Honor Awards Dinner 05/03/2023

Our winners for the Honors Awards Dinner 2024

Students, faculty, and staff celebrated one another's achievements this academic year.
May 15, 2024

Last week, the Wells College community gathered together for the final annual Honors Awards Dinner. This cherished tradition honored individuals who have exemplified excellence, leadership, and dedication across various spheres of campus life. From academic brilliance to leadership prowess, these awards spotlighted the true heart and soul of the Wells community, reminding us all what it means to strive for greatness and support one another along the way.

Prizes in the Arts and Humanities

Carol Stull Prize for Dance Performance – Sadie Coleman '24
Established in 2004 in honor of Carol Stull and awarded to a graduating senior who has excelled in dance performance, both in technical accomplishment and expressive range.

M. Helena Zachos Prize for Best Short Story – Makayla Rockhold '24
Awarded to the student who has submitted the best English prose written during the year.

Class of 1905 Prize in Poetry – August Merrill '27
Established in 1930. Awarded for the best poem or poems written by an undergraduate during the year.

Catherine B. DePau Prize (Academy of American Poets) – Abigail Colvin '26, Honorable Mention – August Merrill '27
Established at Wells in 1983 by the Academy of American Poets in honor of Catherine Boyer DePau, class of 1924. Awarded for the best poem or group of poems submitted by a student.

Julia Taylor Martin Prize in American History – Fred VanBeuren '24
Awarded to the student who, during the academic year, has submitted a superior essay within the field of American history.

History/Political Science Prize – Drew Legaretta '26
Awarded to that student of high standing in history or political science who has shown the greatest ability to use her/his training in promoting the intellectual and social life of the College, as well as the greatest promise of usefulness in the future.

Rose Hill ’98 Prize in Creative Nonfiction – Kayla Groth '24
Established in 2009 in memory of Rose Hill '98. Awarded to the student whose creative nonfiction best reflects Rose Hill's honesty and artistry. Judged this year by faculty in English.

Chronicle Prize – Kayla Groth '24
Established in 1906, this prize is awarded to the student who has been the most valuable contributor to the Chronicle magazine throughout the year. Classroom work in English is also considered.

Helen Gertrude Dean Prize for Dramatic Expression – Katie Ostrander '24
Awarded to a member of the senior class who has exhibited the best efforts in dramatics, represented by characterization and expression. Established in 1925 by Helen Gertrude Dean ‘25.

Kate Clugston '14 Prize in Theatre – Katie Ostrander '24
Awarded annually to a member of the senior class who, apart from on-stage performance,
has made an outstanding contribution to Wells theatre, either by one striking achievement
or through continuous dedication. Established in honor of Kate Clugston ‘14, who was a playwright, poet, and English teacher and initiated the public relations office at Wells, serving as its director from 1944 to 1947.

Kathryn Walker '64 Prize in Acting – Bria Hines '25
The Kathryn Walker ‘64 Prize in Acting recognizes a student of any class who, in the last year and in the judgment of the panel, has done the best job of acting in a play on-campus or in an off-campus play in which a committee member is involved. Established in 2018 by G. Alan Clugston, professor emeritus of English.

Theatre and Dance Prize for Choreography – Katie Ostrander '24
Awarded to a senior who has distinguished himself or herself in the creative, teaching, and performing facets of choreography.

Margaret Schwartz Music Prize – Alexander Blaine '24
Awarded to a member of the graduating class for outstanding performance work in music. Established and endowed by Margaret Schwartz.

Prizes in the Social Sciences

Carter A. Woods Prize – Joseph Cuddy '24
Established in 1972 by Patricia Woods Reed '54 and Barbara Woods Hillman '58 in honor of the retirement of their father, Carter A. Woods, professor of sociology from 1931 to 1972. Awarded to the student graduating with a major in sociology and anthropology whose actions most typify the ideals and scholarship of Dr. Woods in his 41 years at Wells.

Ida B. Wells–Barnett Prize in Criminal Justice – Kalie Julien-Leach '24
Established in 2018 and awarded to that member of the graduating class who has demonstrated a deep understanding of the criminal justice system and a commitment to the pursuit of justice for all peoples.  

Wall Street Journal Prize – Diya Baldev '26
Awarded each year for excellence in work in economics and the Corporate Affiliates Investment Fund.

