| Students Awarded for Academic Achievements
Berea College's Dining Services was packed wall to wall Monday night with the brightest students on campus for the annual Academic Awards Banquet.
Student Ni Ji accepts one of her several awards at the banquet.
Berea's esteemed President Larry Shinn was unable to be present for the night's celebration of hard work and diligent study, but he was happy to welcome guests beforehand. "I get to see some of the best and brightest students, and those who don't believe themselves to be," he said of his excitement on being able to attend the banquet for even a few moments. "It really isn't about the courses you take or the grades you receive Ö do you have complexity in your living?" Shinn asked in hopes that students would stop and reflect upon their achievements.
This year, there were two Phi Kappa Phi Student Scholars who were invited to speak before the awards were given out. Phi Kappa Phi recognizes the high scholarship and character of students in all departments and areas and stimulates academic achievement.
Kaydene Jones from Jamaica is a business administration major, and Emilie Throop is a biology major from Sewanee, Tenn. For Jones, being a Phi Kappa Phi Scholar means "serving as a model for the promotion of learning combined with leadership and service. This requires using my position as a student to serve as well as inspire those around me." The theme of both speakers' addresses was "Recognizing Opportunity: Challenging Boundaries."
Jones encouraged students to break out of the mold and get involved in the activities around them. She spoke to students passionately, advising them by saying, "Search for opportunities to do activities that pique your interest and allow you to do whatever you are passionate about while bringing some form of service to others because you might just find that this is the most rewarding aspect of your college career."
Leonard Gordon was the recipient of this year's Father Henry L. Parker Scholarship, which is given to a student of African descent who demonstrates high academic achievement and ethnic pride. The selected student applies his or her faith to everyday living, especially in promoting interracial and multicultural understanding. "It made me proud and I am very glad to see that my ethnic pride was being noticed," said Gordon, who is a senior from Freetown, Sierra Leone. "It gives me hope that one can still maintain their culture in this globalised village that we live in. Furthermore, I remember what my grandmother told me before I left home: 'If you donít know where you are going, know where you are coming from.' This award made me realize that I still know my roots and they are an integral part of me."
This year's Francis S. Hutchins Scholar was Jamie Ward, a junior Spanish major from McKee, Ky. The award is given annually to a junior or senior from the eastern Kentucky counties that are served by the E. O. Robinson Mountain Fund. It is given to the student who submits the best work of research, art or literature on an Appalachian topic. In order to be considered for the award, the student must have outstanding academic marks and labor record as well as demonstrate a commitment to the eastern Kentucky region. Ward's entry was a poem that was based on her experiences growing up in the Appalachian region. "I feel very honored to receive this award and appreciative to the donors who are so gracious and giving to Berea College," she said. "I would like to thank them for their inspiring generosity."
Mary Rush, BCnow's own editor, was also a big winner at the banquet, winning a total of three awards. Rush was most excited about the The Lyle and Dorothy Ferer Cary Award for Excellence in Writing, which is presented to a junior or senior student who has achieved excellence in writing.
Rush submitted a chapbook pf poems that she had created as a project for a poetry class in a past semester. She was surprised at the award, saying, "I never thought I could write poetry, so the fact that my work earned this award was a great surprise and an even greater honor!" Rush went on to say, "This award encourages me to try new things and to not limit myself in any way. Receiving this honor gives me the confidence to know that I can accomplish anything I set my mind to."
Another senior who took home a number of awards was Ni Ji, an accomplished biology major from Nanjing, China. She is proud to have received all her accolades, but she was particularly honored by the Doris and Harold Rosenbaum Scholarship for study at one of the nation's leading graduate schools. As she prepares to graduate, she reflects on her time at Berea, saying, "I am very grateful for all the assistance and opportunities that Berea has provided me in the past four years. I sincerely thank those who nominated me, my professors, my mentors, my fellow students and the college for helping grow into who I am today."