Drew Celebrates Excellence

92 students earn awards from the College of Liberal Arts.

May 2019 – In an annual tradition that illustrates the bonds between Drew University students and faculty, two dozen professors bestowed honors to scores of undergraduates at the College of Liberal Arts Awards.

As most honorees are seniors, the event marks the unofficial kickoff to graduation season, which includes defending theses, taking final exams, eating breakfast at midnight and finally, bounding the stage at commencement.

In her welcome, Provost and CLA Dean Debra Liebowitz thanked parents, faculty and staff for supporting the scholars and encouraged them to be proud of what they did themselves.

“To be accomplished you have to take risks. As successful students, you were willing to push yourselves to achieve your goals,” Liebowitz said. “It’s incredibly important to do the difficult work even if it means you might fail. In many respects, risking that failure and being accomplished are related. My hope is that your time at Drew has helped you cultivate what it takes to be extraordinary. Your presence here today indicates to me that you have successfully managed that challenge.”

Here’s the full list of awards and recipients.


Art Department Prizes for Excellence in Art – First: Kaylee Garcia-Quirarte, Second: Karel Raska, Third: Eli Davis, Honorable Mention: Maria Jose Navas Espinal 

Three annual awards for distinguished work in art selected by the Art Department.

Stanley Prescott Hooper Memorial Prize – Art: Shayna Miller, Art History: Emma Crist, Inji Kim

Endowed in 1989 by the estate of Stanley Hooper C’85, family and friends. Awarded to graduating seniors with promise and integrity in art.

Baldwin Honors

Winifred B. Baldwin Fellowship – Ansel Bloom, Uma Kantheti, David Van Dongen, Brooke Winters 

Endowed by Inez Nelbach in memory of Winifred B. Baldwin, wife of former trustee Donald Baldwin. Awarded to one or more Baldwin Honors Scholars with excellent academic records at Drew who show great promise of continued distinction in graduate or professional school.

Dean Paolo Cucchi Student Research Fund – Bongiwe Bongwe, Vincent Costa, Kassel Franco Garibay, Maimouna Kante, Joshua Ryan

Endowed in 2012 by friends and colleagues of Dean Paolo Cucchi in honor of his long career at Drew and to sustain his legacy of supporting student research, international experiences and academic excellence during his 24 years as dean of the college.

Slipper-McClintock Prize – Kyra Cipolla, Shayna Miller

Endowed in 1977 by family, friends, and colleagues to honor two of the original architects of the Trustee/Drew Scholar program, James A. McClintock T’30 and Louise Slipper. Awarded annually to the graduating senior who has made outstanding contributions to academic and campus life.


Anna-Lisa Barofsky Prize in Biology – Malek Elsayyid

Endowed by family and friends in memory of Anna-Lisa Barofsky C’62. Awarded to a junior or senior majoring in biology or psychobiology who presented the best research paper at a scholarly biology conference.

Peter R. Jennings Prize – Zarina Akbary 

Endowed by Dr. and Mrs. Robert Zuck to honor a former student, Peter R. Jennings C’53. Awarded for high promise in botany, particularly for work in plant improvement.

Awards in the Sciences  Biochemistry: David Van Dongen, Biology: Uma Kantheti 

Given to Drew’s most promising seniors graduating with degrees in biochemistry and biology. The students chosen to receive these awards are those who not only display exceptional talent in the classroom and research lab, but also demonstrate exceptional promise as future scientists, researchers, doctors, health care professionals and educators.

Awards in the Sciences  Neuroscience: Alexarae Rizzo

Given to Drew’s most promising seniors graduating with degrees in neuroscience and biology. The students chosen to receive these awards are those who not only display exceptional talent in the classroom and research lab, but also demonstrate exceptional promise as future scientists, researchers, doctors, health care professionals and educators.

Center for Global Education

Grace Weggeland Prize – Caleb Dean 

Established in 2002 by Robert Layne Weggeland C’61, P’84, Monique Weggeland Flynn C’84, and family and friends, in memory of Dr. Grace K. Weggeland C’58, G’67, P’84. Awarded to a student, active in campus life, who will have achieved at least junior standing by the beginning of the next academic year and has arranged to participate in an off-campus program in that year.