Excellence in Teacher Education Award – Wren Olsen '24
This award is given to a student who has a passion for teaching. The recipient understands the complex decision-making skills teachers use every day and has shown the ability to apply them during student teaching. This student has internalized the tenets of inclusive education and equity pedagogy and has demonstrated their commitment to providing rich educational experiences for all students in line with the Wells College mission.

Outstanding Business Major Award – Zachary Cronk '25 and James Lucey '26
Given to one or more business students who have demonstrated high academic achievement, leadership and outstanding performance in their business classes.

Susan W. and Pike Sullivan Entrepreneur Award – Mary Pearl Echard '24
Established in 2018, this prize is awarded to the member of the graduating class who has demonstrated a deep interest and understanding of entrepreneurship and/or social entrepreneurship.

Margaret Schwartz Psychology Prize – Sadie Coleman '26
Awarded to that member of the graduating class who has demonstrated consistent excellence in her work in psychology. Established and endowed by Margaret Schwartz.

Dorothy Allison Razor's Edge (Women's, Transgender, and Queer Studies) – Marissa Laird '24
Awarded to that member of the graduating class who has demonstrated consistent excellence in her work in psychology. Established and endowed by Margaret Schwartz.

Prizes in the Natural and Mathematical Sciences

Eleanor C. McMullen Biology Prize – Vanessa Patterson '24
Awarded to a graduating senior for exceptional performance in biology in honor of Eleanor C. McMullen, professor of biology from 1935 to 1961.

Ruth M. Dunlap Class of '11 Prize in Chemistry – Cassie Pierce '25
Awarded to the student who, at the end of her/his senior year, has established the best record in her/his class in chemistry courses.

Nancy Ann Reed Class of '50 Chemistry Prize – Kayla Filitrault '24
Established in 1951 by the class of 1950 and friends in honor of Nancy Reed '50. Awarded to a member of the graduating class for excellence in chemistry.

Wells Women in Science Prize – Kayla Filitrault '24
Awarded to the member of the graduating class who has done outstanding work in at least two of the sciences, and who has demonstrated an interest in and an ability for a career in graduate work and research and/or teaching, together with a commitment to the advancement of women in science.

CRC Press Freshman Chemistry Achievement Award – India Buff '27
Recognition for outstanding achievement by a freshman in the introductory chemistry courses.

Distinguished Health Sciences Student Award – Isabella Ciancio '24
Presented annually to an outstanding senior in health sciences on the basis of scholarship, service and notable experiential learning accomplishments.

Early-Career Health Sciences Student Award – Alexis Searle '26
Awarded to a health sciences major who has demonstrated exceptional commitment to the health sciences through service to the community, experiential learning and academic excellence. This award is open to all health sciences students, but priority for consideration will be given to a first-, second- or third-year student.

Senior Pre-Vet and Animal Health Award – Isabella Ciancio '24
Established in 2022, this award is presented annually to an outstanding senior based on animal-based research, service and notable experiential learning accomplishments.

General Prizes

Koch Student Library Prize in the Special Interest Category – Kalie Julien-Leach '24
Awarded to the seniors who have the best, not the largest, collections of books in their "special interest collection." Established in 1937 by the Chicago Wells Club, and endowed in 1943 by Ruth Chamberlain Koch, class of 1907.

Ariel Lawson '08 Memorial Prize – Wren Olsen '24
Awarded to a student in good academic standing who has been an active servant in the governance of Wells College and in student life. First preference will be given to a female student. Hir dedication to the College must be expressed with the purpose of maintaining and perpetuating the Wells "Sisterhood." This must be a student who fights no-holds barred for what ze believes is right even in the face of opposition, while maintaining a commitment to building the Wells and Aurora communities. Ze should also be committed toward solving larger issues of economic and social justice.

William Nicholas Liberi '05 Memorial Prize for TLGBQ Activism and Scholarship – Makayla Rockhold '24
Awarded annually to a current student in good academic standing who has demonstrated a commitment to transgender and queer issues, especially through hir services as an ally to the Transgender, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Questioning and Allies (TLGBQA) community via activism, visibility, literary or artistic endeavors.

Faculty Awards

Wells College Excellence in Academic Advising Award – Deborah Gagnon, Professor of Psychology and Health Sciences
Academic advising is a vitally important responsibility of the faculty at Wells College, and we are pleased to be able to recognize the outstanding contributions of our faculty through the College's Excellence in Academic Advising Award. The purpose of this award is to recognize the fundamental importance of academic advising to the students of Wells College as they choose their courses and major field and plan activities to support their academic and career goals.

