EMU honors students for academic, leadership achievements

Ninety Eastern Mennonite University students were recognized for accomplishments and achievements during the 2020-21 academic year during a special recognition ceremony today.

View the livestream recording


Academic Success Center

Rachael Brenneman earned the Peer Tutor of the Year Award. She was recognized for “combining the qualities of excellent technical skills, helping students with the structure and mechanics of writing, as well as excellent perceptions of what students want to say and how to say it better, and all the while she honors tremendous vulnerability that students can feel when they come for writing consultations,” according to Steve Yoder, coordinator of academic success.

Bible and Religion

The Haverim writing awards are given to students whose essays demonstrate robust scholarship related in one way or another to biblical studies, religion, philosophy, and/or Anabaptist/Mennonite thought and practice. Cash awards of $300, $200, and $100 for first, second and third place, respectively, come with the prize.

  • First place: Elizabeth Eby for “Dismantling the Dualism of Good and Evil.” In her paper, Elizabeth explored the dualism between good and evil through a cursory review of the 2019 Top Ten movies and how such dualism ultimately leads to dehumanization, especially of the one depicted as “the enemy.” She then offered a biblical and theological response that challenges and moves beyond such dualism.
  • Second place: Ambrose Monahan for “Do You Feel Held?  Acknowledgement and Midsommar.” Through the work of Cavell and Hegel, Ambrose provided a framework in exploring and understanding the folk horror movie Midsommar as “a drama depicting the overwhelming pain of trauma and grief, and the emotional toll of the repression and avoidance of that pain.”
  • Third place: Summer Williams for “Radical Salvation: Liberation Theology.” In her overview of Liberation Theology, Summer provided a robust theological vision for the church to embody its vocation of being a radical, emancipatory body that counters institutional and social injustices in the world.

Biology, Chemistry and Environmental Sustainability

  • Reuben Peachey-Stoner: Outstanding Senior Chemistry Student
  • Addison Shenk: Outstanding Senior Biology Student
  • Rachel Brenneman: Outstanding Environmental Sustainability Student
  • Isaac Spicher: Outstanding First-Year Chemistry Student Award
  • Erin Clayton and Morgan Pletch: Outstanding Second-Year Biology Student Awards
  • Isaac Alderfer and Micah Buckwalter: Award for Excellence in Research, for their three-year project on water quality in land use zones in Rockingham County
  • Maya Dula and Jakiran Richardson: Award for Exceptional Service, for their donation of time and effort to the biology and chemistry programs as they work to create a welcoming, equitable and fair learning environment for all students. They assisted with focus groups, data collection in the form of feedback from minority STEM majors on their experience in STEM classrooms and helped with a research study looking at retention rates among STEM majors.

Business and Leadership

  • Jamie Corzo: Outstanding Recreation and Sports Management Senior, for his sterling qualities, passion for the field, work ethic, and 3.9 GPA.
  • Lauren Hartzler: Outstanding Business Administration Senior, for her excellence both as a student in the classroom and as an teacher assistant.
  • Taylor Longenecker: Outstanding Accounting Senior, for his academic achievements, excellence in the classroom, his perseverance and dedication through a technically demanding program, contributions to tutoring fellow students and in class discussions, connecting his field of study to current events.
  • Zachary Newton: Outstanding Marketing Senior, for his demonstrated perseverance, growth mindset and ability to be a team player and leader.
  • Tiffany Heishman: Outstanding Achievement, for her overall achievements as a double major in accounting and business administration (completing both majors in three years); her contributions as a tutor, mentor and tech assistant; and her service to the greater community through involvements with FFA and 4H. [Read more about Tiffany and her ag business interests.]
  • Aaron Horst: Exceptional Service Award, for his work choreographing two musicals and a play at Eastern Mennonite High School, tennis coach thee, three year assistant at EMU’s rock wall, Community Advisor for two years, and a three-year EMU Ambassador.
  • Justice Allen: Exceptional Leadership Award, for his role as co-president of the Student Government Association, leadership on the cross country team (named to ODAC All-American team and twice as a Royals Athlete of the Week), in addition to everyday leadership in the classroom.