Irene Weyer Memorial Prize – Michael Galioto 

Endowed in 2002 by Donald and Arlene Roden P’92 and Frederick S. Roden C’92 in memory of Irene Weyer. To be awarded to a student of promise enrolled in the teacher certification program who is pursuing travel related to her/his degree.

Center on Religion, Culture & Conflict

Edward D. Zinbarg Prize – Stefanie DeFronzo 

Established in 1999 by Barbara Zinbarg to honor her husband upon the completion of his doctor of letters degree at Drew. Awarded annually to a student in any of the university’s schools who has creatively linked Jewish studies and the study of other religious traditions.


American Institute of Chemists Award  Chemistry: Sarah Costa, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology: Zarina Akbary

Sponsored by the American Institute of Chemists. Awarded annually to outstanding senior chemistry majors.

James Lyman McFadden Award – Hunter Muratore

Endowed in 1982 by Ms. Dorothy Bruegger in honor of her husband, James Lyman McFadden, founder and president of Gow-Mac Instrument Company in Madison. Awarded for outstanding work in chemistry.

Awards in the Sciences – Chemistry: Domenico DiSalvo

Given to Drew’s most promising seniors graduating with degrees in chemistry. The students chosen to receive these awards are those who not only display exceptional talent in the classroom and research lab, but also demonstrate exceptional promise as future scientists, researchers, doctors, health care professionals and educators.


LGBTQ Student Activist Prize – Sam Hecker

Established in 2011 to honor a sophomore or junior student who has shown exceptional service to the LGBTQ community at Drew. Such an award will help give back to those who have made a commitment to LGBTQ diversity on campus.

Thomas D. Sayles Jr. Student Award for Outstanding Service to Community – Sara Andersen, Virginia Leach

Awarded annually to a third-year undergraduate student who, like the award’s namesake, has demonstrated an exceptional commitment and unselfish dedication to the Drew family and the larger community through  exemplary volunteer service.

Computer Science

Steve A. Lemanski Prize – Matthew Gronert

Endowed in 2006 by Steve A. Lemanski C’89. Awarded to students excelling in applied mathematics, with preference given to students intending to pursue a career related to the field of actuarial science.

Awards in the Sciences – Computer Science: David Rosenblum, Mathematics: Peiyu Guo 

Given to Drew’s most promising seniors graduating with degrees in computer science and mathematics. The students chosen to receive these awards are those who not only display exceptional talent in the classroom and research lab, but also demonstrate exceptional promise as future scientists, researchers, doctors, health care professionals and educators.

Dean’s Office

Jane Brown and Albert Norton Wettstein Prize – Laila Hanandeh

Endowed in 2004 by J. Edward Jarvis in memory of Albert Norton Wettstein C’58 and in honor of Mr. Wettstein’s friend, Jane Brown C’62. Awarded to the graduating senior with the highest grade point average who has completed the requirements for a double major.

Class of 1985 Senior Gift Award – Cristina Martinez

Endowed by the Senior Gift Fund of the Class of 1985. Awarded to college students with strong academic promise and a strong vision for a more just community.

Class of 1983 Senior Gift Award – Kassel Franco Garibay, Vincent Costa

Endowed by the Senior Gift Fund of the Class of 1983. Awarded to one or more outstanding juniors with proven dedication to the improvement of student life.

Hardin Prize – Sabrina Chmelir, Salma Mahmoud, Leanza Rodriguez 

Endowed by Winifred Baldwin and Inez Nelbach in honor of Paul Hardin, former president of the university. Awarded to one or more graduating seniors whose active and productive participation in the academic and community life of the college best exemplifies the ideals and accomplishments of former President Hardin.

Allen Ware Rodes Memorial Prize – Stephen Horiuchi

Endowed in 1986 by Dr. and Mrs. Robert Rodes in memory of their son, Allen. Dr. Rodes is a professor emeritus of political science at Drew. Given annually to the graduating senior who has demonstrated the most significant academic improvement during his or her college career.


H. Jerome Cranmer Prize in Economic History – Julien Hryshko

Established in memory of H. Jerome Cranmer C’47, former professor of economics. Awarded to the highest-performing student in the history of economic thought or economic history.

