Virtual Awards Ceremony Honors Graduates, Faculty, Staff

On Friday, May 8, 2020, The King’s College held its fourth annual formal award ceremony to honor outstanding students in the class of 2020 and to recognize faculty and staff who have made significant contributions to the King’s community.

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On Friday, May 8, 2020, The King’s College held its fourth annual formal award ceremony to honor outstanding students in the class of 2020 and to recognize faculty and staff who have made significant contributions to the King’s community. The event was held virtually over Zoom, and was attended by graduates, family members, and members of the College community.

Dr. Mark Hijleh, provost, delivered a welcome and invocation, praying, “When we think of truth, beauty, and goodness, we are thinking of You.” President Tim Gibson then introduced Jackson Fordyce (Business ’20), who was selected by his peers to deliver the senior address. Gibson highlighted Fordyce for his three years as a Student Services representative, his two years of service on the Interregnum Committee, and his commitment to the success of his fellow students. Gibson also shared how Fordyce produced a video blog with roommates in the 1407 apartment and holds an IMDB profile for his work as a child extra in True Grit (2010).

Fordyce said he wanted to spend his senior address remembering the moments the Class of 2020 shared together. He mentioned Drew Knudsen’s (Business ’20) seven interceptions in the “theo-political problem”–an informal game between the Men’s houses at King’s (“theologians” Lewis and Bonhoeffer vs. the politicians Reagan and Churchill). He remembered studying late in the Hanover lounge, playing “Heads Will Roll” in the Student Union, and eating “hundreds of slices of Grotto’s pizza.” He spoke of Leah Arrasmith, who entered King’s with the Class of 2020: “We are heartbroken that she is not here with us.” Fordyce concluded with a fellow classmate’s reflection that the most precious memories were the spontaneous ones just spending time with one another.

Athletic Director Bryan Finley presented the two athletic awards. The Scholar Athlete Award, awarded to the senior athlete graduating with the highest GPA, went to Leah Thomas (MCA ’20). Thomas played volleyball in 2018 and soccer in 2019 and achieved a 3.94 GPA while fulfilling all her team’s practice and game commitments. Jackson Kane (PPE ’20), Josiah Simons (PPE ’20), and Michel Wenzel (Business ’20) were also nominated. Athlete of the Year was awarded to Daniel Fuenzalida (PPE ’20), who played Men’s Soccer for all four seasons at King’s, served as Men’s Soccer captain in 2019-20, was President of the House of Dietrich Bonhoeffer this academic year, and interned at the World Evangelical Alliance in the United Nations in fall 2019. Other nominees for Athlete of the Year were Annie Kopack (MCA ’20), Christina Lewis (Business ’20), and Josiah Simons (PPE ’20).

Student Body President Koby Jackson (Humanities ’21) presented the four awards from The King’s Council, the College’s student government. Edward vanZandt (PPE ’20) received the Student Service Award for his consistent positive contributions to the student body, motivated not by title or prestige, but by his identity in Christ alone. Holly Shavelle (PPE ’20), Abigail Smith (PPE ’20), and Paris Welker-Widell (Business ’20) were also nominated.

Director of Residence Life Leticia Mosqueda, who is also a staff advisor to the House of Margaret Thatcher, was given the Outstanding Service to the House System Award for her dedication and mentorship to the women of Thatcher. Dr. Anthony Bradley, Christopher Josselyn, and Danise Stokeld were also nominated.

Joey Willis, Christian formation coordinator, received Staff of the Year. “He is a great listener, wise counselor, and servant leader,” Jackson noted. The other nominees were Andrea Lopez, Samantha Ryan, and David Leedy. Faculty of the Year went to Dr. David Tubbs, associate professor of politics. Dr. Joshua Kinlaw, Dr. Joseph Griffith, and Dr. Dami Kabiawu were also nominated. Jackson praised Tubbs’s “excellence with humility” as well as his sympathy for the senior class.

Hijleh introduced two additional faculty awards, chosen by fellow members of the College faculty. Tubbs and Dr. Kimberly Reeve were both nominated for the Faculty Service Award and Tubbs was selected as the winner. Hijleh remarked, “He did much to lift the spirits of the King’s community and to bolster connection when it was needed.” Dr. Joshua Blander received the Faculty Teaching Award for his “exceptional effectiveness in pedagogy.” Hijleh noted how students have consistently noted Blander’s skillful transition to remote teaching this semester. Kinlaw was also nominated for the Faculty Teaching Award.

