2020 Spring Academic Awards
Presentation of Awards
Rob Gunther-Mohr Award
Given in memory of Rob Gunther-Mohr, founding faculty member and beloved teacher and colleague, to the student who best exhibits independent critical judgment, a love of reading and ideas, and an abiding compassion for others.
Recipient: Sarah Kersey
Presenter: Jim Baucom, Professor of Education
Sarah, your love of learning and your capacity to apply what you learn in the most caring and humanistic way make you more than deserving of this award. You don’t just show up in your courses, work hard and earn good grades; you experience genuine eureka moments on a regular basis and get excited about the potential for new ideas to improve not just your own life, but the lives of others. You care deeply about diversity, neurodiversity, social justice and many other passions that influence your writing, your work in the Center for Neurodiversity, and your work as a Resident Advisor. In the classroom, you are generous and kind to others, always reaching out a helpful and empathetic hand. It is truly an honor to present you with the Rob Gunther-Mohr Award.
Career Readiness Award
Given to the student who has made the most strides in demonstrating professionalism in the workplace and developing a career plan.
Recipient: Nate Gulley
Presenter: Jan Coplan
The recipient of this award has been proactive in securing internship opportunities this year both with LCIRT in the fall and remotely this semester with Harris Computer Systems as a Software Developer. This student has made workplace readiness a priority. They have earned as an impressive number of 12 internship credits in Computer Science.
They have made employment after Landmark College a goal by interviewing with EY in October. Lastly, the recipient has been an ambassador for the Hasbro partnership, speaking about his experience with parents and students.
This year’s award goes to the well deserving, Nate Gulley.
Congratulations Nate. You have set a stellar example of how to use your time at Landmark College to develop your career plan.
First Year Student Award
Given to the student who has demonstrated an ongoing process of self-reflection, self-awareness, and self-advocacy that has led to significant achievement of first year academic goals.
Recipient: Nicolas Sinaiko
Presenter: Sabrina Durand, Assistant Professor
Hi, my name is Sabrina Durand. I’m an assistant professor in the Department of Education, and among the primary reasons why I chose to teach at Landmark College was something in its mission—this idea of transforming the way teachers teach and how students learn. So, actually, in this year of teaching one of the students who I think exemplifies this idea of being very reflective and aware of his learning and how he wants to grow and using that as a way to advocate for himself as a student is Nic. I’ve seen how he has grown and is growing, I should say transforming, as a learner in the classes that he’s taken with me. And I truly admire that because that very behavior has also really helped me to think about how I can transform my teaching in some small and important ways. So congratulations Nic! I love the way that you learn. I love your commitment to learning. And I love that you go back and reflect on your behavior in the classroom and your approaches, and you really try to change that—to improve, to enhance your experience as a student. Congratulations!
Math Excellence Award
The award for excellence in mathematics goes to the student who is serious about further study in mathematics. The student actively participates in discussions, communicates clearly about mathematical concepts, and demonstrates inquisitiveness, dedication, consistency, and preparedness: the hallmarks of a successful analytic and logical thinker and problem solver.
Recipient: Wolf Elkan
Presenter: Thomas Kern
Throughout this semester, Wolf Elkan has asked me a wide variety of questions, both above and beyond the course and mathematical questions in general, that are exactly the sort of questions that a true mathematician should be asking. In class, for instance, what happens to the concept of limits in this gross case?
A successful mathematician asks these deep, nit-picky questions about any topic they encounter and some questions he’s already come up with an answer for: Can we abstract the notion of repeated application of a function? Can the n-ominioes tile a rectangle? What is the sum of the first n squares?
A successful mathematician is curious about a wide range of mathematical topics, since any one of them might be relevant to a particular problem they’re working on.
Wolf also communicates mathematics clearly and effectively—another important skill for any mathematician.
Pat Jaquith Award
Given to the mathematics student whose extraordinary effort and progress over the year is consistently admired by professors, peers, and advisors. Through hard work, attentiveness, and diligence with assignments, the student is becoming a skilled problem solver; one who has learned to think logically and symbolically, to reason analytically, and to communicate clearly about mathematical concepts.
