a graduating senior who has demonstrated exceptional ability in and out of the computer science classroom. It is the highest honor bestowed on a student within the computer science major and is determined by academic excellence, service, and contributions to the computer science culture at EMU. Professor Esther Tian presented.


Riley Mathers, an education major earning a K-12 special education licensure, received the Courage to Teach Award, an annual recognition of a student teacher’s dedication and effectiveness in teaching, genuine caring for students, highly principled behaviors, reflective practice, passion for teaching and the courage to navigate challenging experiences in teaching. Erb presented Mathers with a copy of Parker Palmer’s book, Courage to Teach.

The 2020 Teachers of Promise include 

  • Robbie Chaplin, PreK-12 Music: Instrumental and Vocal,
  • Kayla Leaman,  6-12 Mathematics,
  • Abigail Shelly, PreK-12 ESL, 
  • Abigail Shumaker, 6-12 Biology, and 
  • Katie Wenger, K-12 Special Education and PreK-12 ESL.

In normal times, the Teachers of Promise annual event brings together 100 outstanding pre-service teachers from Virginia for recognition, mentorship and professional development. They are nominated by their respective pre-service programs at colleges and universities around Virginia.

The honorees “exemplify strong potential for impacting students in the classroom, high academic standing, commitment to the teaching profession, and embody EMU’s teacher education mission to ‘teach boldly in a changing world through an ethic of care and critical reflection,’” said department chair and professor of education Cathy Smeltzer Erb, who honored the students at the recognition ceremony.


James Paetkau and Austin Engle were honored as Outstanding Seniors in Engineering. This faculty-designated award is given to a graduating senior who has demonstrated outstanding academic achievement and commitment to professional integrity. It is the highest honor bestowed on a student within the engineering major and is determined by academic excellence, service, and contributions to the engineering culture at EMU. Department chair Esther Tian presented the award.


Professors Audrey Myers and Kate Clark presented the spring semester awards for the nursing department.

  • Ally Coffey was recognized with the Sacred Covenant Award, given to the student who exemplifies EMU’ss unique approach to nursing which recognizes the nurse client relationship as holy ground.
  • Joy Driver was honored with the Academic Achievement Award, 
  • Kelsee Green earned the Servant Leader Award, as the nursing student who shows a deep level of caring and is an example to the entire department in service and caring.


Emma Yoder was awarded the Outstanding History Award by Professor Mary Sprunger. Emma met several criteria including academic excellence and contribution to the department. Her capstone essay was “Mennonites and Voting: How Politicization of Identity Leads to Church Fracturing (2000-2020).” By analyzing church members’ opinions on presidential elections as expressed through the Mennonite press, she found that while Mennonites have embraced political activity in the last half century, they have not developed a theology that makes room for democratic citizenship, thus leaving the church without the tools to address harmful polarization among members.

Emma has also served the department as an undergraduate learning assistant in the large U.S. history survey courses; completed a sociology major; and been active in SGA and Earthkeepers.

She was awarded with a copy of the Martyr’s Mirror, by van Braught, a publication first printed in 1685 to preserve the stories of Christians who remain true to faith despite severe persecution.

“Emma, we hope you remain true to your ideals as you embark on a future committed to social and environmental justice, informed by a meaningful and purposeful understanding of the past,” Sprunger said.


Professor Daniel Showalter recognized the following awardees:

  • Andrew Reimer-Berg was recognized as the Outstanding Senior in Mathematics. This faculty-designated award is given to a graduating senior who has demonstrated exceptional ability in and out of the mathematics classroom. It is the highest honor bestowed on a student within the mathematics major and is determined by academic excellence, service, and contributions to the mathematics culture at EMU. 
  • The team of Cameron Byer, Hannah Leaman, and Ben Stutzman  were recognized for their recent win in the international Kryptos code-breaking contest.
  • The winner of the 2020 EMU Mathematics Competition is Cameron Byer. Second-place was Andrew Reimer-Berg.  


The faculty of the EMU Music Department usually selects one graduating student to award the outstanding senior in music award based on skill, acumen, work ethic and accomplishment as a musician. 

“This year is exceptional in that our faculty felt that all five of our graduating seniors met and even exceeded the criteria for this recognition,” said department chair David Berry. “Additionally, their perseverance in the midst of a season of lost opportunities has been particularly inspiring.”

Berry presented all five seniors with the Outstanding Senior in Music recognition. The students and just one of their many accomplishments, are:


Phoebe Swe and Kate Kauffman were awarded the Galen R. Lehman Achievement in Research Awards for creativity, thoughtfulness and exceptional commitment to research in pyschology. Phoebe’s project was on external validity of comfort foods and Kate’s on testing help- seeking behavior. Professor Greg Koop presented these awards.

Anna Ressler was awarded the Judy H. Mullet Award for Internship Excellence. “Anna stood out for her exceptional contributions at her field placement, Generations Crossing,” said Professor Ryan Thompson.


Professor Jenni Holsinger recognized Nathan Amos, for his lifetime membership into Alpha Kappa Delta International Honor Society, for academic achievement in the major of sociology.  Nathan has been invited to wear the honor cord as he joins members from EMU’s peer institutions and 650 other colleges and universities as part of the honor society’s work in bringing together people interested in developing scientific knowledge for the purpose of service. He joins senior Ariel Barbosa, last year’s initiate.

