news-category: Awards

Gardner-Webb Students Honored for Volunteerism, Service and Leadership

Awards Recognize Contributions in Academics, Athletics, Student Engagement and Christian Life and Service

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C.—Gardner-Webb University students recently received recognition for their volunteerism, service and leadership in campus departments and groups during the 2023-2024 academic year. The awards ceremony was hosted by the Office of Christian Life and Service.

Vice President and University Chaplain for Christian Life and Service Dr. Josh Parrott welcomed students and guests and gave the invocation. GWU President Dr. William M. Downs brought greetings and congratulated the winners.

Through the Dover Library’s honor book program, each award winner has the opportunity to select a book for inclusion in the library. Each book purchased includes a book-plate with the name of the award winner, the year, and award received.

The Department of Natural Sciences

  • The Biology Service Awards were presented by Instructor Stacie Smith to laboratory associates, Marissa DiMatteo, of Greenville, N.C., a 2024 graduate with a degree in biology, and Blake Henkel, of Granite Falls, N.C., a 2024 graduate with a degree in biology. They were recognized for their diligence and excellence of work. DiMatteo is a mentor to underclassmen and is a natural organizer and manager. Henkel is hardworking without complaint and isn’t afraid to take on a difficult task.
  • The Chemistry Service Awards were presented by Jacob Willis to Makayla Jibben, of Anderson, S.C., a 2024 graduate with a degree in biology, and Julian Beltran, of Forest City, N.C., a 2024 graduate with a degree in biology. This award is presented to laboratory associates who demonstrate excellence of work. Jibben’s positive attitude, care for students, and effective communication skills have made her a valuable asset. Beltran helps to create a collaborative environment that is conducive to learning. His hard work and sense of responsibility are evident in each task he undertakes.

The Department of Public Service

  • The Criminal Justice Administration Leadership Award was presented by Chief Tim W. Ledford to Holly Clark, of Broadway, N.C., a 2024 graduate with a degree in criminal justice administration. She was recognized for consistently demonstrating exceptional leadership qualities throughout her time at Gardner-Webb. She has served as president of the Criminal Justice Society, where she has made significant contributions, including organizing the Spring and Fall Connect Fair, assistance with Dawg Days and setting up a student event to discourage students from drinking and driving. In addition to her leadership roles, Clark has maintained an impressive academic record, consistently ranking in the top of her class. She is always willing to lend a hand to peers, take on new challenges, and strive for excellence. Her positive attitude and respect for others have made her a role model in our school community.
Holly Clark, center, received the Criminal Justice Administration Leadership Award; presented by Chief Tim Ledford, right.

The Department of Religious Studies and Philosophy

Anagrace Earwood, center, receives the
Religious Studies Association Service Award.
  • The Religious Studies Association Service Award was presented by Dr. Anna Sieges-Beal to Annagrace Earwood, of Shelby, N.C., a 2024 graduate with a degree in Christian studies. She was recognized for her exemplary leadership, academic excellence, participation in other campus leadership positions, and exemplary Christian character, lifestyle, promise and commitment to the field of Christian ministry.

Division of Student Success

  • The Peer Leader Award was presented by Kara Alves to BryceLynn Glover, of Waco, N.C., a senior psychology major. This award is given annually to a Peer Leader who has demonstrated exemplary leadership to first-year students and models Christ-like service and character. Glover goes the extra mile as she seeks to know each of the students by name and advocate for their specific needs. In her first-year as a Peer Leader, she has ensured each student is known and loved deeply and encourages them to embrace Gardner-Webb.

Student Development

BryceLynn Glover, left, Peer Leader Award
  • The Most School Spirit Award is presented annually by the Dawg Pound to the student who shows the most school spirit at University Athletic Events. Brian Arnold presented the award to Jake Sosebee, of York, S.C., a junior exercise science major.
  • The Outstanding Student Leadership Awards were presented by Micah Martin to Paul McElearney, of New Bern, N.C., a senior political science and international affairs major, and Sydney Hudson, of Maiden, N.C., a senior political science and affairs major. They were honored by the Center for Personal and Professional Development for their efforts in leading others in serving the campus and community well. These students have demonstrated strategic leadership with humility and a single-minded determination to make the Gardner-Webb experience even better for every student. Both of these students have exhibited outstanding student leadership in a variety of projects and clubs on our campus including SGA and Honors Student Association with a vision for always making the student experience even better.
  • The Residential Service and Leadership Awards were presented by Shelbilyn Boelsche to Crystal Aldridge, of Gastonia, N.C., a senior mathematics major, and Wyatt Harrison, of Camden, N.C., a senior communication studies major. Aldridge made a goal to get to know her residents and be a good leader for them. This award is proof that she achieved that goal. She is dependable, kind, respected among her peers, creative, ambitious, and a true leader who embodies the life of service and excellence that this award highlights. Harrison has shown relentless energy for the job since his first day on staff and has put all of his energy into building relationships with his residents, peers, and supervisor. He displays a desire to improve and grow within this role.
Outstanding Student Leadership Awards were presented to Sydney Hudson, left, and Paul McElearney, right.