Center for Justice and Peacebuilding

Three graduate students were selected by CJP’s Academic Committee for recognition:

  • Gabrielle Bradsaw, for commitment and dedication to community building in the midst of a pandemic;
  • Simelwe Dlova, for excellence in behind-the-scenes technical assistance, including in the most recent CJP Appreciative Inquiry workshop;
  • Conner Suddick, for excellence as a graduate assistant for professors Johonna Turner and Tammy Krause.


Five education students were named as 2021 Teachers of Promise, among 100 of the best and brightest pre-service teachers in Virginia: 

  • Sarah Ressler, elementary and special education, from Apple Creek, Ohio; 
  • Ruth Reimer-Berg, elementary education, from Salem, Ore.; 
  • Hannah Nichols, elementary education, from Rockingham, Va.; 
  • Megan Breidigan, secondary English education, from Douglassville, Pa.; 
  • Rachel Sauder, secondary mathematics education, Lyndhurst, Va. 

Emily McCombs was selected by department faculty for the annual Courage to Teach Award, modeled after principles in Parker Palmer’s book of the same name. Department faculty selected Emily for her dedication and success in teaching, her genuine caring for students, reflective practice, highly principled behaviors, and her courage to navigate challenging experiences.  She was presented with a copy of Palmer’s book.

Language and Literature

  • Megan Breidigan is the winner of the Carroll Yoder Award for Teaching Excellence, which honors an EMU senior or junior who has demonstrated academic excellence in both literary studies and education courses and has shown a clear call to the teaching profession. Professor Emeritus Carroll Yoder, who taught French, English, and writing, along with mentoring many aspiring teachers, provided his students and colleagues with a powerful example of scholarship in service to others during his thirty-four years in the Language and Literature Department.
  • Elizabeth Miller earned the Ray Elvin Horst Award for excellence in Spanish. She is recognized for “her command of Spanish, her dedication to being a bridge between cultures, and for being a community-builder and servant leader,” said instructor Maria Esther Showalter.
  • Kayley Scottlind earned the Ervie L. Glick Award for excellence in world language study. “You have served our community with joy, been committed to Latino Student Alliance, and shown excellence as a Spanish major while also a biology major,” said Showalter.
  • Anna Cahill is awarded the Omar Eby Writing Award for her diligent work in all genres and contributions this semester as co-editor of the Weather Vane. Eby, who died this year, is memorialized through this award, presented to a senior majoring or minoring in writing studies who demonstrates excellence in the craft of creative writing and who provides insightful critique and support for other writers in creative workshops.
  • James Dunmore earned the Jay B. Landis Award for excellence in literary studies, for writing the best academic essay in the interdisciplinary humanities seminar offered annually each spring. His essay was “Lines Leading Off the Page: Recontextualizing Underground Comics As Countercultural Phenonemon.” Landis, who died this year, taught writing, speech, and literature including modern poetry, drama and Shakespeare over 51 years at EMU.

Mathematics, Engineering and Computer Science

  • Ethan Beiler: Outstanding Senior in Engineering Award, awarded by the faculty as the highest honor for the graduate demonstrating academic excellence, service, and contributions to community and culture at EMU.
  • Lucas Wenger: Outstanding Senior in Mathematics Award, awarded by the faculty as the highest honor for the graduate demonstrating academic excellence, service, and contributions to community and culture at EMU.
  • Cameron Byer: Outstanding Senior in Computer Science Award, awarded by the faculty as the highest honor for the graduate demonstrating academic excellence, service, and contributions to community and culture at EMU.
  • Cameron Byer won the annual math competition for the fourth consecutive year.
  • In the Kryptos codebreaking competition, Caleb Hostetler and Noah Swartzendruber solved all three problems, to achieve the Turing Level of Achievement. Hannah Leaman, Ike Esh, and Silas Clymer solved two of the three problems to achieve the Babbage Level of Achievement.
  • Cameron Byer, Caleb Hostetler, and Hannah Leaman secured a top-16 finish out of 85 teams in the mid-Atlantic regional competition and advanced with alternate Noah Swartzentruber to North America Division Championships of the International Collegiate Programming Contest.