University Recognitions

Campus Ministries

The 2019-20 pastoral assistants, including: Anna Cahill, Lydia Haggard, Victoria Barnes, Caleb Oakes, Justin Odom, Luke Hertzler, Austin Yoder, Yoel Bobadilla (spring) and Yonas Ketsula (fall) were honored by Campus Pastor Brian Martin Burkholder.

Cords of Distinction

Ten seniors were honored with Cords of Distinction, EMU’s highest honor. Faculty, staff and fellow students nominated the recipients, who were cited for their “significant and verifiable impact” on the university and on student life; for their contributions to developing the institution’s positive image; for substantial contributions to the Harrisonburg/Rockingham County area and beyond; for their high academic and social standing; and their embodiment of EMU’s shared values of Christian discipleship, community, service and peacebuilding.

The recipients are Lindsay Acker, Ariel Barbosa, Kiara Kiah, Donaldo Lleshi, Cheyenne Marzullo, Gabby McMillon, Justin Odom, Emily Powell, Abigail Shelly, and Leah Wenger. More coverage is here and forthcoming.

Nominees for this award include Victoria Barnes, Elena Bernardi, Mim Beck, Sara Byler, Robert Chaplin, Lydia Chappell Deckert, Kiana Childress, Ally Coffey, Elizabeth Dagliano, Emily Davis, Joy Driver, Anastasia Dronov, Caroline Gehman, Megan Good, Bailey Hall, Lydia Haggard, Peter Han, Luke Hertzler, Amber Hooper, Emma Hoover, Kate Kauffman, Andy King, Melissa Kinkaid, Collin Longenecker, Liz Marin, Anali Martin, Madeline Mast, Caleb Oakes, James Paetkau, Maddie Rinehart, Fibi Souleymane, Meredith Stinnette, Phoebe Swe, Nik Tucker, Clara Weybright, and Emma Yoder.

Donning of the Kente

The Donning of the Kente ceremony will be later this week. Those who participate in the voluntary ceremony wear stoles that highlight their cultural connections. More coverage is forthcoming.

Recipients of kente include Ariel Barbosa, Tala Bautista, Kirby Broadnax, Kiana Childress, Emilio Fajardo, Sophia Hartman, Alexus Hobert, Paul Kayembe, Earnest Kiah, Kiara Kiah, Donaldo Lleshi, Juan Becerra Martinez, Justin Odom, and Kiontay Reynolds.

Recipients of satin sashes are Phoebe Swe, Diana Crespin-Gomez, Maha Mehanna, Juan Vazquez, Donaldo Lleshi, Sako Haji, and Rodrigue Makelele.

Student Government

Seth Weaver and Leah Wenger, co-presidents of the SGA, passed the gavel to Anisa Leonard, Justice Allen and Allison Shelly, incoming co-presidents.


The Royals Athletics Honors will be Friday at 7 p.m. Annual awards of freshman of the year, athlete of the year and academic achievement awards will be presented, culminating in the president’s awards.  All 42 of this year’s seniors will be recognized, with four giving short reflections on their time as a student-athlete at EMU.  View the ceremony at  www.emuroyals.com/livevideo

Royals athletes are recognized regularly at EMURoyals.com. Only spring semester honors are listed here.


Tie Evans: Royals Athlete of the Week (Jan. 27-Feb. 2)

DJ Hill: Royals Athlete of the Week (Jan. 6-12), ODAC Player of the Week (Jan. 6-12) 

Lexi Deffenbaugh: Royals Athlete of the Week (Feb. 17-23)

Chrissy Delawder: Royals Athlete of the Week (Jan. 13-19)

Chloe Roach: Royals Athlete of the Week (Feb. 3-9) 


John Judy: ODAC Pitcher of the Week (Feb. 3-9), ODAC Pitcher of the Week (Feb. 10-16), Royals Athlete of the Week (Feb. 10-16)

Jacob Merica: Royals Athlete of the Week (March 2-8)


Ben Shenk: Royals Athlete of the Week (April 13-19)  


Morgan Tricarico:Royals Athlete of the Week (March 30-April 5) 

Indoor Track & Field

Isaac Alderfer: Royals Athlete of the Week (Jan. 20-26), All-ODAC Second Team Indoor 800m and Distance Medley Relay, All-South/Southeast Region Team Indoor 800m, VaSID All-State Second Team Middle Distance and Distance Medley Relay

Justice Allen:  All-ODAC Second Team Distance Medley Relay and VaSID All-State Second Team Distance Medley Relay

Alijah Johnson: All-ODAC Second Team Distance Medley Relay and VaSID All-State Second Team Distance Medley Relay

Jansen Miller: All-ODAC Second Team Distance Medley Relay and VaSID All-State Second Team Distance Medley Relay


Emily Campbell:Royals Athlete of the Week (April 6-12)

Emily Davis:  ODAC Player of the Week (March 9-15)Royaand ls Athlete of the Week (March 9-15) 


Jacob Durren: All-CVC Second Team

Martin Pou: Royals Athlete of the Week (March 23-29)

Discussion on “EMU Honors and Awards Spring 2020

  1. Its encouraging to actually recognize committed and those who excel in whatever field or way. This is a motivation that many ignore. I appreciate the EMU fraternity and your continuous humility that touches on those very small things that affect the community but are ignored by govenments, intrepreneurs and faithgroups. Your activities have left an indelible mark in my life.
    Stay home to stay safe as we pray for the end of this covid 19 pandemic.

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