The Blue & Gray Press

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Campus encouraged to nominate students active in the community for Eagle Awards

4 min read
Dean Rucker stands with three students on a stage. The male student standing next to Dean Rucker is holding a framed certificate and an award.

Students will have a one time choice between old and new general education requirements. (John Wray | Blue & Gray Press)


Staff Writer

The Eagle Awards are accepting student nominations online until March 11. These awards, a tradition that began at UMW in 2016 to honor student leaders, recognizes students, campus organizations, faculty and staff who have displayed exemplary leadership, service, academic excellence and have made a significant contribution to the community.

“UMW students play such an important role in making UMW a special place, and student leaders have a major impact on helping UMW feel like home for so many other students, so it is essential to take the time to recognize everything they have done during their time at UMW,” said Sandrine Sutphin, the director of Student Activities and Engagement.

The Eagle Awards are a collaboration between the Office of Student Activities and Engagement and the Center for Community Engagement. Last year, eleven students, seven organizations and one faculty or staff member was recognized. Eligibility for these awards is open to any qualifying student, organization, or faculty and staff members based on the type of award.

“There are a few awards that are specifically for graduating seniors, and others that are specifically for underclassmen,” said Sutphin. Full descriptions of all of the awards can be found on the UMW website under Student Activities and Engagement.

Nominations are currently open and will remain open until Wednesday, March 11. They can be submitted by a form online at MyUMW. According to the SAE page on the UMW website, “Individuals may not nominate themselves; however, they can nominate an organization they are in.”

The Grace Mann Launch Award closes its nominations on Friday, March 6 to allow time for interviews. “There is an interview process of the top candidates selected for the Grace Mann Launch Award as it has the largest monetary scholarship,” said Sutphin. The winner last year was senior Erin Shaw.

“There are monetary benefits for a few of the awards,[including the] Prince B. Woodard Emerging Leader and Outstanding Leader Awards, as well as the Grace Mann Launch Award,” said Sutphin. “For all the awards, [winners receive] recognition, a framed certificate, and an award.”

This year is the inaugural year for the James Farmer Defining a Legacy Award. According to the description on the website, “This award is awarded to a student, staff, or faculty member who creates a direct action project, overcomes a substantial obstacle, challenges an oppressive system, and spreads their cause.”

According to Sutphin, “review committees, comprised of students, faculty and staff review the nominations within a category and score them individually, then the Eagle Awards Planning Committee compiles the score and takes the average, in order to choose the winners.”

There are separate review committees for the Grace Mann Launch Award and the James Farmer Defining a Legacy Award.

Paige Hildebrand, a graduating senior at the time, received the Prince Woodard Outstanding Leader Award in 2019.

“It was absolutely fantastic to see everyone who was nominated and everyone who had won Eagle Awards, because there are so many things constantly happening on campus that sometimes, the amazing things others are doing escape your notice. And really, it’s nice to see others being celebrated for all the work they did during the year,” Hildebrand said.

During her time at UMW, she served as treasurer for a year and a half in the campus club, Students Helping Honduras.

“I traveled down to Honduras twice and both times inspired me so much [that] when I came back for the spring of 2019 semester I was determined to do as much as I could to help the families down in Honduras. I sat as head of our 5K committee, coming up with plans, managing the different groups working to pull this feat off. Together, we managed to raise over $1,000, and also got the word out about our organization.”

Senior Rebecca Messier, an English major enrolled in the Elementary Education Master’s program at UMW, was awarded the Unsung Hero award last year. It recognizes students who took the initiative to help their club or group achieve their goals behind the scenes.

“This past year I worked as a Lead Consultant at the Writing Center. I presented at an out-of- state conference for other writing center tutors, as well as at a UMW-wide conference for on- campus consultants. I proposed and led a project to implement ‘Pop-Up Writing Centers’ to reach more people across campus and helped to train and lead consultants within the Writing Center.

“The award felt like a nice recognition,” Messier said.

“The ceremony has grown each year. Last year we had approximately 100 students, faculty, and staff in attendance, and we hope it will continue to grow,” said Sutphin. “These students deserve recognition, even if they’re nominated and don’t win, we want them to know the impact of their commitment and contribution to UMW.”

The ceremony will be held on Thursday, April 16 at 6 p.m. in the Chandler Ballroom. All students, faculty, and staff are invited and encouraged to attend to help celebrate those who have been awarded and have made significant contributions to the UMW community.

Eagle Award winners are given campus wide recognition, a framed certificate, and an award. (UMW Website)

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