Recipient: Connor Kleckner
Presenter: Doug Lynch
I want to commend you on all the hard work you have done this year in mathematics.
You have been the most committed, diligent, hard-working student I have worked with this year.
You have overcome many challenges and have improved a great deal in your understanding and capabilities in mathematics. You’ve never wavered in your efforts.
It’s been great to work with you and get to know you this year. I want to wish you the best in your continuing education and look forward to hearing about the good work that I know you will be doing in the future.
Congratulations on receiving the Pat Jaquith award in mathematics.
Writing Excellence Award
Given to the student who best exemplifies communicating with purpose, clarity, coherence, and persuasiveness in writing.
Recipient: Brigid Feinstein
Presenter: Susan Austin
Brigid Feinstein writes with confidence and authority, and justly so. She knows how to present a solid argument, bringing in relevant background information and quoting just enough to support her points. Her third essay in my Research and Analysis: Fantastic Tales course synthesized materials not only from that unit but the two that preceded it. Her fourth essay extended her discussion of the trickster motif in fairy tales recorded in the nineteenth century to connect it to the culture of past and present street gangs, a topic she proposed that I might have vetoed if I had not read her previous essays. Her sentence structures are sophisticated and deftly punctuated. She has a strong sense of audience, guiding her readers, leading them efficiently to her complex conclusions.
Creative Writing Award
Given to the student who demonstrates commitment to and talent with creative writing.
Recipient: Ellen Chornoboy and William Drake
Presenter: John Rose
Equally adept at poetry and prose, Bill Drake and Ellen Chornoboy were luminaries in Advanced Creative Writing. Each has a marvelous ear for language and eye for detail and puts into practice William Carlos Williams’ maxim, “no ideas but in things.” Each has been a tireless promotor of campus literary life—for Impressions, Voices, and poetry slams. There would, in fact, be no Voices were it not for Bill and Ellen. As Impressions editors, they ran masterful, creative meetings that doubled as writing workshops.
Liberal Studies Department Awards
With nine disciplines, liberal studies explore humanity from many perspectives. Our courses are about the diversity of human experience and how the past informs contemporary life. Excellence in liberal studies means engaging with new and enduring questions in humanities, literature, and social science.
The Award for Excellence at the Associate Level goes to a student who has excelled in a range of our elective courses. This student shows curiosity about the world and the desire to explore unfamiliar topics.
Recipient: Amanda Kilbride
Presenter: Adrienne Major
It has been my pleasure to have worked with Amanda Kilbride for two semesters this year.
Amanda, I have found, and those who have also worked with you concur, that your analysis and synthesis skills are exemplary. You have an open curiosity about a range of ideas and literatures. You follow up on questions with excellent and original research—and provide thoughtful and insightful analysis both verbally and in writing. Not only that, but you’re an excellent citizen in class—supportive in groups, focused in lecture, and discursive in discussion. It is for these reasons that my colleagues in the Liberal Studies department join me in awarding you with the Award for Excellence at the Associates Level in Liberal Studies.
The Award for Excellence at the Baccalaureate Level goes to a student who has pursued a focused area of interest in the liberal studies. This student is a budding scholar who has the potential for leadership in the field.
Recipient: Steven Vitt
Presenter: Dan Miller
It is my privilege and pleasure to present Steven Vitt with the Liberal Studies award for a student at the baccalaureate level. My colleagues and I can all attest that Steven has, consistently and without exception, demonstrated proficiency that far exceeds the requirements for the degree, not only displaying an aptitude for scholarship, but continually developing and advancing his research and communication skills, culminating in his Capstone project. Steven has also served the Liberal Studies Department and the broader Landmark College community by playing an integral role in the development of the Landmark College Center for Neurodiversity, where he has worked as an intern for three semesters. My only regrets in presenting this award to Steven are that circumstance don’t allow me to do so in person, and that his success will mark the loss of one of our most superlative students. Steven, on behalf of Landmark College and the Department of Liberal Studies, congratulations.