Economics and Business Department Service Prize – Oscar Lee

Awarded to the graduating senior who, in addition to displaying academic excellence, has made significant service contributions to the department and Drew University.

Economics Department Prize – Laila Hanandeh

Awarded to the graduating senior who has demonstrated the best overall performance in the economics major.


Academy of American Poets Prize – Perry Asibey-Bonsu

Endowed in 2006 by Susan Barba. Recognizes an outstanding poetry collection by the winner of an open competition.

John G. Berg Jr. Memorial Prize – Haley Watson, Lindsey Heale

Endowed in 1985 by Mr. Robert Callander as a gift to his wife, honoring her father, John Berg Jr. Awarded annually for excellence in English to an outstanding English major.

Burke Prize in Language and Literature – Kyra Cipolla

Endowed by Inez Nelbach in 1990 in honor of James B. Burke, trustee emeritus of the university. Awarded annually to a graduating senior who has majored with distinction in language or literature and who has also demonstrated a high level of competence in classical studies.

Robert Chapman Poetry Prize – Mikaela Simon 

The Chapman Prize celebrates the rich legacy of Robert Chapman, a distinguished teacher, linguist, lexicographer, medievalist and poet who taught at Drew from 1966 to 1986, by honoring extraordinary undergraduate achievement and promise in the poetry of a rising Drew senior.

Christopher Goin Memorial Prize in Writing – Heather DuPont, Sarah Tully 

Endowed in 1989 by New Jersey Bell colleagues and family in memory of Chris Goin C’78. Awarded to one or more seniors winning a manuscript contest sponsored by the English Department. The manuscript must merit distinction for its substance, style and imagination.

Ralph R. and Ruth K. Johnson Shakespeare Prize – HwaJung Kim

Endowed in 1998 by the family, friends, colleagues, and former students of this beloved professor emeritus of speech and dramatics and his wife. This award celebrates their lifelong veneration of Shakespeare’s work and is awarded annually to an undergraduate or graduate student demonstrating appreciation for and outstanding achievement in the study of Shakespeare’s plays.

Bessie Stak Schiffman Award for Excellence in Women’s Studies – Aurie Flores

Granted to a senior who has demonstrated outstanding achievement in academic work in women’s studies as well as in campus or community activism. This award honors Bessie Stak Schiffman, grandmother of Drew Professor Ann Saltzman, 1994 recipient of the President’s Award for Distinguished Teaching. Saltzman, along with family and friends, established the award to recognize Schiffman’s dedication to her community. As a young woman, Schiffman learned Hebrew and became the prayer reader for the women of her synagogue, enabling them to participate in activities otherwise restricted to men.

Shilpa Raval Prize in Women’s Studies and Humanities – Hailey Benson 

Established by her family and friends in memory of Shilpa Raval C’91 (1969–2004), the prize is awarded annually to a junior or senior whose interdisciplinary work, like Shilpa’s lively and innovative scholarship on gender and sexuality in the ancient world, connects women’s studies with study in an area of humanities, languages or literature.

Shilpa Raval Memorial Prize in Classics – Andrew D’Amato 

Established by her family and friends in loving memory of Shilpa Raval C’91, PhD 1998 from Brown, assistant professor of classics at Yale University and a brilliant scholar (1969– 2004). Awarded annually to a student who has pursued classical studies with distinction, enthusiasm and scholarly promise.


Leavell-Oberg Fellowship in History – Andrew D’Amato, Emma Gillespie, Jake Levine 

Established in 2007 by alumni, friends and colleagues of J. Perry Leavell, William Kenan Professor of History and Chair of the History Department, in honor of his four decades of service to Drew and its students as well as the mutual commitment of Dr. Leavell and Dr. Barbara B. Olberg to the field of history. The fund supports up to three research fellowships or academic internships for history majors, usually during the summer after their third year of study.

Leavell-Olberg Prize in History – Jake Levine

Established in 1998 by Professor J. Perry Leavell, who taught at Drew for more than 40 years, and his wife, Professor Barbara B. Oberg, who has taught at Yale and at Princeton universities, in recognition of their mutual love of history, with support from family, friends and former students. Awarded to a graduating senior for outstanding achievement in history.

