GW Honors Excellence in Student Life

The Center for Student Engagement hosted a reception for students, faculty and staff who contribute to life on campus and in the surrounding D.C. community.

April 25, 2019

2019 Excellence in Student Life ceremony

From left: Award winners Jinyi Luo, Sophia McDaniel and Kiana Lee (far right). Also pictured is Man Li, a GW graduate student. (Photo: B.L. Wilson/GW Today)

By B.L. Wilson

Against the backdrop of the sweeping southwest skyline and monumental landmarks of the nation’s capitol, George Washington University students, faculty, staff and friends came together for a reception in the Elliott School of International Affairs’ City View Room to recognize more than 20 honorees at The Excellence in Student Life Awards. 

The award ceremony, one of the university’s longest standing traditions, celebrates and honors individuals who have worked tirelessly to enhance student life and contribute to the surrounding community.

Victoria Heithaus, the Center for Student Engagement’s program coordinator, opened the ceremony by introducing keynote speakers, both former winners of the Excellence Award: Lindsay Goodman, B.A. ’17 and M.P.H. ’18, and Mollie Bowman, B.A.  ’16 and M.A. ’17.

Ms. Bowman and Ms. Goodman met as members of Alpha Delta Pi, served as officers of the GW Panhellenic Association and on numerous campus organizations throughout their time at GW, with Ms. Bowman leading the way as Ms. Goodman’s big sister and mentor.

“As a freshman, aside from attending classes, eating popcorn in Pelham Commons and watching a lot of ‘Law and Order,’ any idea of true leadership was a moonshot,” said Ms. Bowman, until she found a “champion” in a sorority sister who inspired her to do better.

Ms. Goodman reinforced those remarks. She said that “discovering your potential” is not just about joining a sorority, but  also about “finding your person… an adviser, professor, student organization leader or best friend who helps you climb to the next level.”

“Wherever you are in life, the same principle applies: you rise by lifting others, and you go farther together,” she said.

Michael Tapscott, the director of the Multicultural Student Services Center, acknowledged the presence of outgoing Provost Forrest Maltzman, naming him as an honorary recipient of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Award. He thanked Dr. Maltzman for his “exceptional service” and “spending his birthday at a student town hall and giving up his seat to students to sit on the floor at MSSC meetings.

“I’m proud to work with him,” Mr. Tapscott said.

A recipient of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Award, Ojani-Pierre Walthrust, a junior in the Elliott School, said he has tried “to embody the principles of Dr. King” in his role as executive vice president of the Student Association by supporting multicultural organizations on campus and “by helping where help is needed” on community projects of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., to which Dr. King also belonged.

Sitting across from Mr. Walthrust, sophomore Skye Blanks, winner of the Class of 2009 University Pride Award, said he is really “big on service” at GW and in the District of Columbia community, “mentoring new undergraduates and helping first generation college students learn the ropes.”

At another table, sat, Jinyi Luo, a second-year graduate student and an associate analyst in the Gelman Library doing data analysis, conducting workshops and filing reports on the Library Academic Information Center throughout the year. Five members of the library staff nominated her for the Graduate Student Employee of the Year Award.

Sharing desserts with Ms. Luo was Kiana Lee, a sophomore and one of the winners of the Undergraduate Student Leadership Development Award. She will receive a Joint Committee of Faculty and Student Scholarship. She said she has taken on leadership roles throughout life and serves on campus as a program assistant in the GW Jump Start program, tutoring students and advocating for girls.

“This adds to the experience of being at GW, and it’s nice to get some recognition,” Ms. Lee said.

Here is a list of honorees:

Baer Awards for Individual Excellence

Samsara Counts

Isabella Gianani

Ashley Le

Crystel Sylvester

Graduate Award for Individual Excellence

Ty Miranda

Outstanding Service Award

Physical Therapy Student Association

Noah Wexler

Honey Nashman Award Spark a Life Award for Faculty Member of the Year

Gary D. White

The Joint Committee of Faculty and Students’ Scholarship for Student Leadership Development

Gabrielle Battino

Andre Gonzales

Jonathan Kandell

Kiana Lee

Abigail Sepich

McKenzie Swain

The Manatt-Trachtenberg Prize

Sydney Nelson

Learning Through Action Award

The Petey Greene Program

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Award

Carolina Fuentes (Overall)

Andre Gonzales (Scholarship)

Renee Angela Pineda (Leadership)

Ojani-Pierre Ruphin Walthrust (Service)

The Excellence in Diversity Award

International Student Association

InterVarsity Christian Fellowship

Class of 2009 University Pride Award

Skye Blanks

Class of 2005 9/11 Memorial Scholarship

Danielle Martin

Student-Alumni Program Award

GW College Democrats

Mark Zambetti Award

Matthew Creonte

Student Employee of the Year Awards

Quinn O’Brien, Undergraduate

Jinyi Luo, Graduate

Career Services Collaboration Award

Alpha Phi Omega



The Hatchet

Resident Advisor of the Year

Simone Cowan

Mount Vernon Award

Tyler Kusma

Robert A. Chernak Spark a Life Award for Staff Member of the Year

Charlotte McLoud

Greek Chapters of the Year

Delta Sigma Phi

Sigma Lambda Epsilon Sorority, Inc.

Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.

Alpha Delta Pi

Staff Adviser of the Year

Adam Murphy

Student Organization Officer of the Year

Brooke Claroni

Pyramid Award for Student Organization of the Year


GW Pakistani Students Association

The Philippine Cultural Society

GW Wall of Fame

Dorinne Banks

Peak Sen Chua

Ty Miranda

Frederic Ryle

Sara Prifti