EMU Honors, Awards and Recognitions – 2023-24

EMU Honors, Awards and Recognitions – 2023-24

More than 100 Eastern Mennonite University students were recognized for accomplishments and achievements during the 2023-24 academic year during a special recognition ceremony on Tuesday, April 30.

“The student recognition convocation time is when we gather to celebrate,” said Jon Swartz, associate dean of students at EMU, opening the event.

View a recording of the ceremony on EMU’s Facebook page.


Academic Success Center (ASC) – presented by Cathy Smeltzer Erb

Anna Filipkowski was selected as Peer Tutor of Distinction for her excellence in tutoring. “For two years, Anna has guided students through the mechanics of accounting and business with patience, humor, and candor,” Erb said. “You made the ASC a better place.”

Teacher Education – presented by Holly Rusher

Sarah Bascom: Virginia Scholars Award, which is awarded by the Delta Kappa Gamma Society to an “outstanding graduate with an excellent educator future.”

Maria Bettilyon, Shania Coleman, Alex Gulisano, Lyndsay Harris, Erin Keith and Lucy Unzicker: Teachers of Promise Award, given to promising and gifted preservice teachers who represent excellence in the classroom, exhibit a strong commitment to the profession and exemplify the characteristics of a reflective, caring practitioner.

Judith Hoffman, Kassidy Secrist, Madelyn Wood and Dawson Woodruff: Courage to Teach Award, given to students who demonstrate dedication and effectiveness in teaching, model value-based and highly principled behaviors, model reflection in thought and practice, demonstrate a genuine sense of caring for the students and model a passion for caring.

Biology, Chemistry and Environmental Sustainability – presented by Laurie Yoder and Jim Yoder

The following students were recognized for academic excellence in their core courses:
Renae Benner:
Outstanding First-Year Chemistry Student; and
Maria Longenecker: Outstanding Second-Year Biology Student.

The following students were recognized for exceptional academic and scholarly accomplishments:
Laura Craft: Outstanding Senior Chemistry Student;
Abby Kaufman and Megan Miller: Outstanding Senior Biology Student; and
Anika Hurst: Outstanding Senior in Environmental Science.

Laura Craft: Biology/Chemistry/ENVS Award for Exceptional Service, awarded for exceptional servant leadership in the sciences.

Abigail Forrest, Elaine Miranda Perez, Sadie Oesch and Marciella Shallomita: Award for Excellence in Research, awarded for exceptional performance in undergraduate research in the sciences.

Business and Leadership presented by Jim Leaman, Joohyun Lee, Johanna Burkholder and Lindy Backues

The following students were recognized for outstanding academic performance in their majors:
Ben Alderfer: Outstanding Business Analytics Student Award;
Rileyanne Collins: Outstanding Rec and Sport Management Student Award;
Mesa Dula: Outstanding Accounting Student Award;
Lizzy Kirkton: Outstanding Business Administration Student Award; and
Nathan Oostland: Outstanding Marketing Student Award.

Jansen Miller received the Outstanding Achievement Award for academic achievement in the Business and Leadership program. Anna Filipkowski received the Exceptional Service Award and Lizzy Kirkton received the Exceptional Leadership Award for their service and leadership in the program.

History – presented by Mary Sprunger

Aidan Yoder received the 2023-24 Outstanding Senior History Award. He was recognized for his research paper in Humanities Seminar, “Protest Now! EMU War Resistance and Response After Vietnam.”

“The personal became academic, and the academic became political, as Aidan worked on this paper alongside his leadership in recent protests, including the bell-ringing that successfully led EMU to call for a cease-fire in Gaza,” said Sprunger, presenting Yoder with “Martyrs Mirror,” a record of dissenters who challenged government-mandated religious conformity.

Language and Literature – presented by Kevin Seidel, Chad Gusler and M. Esther Showalter

Lydia Longacre: The Carroll Yoder Award for Teaching Excellence. The award is given to a student who has demonstrated academic excellence in literary studies and education courses and has shown a clear call to the teaching profession.
Hannah Landis: Omar Eby Writing Award, awarded to a student who demonstrates excellence in the craft of creative writing and provides insightful critique and support for other writers in creative workshops.
Maria Menjivar: Ervie L. Glick Award for Excellence in World Language Study, for exhibiting academic excellence as a Spanish major and showing a clear sense of call to pursue graduate work or use their language degree in service to the church.
Lucy Unzicker received the Ray Elvin Horst Award for Excellence in Spanish (for academic excellence in Spanish courses) and the James R. Bomberger Award for Excellence in TESOL (for outstanding performance in TESOL classes and practicums).

MathematicsEngineering and Computer Science – presented by Daniel Showalter and Daniel King

The following students were recognized for demonstrating academic excellence, service and contributions to the community and culture at EMU:
Noel Abeje
and Hebron Mekuria: Outstanding Seniors in Computer Science Award;
Lane Burkholder: Outstanding Senior in Mathematics Award;
Joel Kornhaus: Outstanding Senior in Engineering Award; and
Jacob Hess: Special Recognition in Engineering Award.

Iris Anderson, Laura Benner and Renae Benner received the Turing level of achievement award for their second-place finish in the Kryptos Codebreaking Competition.

Music – presented by Benjamin Bergey and David Berry

Maggie Garber McClary: Pioneer Award for being the first-ever graduate of the Music and Peacebuilding major at EMU. Read more about her and the innovative program here.

Luke Haynes: Distinguished Performer, awarded for musical excellence as a performing artist. “Those of us who spent time here in Lehman Auditorium know that the room we have downstairs with an organ and piano in it that used to be called a practice room is a room we’ve referred to the last four years as Luke’s office,” Music Program Director David Berry joked as he presented Haynes with the award.