Jewish Studies

Walter F. and Alice Gorham Foundation, Inc. Prize in Jewish Studies – Shayna Miller

Awarded to graduating seniors who, in the course of their years at Drew, have best exemplified the Jewish values of integrating excellence in Jewish study with exemplary service to campus and community.

Irene and Simon Raicer Prize for SHOAH Education – Kelly Duddy

Established in 1995 by Howard and Abbie Raicer Halperin, Jerome and Hildred Raicer Nozick G’94 and Barry and Naomi Raicer Schimmer in honor of their parents. For a graduating senior who has achieved excellence in Holocaust education.


Annual Award in Music  Research: Jaclyn Moldawsky, Vocal Performance: Ashlie Sicilia, Instrumental Performance: Peter Bacas, Caitlin Shannon, Music Composition: Dorian Wu

Established by the Music Department. Awarded to outstanding seniors who have made a significant contribution to music at Drew.


Arnold S. Boxer Memorial Prize in Physics – Jesse Murray

Endowed by colleagues and friends in memory of Arnold S. Boxer, former part-time Drew professor. Awarded for dedication, diligence and distinction in the study of physics.

Robert Fenstermacher Summer Research Fellowship – Matheus Macena de Carvalho, Gabriel Mohideen

Endowed in 2011 by family, friends, students and colleagues of Robert L. Fenstermacher C’63 in honor of his long career of teaching, his continued interest in his students and his dedication to the entire Drew community. The fellowship provides annual funding to support summer research by physics students or students in a related field.

Marshall C. Harrington Prize in Physics and Astronomy – Matthew Gronert

Endowed in 1990 by friends and former students to honor Drew’s first professor of physics, Marshall C. Harrington. Awarded to a junior or senior for completion of an outstanding independent study or research project in physics or astronomy.

Awards in the Sciences  Physics: Luis Muncharaz Duran 

Given to Drew’s most promising senior graduating with a degree in physics. The student chosen to receive this award not only displays exceptional talent in the classroom and research lab, but also demonstrates exceptional promise as a future scientist, researcher, doctor, health care professional and educator.

John F. Ollom Prize in Physics – Gabriel Mohideen, Vedika Poddar

Established by friends, family and colleagues in 1989 to recognize Ollom’s retirement from the Physics Department. Awarded to a prospective physics major for promising performance in physics courses to date.

Political Science

Ewing Award for Leadership and Public Service and Ewing Distinguished Political Science Major Award – Leadership and Public Service: Olivia Sznaza, Performance and Comprehension: Brooke Winters, Laila Hanandeh 

One award is given to a graduating political science major who has demonstrated exceptional leadership skills and a deep commitment to community engagement and public service. Another award goes to graduating political science majors who have demonstrated both exemplary performance in their coursework in the department and exceptional comprehension of the discipline. Created with the support of Drew’s John H. Ewing Center for Public Affairs, a nonpartisan organization designed to enhance students’ appreciation of public service and their understanding of public affairs. The center is named for former New Jersey State Senator John H. Ewing, who throughout his distinguished career made education his highest priority.

James J. Higgins Memorial Prize – Harold Cohen

Established in 2006 by family, friends and colleagues to honor James. J. Higgins Esq., former counsel to Drew University. Awarded to a senior who will be attending an accredited law school following graduation from Drew and who has demonstrated academic merit in his or her major field of study.

Robert Fisher Oxnam Prize  Shaylyn MacKinnon

Endowed by Dean Inez Nelbach and Louise Slipper in memory of Robert F. Oxnam, former president of the university. Awarded annually to graduating seniors majoring in political science who have shown both outstanding ability in that field and a thorough competence in at least one foreign language.

Janet T. Siler Memorial Prize – Kassel Franco Garibay, Priya Dutt

Endowed in 1993 by friends, in memory of Janet T. Siler G’89. Awarded for excellence in the research and writing of a paper on the United Nations Semester and for overall academic accomplishment to a student whose character exemplifies the international spirit of the United Nations.