The Maria Forte Art Award
Named for a beloved founding member of Landmark College’s art department, goes to a student who is deeply committed to developing as an artist, and who is willing to take risks and spend considerable time on their art, regardless of the medium. The student consistently produces work of a high caliber that manifests deep engagement and experimentation, and routinely elevates the level of conversation within classes, helping to cultivate a culture of curiosity, dialogue, and inclusivity.
Recipient: Jenny Beller
Presenter: Jen Morris
Your devoted leadership to nurture an inclusive arts culture on campus is matched only by your kindness, good spirit, intelligence, and the thoughtful dialogue you help to encourage in all of your interactions.
Your work as a dedicated and skilled artist has grown during your time at Landmark. We, the Fine and Performing Arts Department, agree: it is never a simple task to make complex work.
We are grateful to have the opportunity to offer you this award. Your commitment to creating ways to connect people through the arts has truly made a lasting impact on our community—we look forward to knowing how you impact the communities of your future.
Recipient: Max Cornell
Presenter: Jen Morris
Your clarity of insight, intelligence, voracious curiosity, commitment to growth, and an ability to take risks are some of the many qualities that mark you clearly as an artist.
Your abilities as a leader are action oriented. You possess a generous and welcoming attitude, your humor cracks up a room at the best moment, you engage every project and idea with the same seriousness and care, and you speak up to defend your thoughts while respectfully honoring those of others.
We, as the Fine and Performing Arts Department, are grateful to have the opportunity to offer you this award. You inspire us with your ability to seek and find small, unnoticed moments that explore both the gravity and levity of the human condition. We know your search will lead you to great things.
The Computer Science Award
This award is given each year to a student who has excelled academically in the program and also shows much potential as a future technology professional.
Recipient: Reece Rountree-Hanscom
Presenter: Karina Assiter
Reece is currently in my junior-senior level software engineering course; I’ve had Reece in courses all three semesters since he first showed up in Data Structures in the Spring of 2019.
Reece always sits in the front row and having him in class is like having a teacher’s assistant; he’ll look things up for me, let me know the time when I’m in the middle of a slide show, tell me where we left off in the lecture from the last class and point out mistakes that I hadn’t noticed on a slide.
Reece is usually far enough ahead in the material that he will find and let me know about problems or confusing concepts in the assignments, lecture’s or class-based activities. Fortunately, he’s very patient with my imperfection.
Reece asks perceptive questions in class, and when answering a question on an assignment he makes a concerted effort to answer thoroughly and correctly (his submissions never give you the impression that he’s rushed through his work just to get it completed). When available, Reece will attempt the extra credit options for an assignment and whenever he completes a project his work becomes the gold-standard, used as an example in subsequent iterations of the course.
On project teams Reece is often a leader and initiator, keeping everything moving forward and everyone on task. His leadership style is to lead by example; putting in the time and effort to complete tasks encourages his teammates to do the same.
Along with being bright and hard-working Reece is also exceptionally emotionally intelligent: he is respectful, sensitive, and empathic. For example, he thanks me for presenting the lectures and, at the end of the semester, thanks me for teaching the class. He always gives me his full attention during lecture, and he will even quiet other students when it’s time for class to start. I have told him more than once that I wish that I could clone him; other students might have the same academic ability, work ethic, and maturity, but very few demonstrate these qualities so consistently.
Of course, Reece has his challenges, otherwise he would not be at Landmark (nor be human, for that matter); periodically he becomes paralyzingly anxious. When he does get that anxious, however, it’s generally a signal to me that I need to extend a deadline or assign less work; Reece tries his best to do what’s expected without complaint so his anxiety is essentially a barometer of the reasonableness of my expectations.
I recruited Reece to be a staff member in computer science support. He excels as an employee, just as he does as a student. He is dependable and conscientious, showing up for every shift on time, communicating issues that he has had with students. I’ve heard that he is patient and helps students come to answers on their own (versus giving out the solutions).
Not only do I appreciate Reece as an amazing student, but I also feel a personal affinity with him; he reminds me of myself as a college student (I had, at the time, undiagnosed ADHD). Essentially, to live up to your own expectations you know you to have to work much harder than your neuro-typical counterparts; it can feel like all you have time for is work. Also, your level of self-esteem, generally low, does not match either the level of your achievements, generally high, nor the respect/regard that is held for you by others (also high).