Judith Hoffman: Ensemble Leadership Award for providing dedicated musical leadership as concertmaster of the EMU Orchestra.

Social Sciences and Professions – presented by Jenni Holsinger, Dr. Gaurav Pathania and Dr. Carol Grace Hurst

Iris Anderson, Gracie Conner, Jesse Kanagy, Lauryn Moore and Lucas Sorensen were recognized as this year’s initiates in the Alpha Kappa Delta International Sociology Honor Society, earned for their record of high academic achievement and contribution of social research for the purpose of service. They will wear light blue honor cords at Commencement on Sunday.

Brianna “Bri” Allen: NASW-VA BSW Student of the Year Award, which is given to a BSW student who demonstrates exemplary academic performance and leadership. Read more about her award here.

Campus Life

Awards presented by Brian Martin Burkholder, Mike Ramer and Tyler Goss

Office of Faith and Spiritual Life

Seniors Laurel Evans, Kate Landis and Julie Weaver were recognized for nurturing faith and spiritual life on campus through their work as student chaplains. They will wear light blue honors cords at Commencement.

Campus Activities Council (CAC)

Andrea Acevedo was awarded with the CAC Campus Hospitality Award, which is given to students who create spaces of belonging and connection for the student body.

“Andrea listens to her peers and works hard at creating and hosting events for them with CAC,” Mike Ramer said. “…Her CAC coworkers say that she is dependently calm when challenges arise and is so fun to be around.”

Common Grounds

Laura Benner, Valentina Barahona, Margarita Hernandez-Perez and Laura Craft received the Common Grounds Excellence in Leadership Award.

“This team is steeped in determination and a lot of love for their craft, and they’ve percolated a culture of excellence,” said Tyler Goss, midway through a string of coffee-related puns.

Engage Awards

Emu bird trophies given to students who earned the most Engage Points this semester.
First place: Samuel Myers (40 points)
Second place: Marciella Shallomita (37 points)
Third place: Malia Bauman (33 points)

Student Government Association (SGA)

Iris Anderson, Hannah Landes Beck, Ariel Morales Bonilla, Anne Cornelius, Betty Debebe, Genesis Figueroa, Evan Kauffman and Maria Longenecker received the SGA Outstanding Leadership Award.

Current SGA co-presidents Hannah Landes Beck and Iris Anderson ceremoniously handed off the gavel — after it slowly lowered from the ceiling of Lehman Auditorium — to incoming co-presidents Arelys Martinez Fabian and Genesis Figueroa.

Athletics (includes winter and spring seasons)

Athletic Department Awards – presented by Justin McIlwee

Freshman of the Year – Angel David: Women’s Track & Field and Jowell Gonzalez Santiago: Men’s Track & Field
Athlete of the Year – Ray Ray Taylor: Women’s Track & Field and Bellamy Immanuel: Men’s Cross Country and Track & Field
President’s Award – Megan Miller: Women’s Volleyball and Ariel Morales Bonilla: Men’s Soccer

Men’s Basketball

Daijordan Brown – Royals Athlete of the Week
Jazen Walker – Royals Athlete of the Week

Women’s Basketball

Kayla Surles – Royals Athlete of the Week; Third Team All-ODAC
Mya Hamlet Moore – Royals Athlete of the Week
Jeriyah Osborne – Royals Athlete of the Week

Indoor Track & Field

Bellamy Immanuel – Royals Athlete of the Week; set school record in the 5000m
Jowell Gonzalez Santiago – Royals Athlete of the Week; set school record in the 500m; USTFCCCA All-South Region – 400m Dash
Damon Morgan – Royals Athlete of the Week
Angel David – Royals Athlete of the Week
Jenna Weaver – Royals Athlete of the Week
Lucy Unzicker – ODAC Farm Bureau Scholar Athlete of the Year
Men’s 4×400 Relay (Bryson Hunter, Da’Shawn Winters, Joseph Kerr, Gray Urglavitch) – Third-Team All-ODAC

Men’s Volleyball

David Ward – Royals Athlete of the Week; CVC Player of the Week; Royals Tournament All-Tournament Team; eclipsed 500 career kills; Second-Team All-CVC
Ben Childers – Royals Athlete of the Week; eclipsed 150 career blocks
Nate McGhee – Eclipsed 600 career kills; Royals Tournament All-Tournament Team
Tyler Oaks – Royals Tournament All-Tournament Team; eclipsed 1500 career assists
Rey De La Cruz – FrogJump.com DIII Team of the Week


Aidan Miller – Royals Athlete of the Week
Jack Dooley – Royals Athlete of the Week
Ethan Spraker – Royals Athlete of the Week; eclipsed 150 career hits
Nick Arnold – Royals Athlete of the Week; eclipsed 100 career hits
Alex Gulisano – Royals Athlete of the Week
Damen Tapscott – Royals Athlete of the Week; ODAC Pitcher of the Week


Makayla Cyzick – Royals Athlete of the Week; ODAC Pitcher of the Week
Sydney Orndorff – Royals Athlete of the Week
Sam Hensley – Royals Athlete of the Week; eclipsed 100 career hits
Natalye Graham – Eclipsed 200 career strikeouts

Outdoor Track & Field

Ray Ray Taylor – Royals Athlete of the Week; ODAC Field Athlete of the Week
Lucy Unzicker – Royals Athlete of the Week
Bellamy Immanuel – Royals Athlete of the Week


Courtney Crawford – Royals Athlete of the Week

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