  • Lindsey Histand was awarded the Galen R. Lehman Outstanding Achievement in Research Award for her outstanding psychology research project, “A Comparison of Preference Assessment Modes & Methods.”
  • Brandon Higgins received the Judy H. Mullet Award for Internship Excellence, for his outstanding and consistent performance in his psychology internship with EMU Residence Life. [Read more about Brandon’s leadership of a community service project focused on literacy.]


In presenting these awards, Technical Director Shannon Dove offered a recent observation from a respondent working with the upcoming production of “First Night” (yes, the theater department is already at work on their fall 2021 production!): You had every excuse, every rationale, and indeed every good common-sense reason under these circumstances to do less but you chose to do more.

Those words apply equally the two honorees of the theater department for their efforts this academic year.

  • Anna Hoover received recognition for Outstanding Achievement in Theater, for her work-study contributions, dramaturge role in an original production and collaboration with VACA and for her invaluable assistant in the remounting of the Shrek the Musical production this spring.
  • Jeraya Harder was also a recipient of the Outstanding Achievement in Theater Award. She was the hard-working and eminently irreplaceable stage manager for Shrek The Musical.

Campus Life

Campus Activities Council

  • Jeremiah Yoder: Outstanding Leader Award, for his three years of contributions and leadership, including “unwavering dedication and relentless reliability,” said Tyler Goss, assistant director of student programs.
  • Ashley Schoenhardt, a first-year student, earned the most votes from her peers on the council for the CAC All-Star Award. She is “dedicated, welcoming and even as a first-year, a CAC pro,” said Goss.

Campus Ministries

Pastoral Assistants James Dunmore, Naomi Davis, Elizabeth Eby, Hailey Edmonds, Natalie Brown, and Skylar Hedgepath were recognized by Campus Pastor Brian Martin Burkholder for their work in challenging times and their contributions of relational ministry to the campus.

Center for Interfaith Engagement

James Dunmore was recognized as an interfaith pastoral assistant, the first in this role, which is supported by the Center for Interfaith Engagement and Campus Ministries. James was honored for his efforts to support faith diversity, religious pluralism, and interfaith engagement at EMU by Professor Tim Seidel, the center’s director.

Common Grounds Coffeehouse

Common Grounds Coffeehouse, located in the University Commons, is a student-run business and a central location for campus events. The following four students were honored for their leadership and management:

  • Sarah Rittenhouse, Events and Marketing Manager (1 year and 2 years as a barista)
  • Ethan Beiler, Finance Manager (1 year)
  • Lauren Hartzler, Operations Coordinator and General Manager (2 years and 1.5 years as a barista)
  • Emma Pirrung, Products Manager (2 years and 1.5 years as a barista)

 Director of Student Programs Rachel Roth Sawatzky offered this collective recognition: 

Each year, managers establish shared business goals for the year. This year’s management group set a primary goal of simply being open and running safely as a student run food establishment in the middle of a global pandemic. This meant a myriad of new logistics, health protocols, and staffing challenges unique to this year, as well as ongoing flexibility as institutional expectations changed through the course of the year depending on case counts and state mandates.  On top of this achievement, this group innovated to open a brand new online store and delivery service for our COVID months, and identified the specific priority for Common Grounds to be an open and safe space for all students at EMU, particularly those with minoritized identities, and to use their own social capital to advocate for equity and social justice. These would be tremendous accomplishments for any year, and especially this year. It is my honor to recognize their contributions to our campus life.   

Residence Life

Nine Community Assistants were recognized for multi-year service, commitment and dedication to EMU: Lindsey Histand, Addison Hawpe, Theo Yoder, Dwayne Hill, Sarah Grossen, Zach Shifflett, Jesse Landis, Ambrose Monahan and Asha Beck. “Each abounds in wisdom, passion and an incredible ability to foster community,” said Tyler Goss, assistant director of student programs.