Athletic Service Awards

Victoria Fischetti, left, received the
Student-Athlete Advisory Committee
Outstanding Member Award.
  • The Pam Scruggs Student-Athlete Advisory Committee Leadership Award was presented by Scruggs to Sam Ritner, of High Point, N.C., a 2024 graduate with a master’s in strength and conditioning. This award is given in honor of Scruggs, who has set an unparalleled example of dedication, service and leadership for her co-workers, students, and student-athletes. Ritner has been a vital part of SAAC and GWU athletics. He is a member of the SAAC leadership team and has served as president. He has also served on the Big South President council. His leadership this year has helped SAAC grow and be a vital part of the student-athlete experience.
  • The Student-Athlete Advisory Committee Outstanding Member was presented by Carrie Baker to Victoria Fischetti, of Massapequa, N.Y., a sport management major, who has been a part of SAAC for the past 4 years. Fischetti is creative and enthusiastic, supports others and has been an asset on the SAAC Leadership Team.

Christian Life and Service and Other Awards

  • The Student Recruitment Ambassadors Scholarship Award was presented by Kaley Geer Crump to Sydney Hudson, of Maiden, N.C., a senior political science and affairs major.She is always ready and willing to volunteer and do anything she is asked to do. She is a true team player. She shows her love of the Lord in every aspect of her life, but especially when she is leading tours for prospective students. She is a natural leader and helps new student hires learn the ropes of the job and how to handle tough situations with grace.
  • The Dover Memorial Library Service Award was presented by Dean of the Library and University Archivist Natalie Bishop to Grace Fort, of Monroe, Ga., a junior nursing major. For two years, Fort has devoted her time and effort into helping make the circulation desk a proficient and fun place to work.
  • The Community Engagement Award was presented by Robbie Gaines to Victoria Fischetti, of Massapequa, N.Y., a sport management major. This award is presented to a student in the traditional undergraduate program who has gone the extra mile in their commitment to being aware of the meeting specific needs in the community. As a member of the lacrosse team and Vice President of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, Fischetti has led the way in service of others. Mainly, she was instrumental in mobilizing her peers to serve at events like Octoberfest and the Special Olympics in Cleveland County.
  • The Christian Athletic Character Award was presented by Gaines to AJ Hogan, of Graham, N.C., a senior business management major. As a member of the Men’s Soccer team, Hogan has made a lasting impact by leading Bible studies through CMU and encouraging students to follow Jesus. His leadership in facilitating spiritual growth, active involvement with the local church, and consistently exemplifying Christ-like character has resonated profoundly with teammates and fellow students alike.
Winners and presenters of the Pamela Darnell Christian Mission Award and the Charles and Sybil Shelton Outstanding Christian Service Award are, from left, Betty Darnell, Sarah Bracken, Michelle Lominac, Natalie Coffing, Trevor Wester, Anna Sample, Ed Darnell and Neal Payne.
  • The Pamela Darnell Christian Mission Award was presented by Neal Payne to Michelle Lominac, of Conover, N.C., a 2024 graduate with a degree Political Science, Natalie Coffing, of Oxford, N.C., a 2024 graduate with a degree in criminal justice administrationand Sarah Bracken, of Mocksville, N.C., a senior art major. This award is presented in memory of Pamela Darnell. From the moment Darnell first set foot on the GWU campus as a student in the fall of 2001, her smile became one of the most recognized on campus. She was actively involved in student ministries as a small group leader, mission trip participant, and participant in the Women’s Ministry. She died in June 2005 after courageously battling both Crohn’s disease and Lymphoma while still attending Gardner-Webb. The Pamela Darnell Christian Mission Award is given to the graduating senior who has most exemplified a passionate devotion to the global mission of God on our campus. Her parents Ed and Betty Darnell attended the awards presentation.
    • Lominac has given so much of her time as a leader on campus through starting the hospitality ministry, leading Campus Ministries as the coordinator, and serving on mission teams.
    • Bracken has served faithfully as publicity coordinator for Campus Ministries and started a newsletter called The Good News in which students wrote devotions and shared testimonies. She is also a gifted artist and has designed several graphics used on shirts and stickers within Campus Ministries.
    • Coffing began as the production coordinator for Campus Ministries United before stepping in to oversee the Gathering, the largest weekly ministry event on campus that is student led. Through scheduling speakers and topics, Coffing has helped the Gathering to grow and to keep its focus on pointing students to Jesus.
  • Payne also presented the Charles and Sybil Shelton Outstanding Christian Service Award to Trevor Wester, of Canton, N.C., a 2024 graduate with a degree in Christian studies, and Anna Sample, of Hayward, Calif., a 2024 graduate with a degree in psychology. This award is presented in memory of Charles Shelton and in honor of his wife, Sybil. Following his retirement from BellSouth, Charles followed the call of God upon his life and became a leader in volunteer mission service. His life and witness impacted many GWU students as they traveled with him on various North American and international mission trips. The Charles and Sybil Shelton Outstanding Christian Service Award is presented to both a male and female senior who have provided outstanding servant leadership through opportunities offered by the Office of Christian Life and Service.
    • Wester and Sample took on the calling this past year to help reestablish the FOCUS ministry at Gardner-Webb. FOCUS creates, plans, and coordinates opportunities for our students to lead weekend retreats for youth groups and events in local churches. They planned several trips, served at conferences, trained students in practical ministry, volunteered in a number of service and mission projects, and most importantly, glorified Christ in all they did.

View more photos here.

Gardner-Webb University is North Carolina’s recognized leader in private, Christian higher education. A Carnegie-Classified Doctoral/Professional University, GWU is home to nine colleges and schools, more than 80 undergraduate and graduate majors, and a world-class faculty. Located on a beautiful 225-acre campus in Boiling Springs, N.C., Gardner-Webb prepares graduates to impact their chosen professions, equips them with the skills to advance the frontiers of knowledge, and inspires them to make a positive and lasting difference in the lives of others. Ignite your future at

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