Notably, Reece was nominated to be the recipient of this years’ award unanimously nominated by all 3 full-time computer science faculty in the STEM department.
The Communication and Leadership Award
This award goes to the student who has taken two or more courses in the areas of Business and Communications and has demonstrated academics excellence and community leadership through initiative, diligence and progress.
Recipient: Lucas Sillars
Presenter: Mac Gander
Lucas Sillars is a natural leader. He possesses a combination of power and compassion that enables him to take the lead in any situation, including running a class meeting with two Vice Presidents and a Dean in attendance, and also to know when to defer to others and make sure that every peer is involved in meaningful ways. Great leaders lead by example, and Luke is one of the hardest-working students I have ever known. He picks up for other students when they need some help, and he always makes sure the work gets done.
In this strange semester marred by the novel coronavirus, Luke had the charge of leading a practicum focused on creating the framework for a student publication directed and managed entirely by students. The interruption in our plans at mid-semester might have caused us to diminish our ambitions, but instead Luke helped to lead a heightening of the class’s efforts, spending hours both in class team meetings and in off-line conversations to make sure the work got done.
One evening a short time ago, he started a meeting with two other students to complete the revision of an operating manual for the new student publication. The meeting started at 6 p.m. It ended at 12:30 a.m., possibly the longest Teams meeting on record. Through the entire process, Luke’s endurance, thoughtfulness, attention to detail, and good humor all kept us going. We got the work done.
Luke gets the work done. He demonstrates the very highest qualities of leadership—not simply the power and strength that leadership requires, but also the kindness and compassion so necessary to assure that leadership and communication are conducted for the social good. It has been a privilege to work with Luke this year, especially during this difficult time, and it is an honor to present him with this award.
The Dianne Wood Award
This award will go to the student who has not only excelled academically in courses offered in professional studies, but who has also gone beyond and applied these skills to transform personally and thereby contributing to the college community as a whole.
Recipient: Amber LaFlamme
Presenter: Jeanette Landin
I want to offer comments from the faculty about Amber’s work.
“Amber has always risen to the occasion and is a real professional in our class and on campus, working with clients, organizing teamwork, and supporting her fellow classmates in their entrepreneurship projects. She is an excellent organizer and has strong presentation skills—and even participated in the Draper Pitch Competition.”
“Amber LaFlamme has been a strong, quiet force in every class in which I have worked with her. She does her work, she shows up, and while she is not always vocal, she is the sort of student who makes every student around her better. In team projects, she has always played the lead. In her work for the Voices initiative in the leadership practicum this semester, she developed a pathway to securing advertising support for the student publication in a way that was so thorough and thoughtful that it will be a template for years to come. Amber is the sort of student that any teacher can count on, to show up, to do her best work, and to be a collegial member of a learning community. If there are unsung heroes at Landmark College, she is one of them.”
In my experience with Amber both as a student and an advisee, she has demonstrated the ability to excel academically, to work with minimal direction, and to advocate for herself and her classmates. In her capstone project, she is working to improve communication skills in the workplace through the future production of an on-demand podcast series. She has transformed into a self-directed and resourceful professional.
Amber exemplifies the spirit of Dianne Wood. Her dedication and determination to always do her best has been noticed.
It is our pleasure to give this award to you, Amber; you earned it. Congratulations!
Natural Science Department Award
For outstanding achievement in the Natural Sciences.
Recipient: Justin O’Brien
Presenter: Kim Coleman
Working in class with Justin feels more like collaborating with a peer than teaching a student. When he asks questions, I think, “Why haven’t I thought of that before?!” It’s a wonderful feeling when a science teacher sees students actually starting to use scientific methodology; it’s an honor to work with a student who applies the methodology deftly. Justin thinks deeply about concepts covered in class and is quick to link various aspects of his background knowledge to the new material. Consequently, Justin is excellent at solving complex case study problems. I look forward to hearing about Justin’s scientific accomplishments in the future; I’m sure there will be many!