On Monday, February 11, 2008, members of the Mount Holyoke community gathered in Blanchard's Great Room for the College's annual tribute to student excellence. MHC Awards Day brought faculty, staff, administrators, students, alumnae, and guests together to honor the winners of Mount Holyoke's leadership and community service awards, its newly elected members of Phi Beta Kappa, and the recipients of the Alumnae Association's Mary Lyon Award for distinguished young alumnae.
In her opening remarks, President Joanne V. Creighton noted that the each honoree "has challenged herself to a high level of commitment and responsibility. You have forged links to others within and outside of the College that have enriched your own education as well as the world around you. We know you will go from here into the world to accomplish great things. And in that, you will be following in a long line of impressive women before you, and you will lead the way for those who come after you."
During the afternoon, the academic accomplishments of students whose interests range from Charles Dickens to Turkish ceramics to the projectile tongues of chameleons were saluted. Six students were recognized with the Sarah Williston Prize for attaining a 4.0 grade point average in their first four semesters: Emily Harcourt, Zoe Gibbons, Yunnan Jiang, Sanam Nader-Esfahani, Kathleen Mroz-Barrett, Chelsea McCracken, and Yana Stainova. Five members of the class of 2008 were elected to Phi Beta Kappa: Mallory Cohn, Lindsay Goodale, Sundus Hussain, Elizabeth Petcu, and Kathryn Plass. Eighty-four Sarah Williston Scholars were commended for academic excellence.
Students were also honored for outstanding contributions to the campus and the larger community. Creighton announced that the College's Community Service Award had been renamed in honor of Kelly Sottile '08, a student dedicated to community service who died earlier this year. The Kelly Sottile Community Service Award was given to Sottile, in memoriam, and Lisa Spencer '08. Sottile's mother received the award on her daughter's behalf. Several other members of the Sottile family and personal friends were also present.
Kylie McCormick '08, recipient of the Maurice L. Rabbino Award, was recognized for her involvement in theatre and performance art. The Weissman Center Leadership Award for Excellence was given to Yedalis Ruiz FP '08 for her inspirational work in the Community-Based Learning Program. Other honors and awards included Recognition of Student Leaders, the Helen Warren Smith Award, the Frances Harriet Williams Award, and the Karen Snyder Sullivan Memorial Travel Award.
The ceremony concluded with the presentation of the Mary Lyon Award by Rochelle Calhoun '83, executive director of the Alumnae Association. This year's recipients were Ashfia Huq '96, a physicist, and Susan Baker Manning '93, a lawyer who has undertaken many pro bono causes, including representation of Guantanamo Bay inmates. Both recipients acknowledged Mount Holyoke's crucial role in launching their professional careers.
Gladys Moore, dean of religious and spiritual life and director of diversity and inclusion, offered closing remarks and, with her guitar, led the audience in a round of "This Little Light of Mine." After offering final congratulations, Creighton invited all in attendance to join her at a reception for the honorees.