Gibson presented the corresponding staff awards chosen by members of the College staff. Administrative Director of Academic Affairs Samantha Ryan received the Staff Service Award for her quiet faithfulness going “above and beyond to serve and support The King’s College community,” with Jennifer Anderson and Paul Middlekauff also nominated. Megan Dishman was awarded the Staff Leadership Award for demonstrating “exemplary influence and direction” this academic year. Dishman became Assistant Vice President of Marketing and Communication last September. Hijleh, Leedy, and Noah Hunter were also nominated.

On behalf of the Media, Culture, and the Arts program, Dr. Henry Bleattler, associate professor of history and the humanities, presented the MCA Capstone Award of Excellence to Mercedes Ronnander (MCA ’20). Ronnander’s  capstone project was a pilot episode plus TV series “bible” (describing a show’s tone, plot, location, characters, and development) for Keystone, a fantasy television series she has been building for almost eight years. Kimchean Koy (MCA ’20) and Caitlin Smith (MCA ’20) were also nominated.

Dr. Ethan Campbell, associate professor of English and literature, presented the MCA program’s Academic Excellence Award to Amelia Lehosit (English ’20), who will begin a Ph.D. in English at the University of Washington this fall. Campbell noted her creation of a pun-filled literary newsletter and her “uncommon writing talent and work ethic.”

Dr. Joshua Kinlaw, assistant professor of history and humanities, presented the Humanities Academic Excellence Award to Ava Grossman (Humanities ’20), recognizing her exceptional promise for future work or study in the humanities. Aaron Cho (Humanities ’20) and Sarah Stettheimer (Humanities ’20) were also nominated.

On behalf of the Politics, Philosophy, and Economics program, Dr. David Innes, professor of politics, delivered the Academic Excellence Award to Abigail Smith. This year, Smith was Interregnum Chair and administrator of the College’s Center for Hebraic Thought. Other nominees for this award were Holly Shavelle, Rachel Shinn (PPE ’20), and Zachary Wagner (PPE ’20).

Prof. Paul Glader, associate professor of journalism, media and entrepreneurship, presented the Roberta Green Ahmanson Journalism Award to Jillian Cheney (JCS ’20), who will begin the year-long Poynter-Koch journalism fellowship this summer. “You are intellectually curious. . . joyful but not sappy, skeptical but not cynical,” Glader said of Cheney, saying these qualities would serve her well in the field of journalism. Morgan Chittum (JCS ’20), Callie Patteson (JCS ’20), and Kassidy Vavra (JCS ’20) were also nominated for their accomplishments in professional journalism internships and the Empire State Tribune college paper.

Dr. Kimberly Reeve, associate professor of business, presented the Joe T. Ford Award to Benjamin Cook (Finance ’20), recognizing his grace under pressure and his willingness to make change in the business world. “We’ll miss your can-do attitude and your pursuit of excellence, and we can’t wait to see what God has in store for you,” said Reeve. Meric Pope (Business ’20) and Paris Welker-Widell were also nominated.

Dean of Students David Leedy presented the three final awards. The William R. Bright award went to Aaron Cho. During his time at King’s, Cho coordinated service opportunities for the House of C.S. Lewis, advocated for positive Christian engagement in the Middle East with the Philos Project, and taught English as a Second Language in New York City. The other nominees were Ivan Denizac Gonzalez (RTS ’20) and Taylor Dickerson (JCS ’20). The award is named in honor of the co-founder and former president of Campus Crusade for Christ and recognizes a student who embodies Bright’s passion for missions, evangelism, and discipleship.

Leedy presented the William Wilberforce Award to Abigail Smith, who proposed this year’s Interregnum theme of “Progress” and founded Students for Life, a student organization that exists to “protect life with reason and compassion.” The Wilberforce Award, named for the English statesman whose service in Parliament helped to end the slave trade in England, honors a graduate who represents the College’s mission to vigorously engage the public square with truth and civility. Sarah Fox (PPE ’20) and Abigail Murphy (Humanities ’20) were also nominated.

The Harriet Tubman Award is given in honor of Harriet Tubman, who, after escaping slavery, risked her life to rescue others and to be a voice for equality and human dignity. Leedy presented this award to Jackson Fordyce, noting his two years of service on the Honor Council and his two terms on the Interregnum Committee, as well as his work as Reeve’s faculty assistant. Kimchean Koy and Abigail Smith were also nominated.

Leedy concluded the evening inviting listeners to join for the virtual Commencement ceremony on May 9, and closed with a prayer drawing from Jeremiah 29:11: “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”

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