Student Government Association

Co-presidents of the Student Government Association Anisa Leonard (May-December 2020), Allison Shelly and Justice Allen (May 2020-April 2021) were recognized for outstanding leadership by Dean of Students Shannon Dycus.

They say good leadership comes from those who lead by vision, not sight. Our SGA co- presidents exemplified this truth with us this year. Anisa Leonard, Justice Allen and Allison Shelley – through a pandemic, impacts of ongoing racial violence and a divisive election – you imagined a vision for community and safety for your peers. You gave voice in countless meetings, town halls, statements and websites to set tone and to resource, using your bodies to advocate for justice, willing and capable to see more of us. You’ve been outstanding leaders. Thank you. 

The co-presidents passed the gavel to the incoming leadership team of Faith Manickam, a rising senior majoring in biology; Aman Seyoum, a rising junior majoring in clinical lab science and Philip Krabill, a rising senior double-majoring in peacebuilding and development and Bible, religion, and theology.


Athletics recognized 35 students with 59 total awards, including 19 unique awards. Athletes are listed in alphabetical order. For more information on spring semester athletics awards, visit emuroyals.com.

Isaac Alderfer: Royals Athlete of the Week

                     ODAC Athlete of the Week (6 times)

                     All-ODAC First Team Indoor 800m

                     All-ODAC First Team Mile

                     All-South/Southeast Region Team Indoor 800m

                     All-South/Southeast Region Team Mile

                     Team Academic Achievement Award

Cassidy Armstrong:  National Academic Squad

Jonas Beachy: Team Academic Achievement Award

Rachel Breslin:  National Academic Squad

Megan Breidigan:  Royals Athlete of the Week

                     Team Academic Achievement Award

Emily Campbell: ODAC Pitcher of the Week

                     Royals Athlete of the Week

                     Team Academic Achievement Award

Clover Cooper:  National Academic Squad

Cor’shauna Cunningham:  ODAC Athlete of the Week

Jacob Durren: Team Academic Achievement Award

Alain Fiden: National Academic Squad

Ann Ghally: National Academic Squad

Lauren Hartzler:  National Academic Squad

                     Scholar of Distinction

Skylar Hedgepeth:

                     National Academic Squad

                     Scholar of Distinction

                     Team Academic Achievement Award

DJ Hill:       Royals Athlete of the Week

                     All-ODAC Team

Caleb Hostetler: Team Academic Achievement Award

Paris Hutchinson:  ODAC Player of the Week

Alijah Johnson: Royals Athlete of the Week

                     All-ODAC First Team Indoor 200m

                     All-South/Southeast Region Team Indoor 200m

Tim Jones:  Royals Athlete of the Week

                     All-ODAC Team

Kate Landis: National Academic Squad

Sierra Lantz:   Royals Athlete of the Week

Jaylon Lee: Royals Athlete of the Week

                     ODAC Player of the Week

                     D3baseball.com Team of the Week

Elizabeth Longacre:  National Academic Squad

Emily McCombs:  Royals Athlete of the Week

Bri Miller:   National Academic Squad

Elizabeth Miller:   Team Academic Achievement Award

Keely Mitchell:  National Academic Squad

Gage Riddick: Team Academic Achievement Award

Chyna Roberts: Team Academic Achievement Award

Eli Roeschley: Team Academic Achievement Award

Allison Shelly: All-ODAC Third Team Mile

                     All-South/Southeast Region Team Mile

                     All-South/Southeast Region Team 3000m

                     Team Academic Achievement Award

Bethany Shultz: Team Academic Achievement Award

Morgan Tricarico:  National Academic Squad

Brandy Troutman: ODAC Player of the Week

                     Royals Athlete of the Week

                     Most Defensive Saves in NCAA Div. III (8)

Tori Wigley:   Royals Athlete of the Week

Ahmed Zaatar:  Royals Athlete of the Week