Wells College Excellence in Teaching Award – James Miranda, Assistant Professor of Creative Writing
Excellence in teaching is most highly valued at Wells College, and we are pleased to recognize the outstanding contributions of our faculty through the award of the College's Excellence in Teaching medal. The intention of this award is to recognize the fundamental importance of the quality of teaching to the mission of Wells College and to support faculty in their pursuit of excellence in teaching. The selection of the recipient is always a difficult one since Wells College has an outstanding faculty notable for its dedication to teaching.

Collegiate Cabinet Awards

Community Education and Social Activism Award – Black Student Union
Goes to a student or organization whose spirit advances the Wells College mission to "educate students to think critically, reason wisely and act humanely as they cultivate meaningful lives" and has, through their programs and activities during the academic year, educated the Wells community regarding issues of social justice and activism.

Shelby Harris Outstanding Quiet Influence Award – Isabella Ciancio '24
Recognizes a student leader who serves as a quiet influence on campus. The nominee need not have served in an executive office, but through continuous commitment and interaction with students and organizations across campus, has made a significant difference. Shelby Harris was a psychology professor at Wells from 1961 to 1991. Professor Harris was a principled man who tried to make a difference in the world while never failing to act with kindness and caring in his personal life. He touched many lives with the generosity of his spirit and the warmth of his heart, but he did so quietly with no expectation of recognition or reward.

Most Organized Committee – The Coven
This award honors a Collegiate committee who has most efficiently fulfilled its constitutional obligations and has best facilitated open communication within the campus community.

Best New Club – The Outdoors Club
This award honors a club introduced in the current school year that has worked efficiently to bring the student body around a common interest and has most successfully fulfilled its mission.

Student Program of the Year – Katie Ostrander '24 and the Crew of Mary’s Wedding
In recognition of a program on the Wells College campus that had outstanding attendance and exceptional student satisfaction.

Collaborative Program of the Year – Dean of Students Karey Pine and the Wells College Clubhouse Team

Student Leader of the Year – Elizabeth Purcell '24
This award honors a member of the student body who has demonstrated strong character and an active engagement with his or her peers. This individual has made a profound and positive impact on the community through his or her actions.

Community Service Impact AwardAurora Fire Department and Student Volunteers

Student Life Award –  Rebecca Yacovone
This award is given to the faculty or staff member who best supports students and goes above and beyond to advocate on their behalf.

Express Cup – Wren Olsen '24
Given to a student who embodies all that Wells has to offer with a spirit that shines through their involvement on campus.

Student Affairs Awards

Outstanding Student Organization Advisor – Leah Elliot, Assistant Professor of Biology
In recognition of contributions to the success and support of a student organization at Wells College.

Most Improved Student Organization – Wells Pride
In recognition of its efforts in improving the organization through significant advancement towards its goals.

Outstanding Student Organization – Black Student Union
In recognition of its success and support of student development, leadership and campus involvement.

Outstanding Volunteer Service – Sabrina He '24
In recognition of service to the local, national or global communities.

Dean of Students Legacy Award – Wren Olsen '24
Honors a student or students who has/have worked to create policies, processes and programs that will leave an enduring mark on the Wells campus. This award recognizes the importance of developing systems and traditions that will benefit students in the future and the significance of leaving a legacy.

Phi Beta Kappa Inductees

To be elected into Phi Beta Kappa is a singular accomplishment: only about 10% of the nation’s institutions of higher learning have earned the distinction of a Phi Beta Kappa chapter and only about 10% of the graduates of these institutions are invited to join, which makes the invitation process one of the most selective in the nation.  Each year, only 1% of the nation’s graduating seniors is invited to join.

  • Sadie Coleman '24
  • Kayla Groth '24
  • Sasha Lamoree '24
  • Max Odum '24
  • Zachary Odum '24
  • Wren Olson '24
  • Cassie Pierce '24
  • Serina Sheradin '24

BrierMae Ossont

Social Media Coordinator

BrierMae is Wells College's Social Media Coordinator, providing insight on content creation and social media as a community building tool. They are a graduate of Wells College and are passionate about sharing the campus and community with the wider world.

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