James A. McClintock Award for Excellence in Psychology  Science of Psychology: Ansel Bloom, Principles and Ideals of Psychology: Alexander Pearce

Endowed by friends and colleagues in honor of James A. McClintock T’30, dean emeritus of the college and professor emeritus of psychology. Awarded to graduating seniors, one for academic excellence in psychology and potential contribution to the science of psychology and the second for excellence in exemplifying and promoting the principles and ideals of psychology.

Psi Chi Community Service Award – Laurena Brittain 

In recognition of academic excellence in psychology and outstanding contribution to the science of psychology

Psi Chi Research Award – Priya Dutt

In recognition of academic excellence in psychology and outstanding contribution to the science of psychology

Tracey J. Shors Neuroscience Prize – John Rinald

Endowed in 1999 by John F. Brinster C’43 and Doris A. Brinster. Awarded to an outstanding Drew student for collaborative, multidisciplinary research in the neurosciences.

Research Institute for Scientists Emeriti

Dr. George deStevens Award for RISE Research – Janaya Reeves 

Established by Mrs. Ruby deStevens in loving memory of her late husband, a leading research chemist and the founder and first director of the Charles A. Dana Research Institute for Scientists Emeriti (RISE). This award annually provides generous support to students engaged in cutting-edge research projects under the tutelage of RISE fellows.

Sidney Udenfriend Prize – Emilio Peñate 

Established in 2000 by family and friends in memory of Sidney Udenfriend, second director of the Charles A. Dana Research Institute for Scientists Emeriti (RISE). Awarded annually to one or more students majoring in science who demonstrate exceptional promise for fundamental or applied research.


Class of 1988 Senior Gift Endowed Prize – Abigail Young

Endowed by the Senior Gift Fund of the Class of 1988. Awarded to a senior in the sociology department who has done significant work in one of the area studies programs.

James O’Kane Award – Laurena Brittain, Leslie Ioffredo 

Established in 2005 to honor Professor of Sociology James M. O’Kane’s long and devoted service to Drew University. Awarded to a sociology major of good character who has done outstanding work in the discipline.

Elbridge and Edna Smith Prize Sociology: Anna Walker, French: Virginia Leach 

Endowed in 2008 by Elbridge M. Smith C’35 and Edna W. Smith. Awarded to students of outstanding achievement, majoring or intending to major in sociology or French, who have not yet begun their senior year.

Theatre Arts

Chauncey Lester and Elsie Stewart Benedict Memorial Prize – Hannah Ponturo, Alison O’Brien

Established by Stewart H. Benedict C’44. Awarded annually for the best play, script or drama written by an undergraduate student of the College of Liberal Arts at Drew.

Norman Guy Prize in Speech  First: Laila Hanandeh, Second: Manny Lopez, Third: Graham Munro-Ludders

Endowed by Ralph Porzio C’38, trustee emeritus of the university, in memory of the college’s first professor of public speaking, Norman Guy. Awarded for distinction in public speaking.

Robert Fisher Oxnam Ensemble Studion Theatre Award in Playwriting – Andrew Dugan, Mikaela Simon

Endowed in 1992 by Mr. and Mrs. Harry Jaecker, in honor of Mrs. Jaecker’s late husband, Robert Fisher Oxnam, former President of the University. Awarded for excellence in playwriting.

President’s Award in Theatre Arts – Jenna Gregson 

Established in 1992 by the Theatre Arts Department, and endowed in 2005 by Drew President Thomas H. Kean. Awarded to a graduating senior who has made outstanding contributions to the theatre arts at Drew in a variety of disciplines.

Rumi Prize in Choreography – Mary Ferguson 

Established in 2000 by a friend of Drew dance and theatre arts. Awarded annually to a student for excellence in choreography.

Albert Norton Wettstein Memorial Prize – Ashley Backe, Nicolette Boillotat

Endowed in 1999 by friends, family and classmates in memory of this member of the College Class of 1958 and the Theological School Class of 1961. Awarded annually to an actor and an actress for outstanding achievement in a Drew theatrical production

Transfer & Continuing Education

Pinnacle Honor Society Award – Lori Birchler, Leslie Ioffredo 

The Pinnacle Honor Society recognizes the achievements of graduating adult and nontraditional students. The criteria for membership includes a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or higher, involvement in campus and community service, demonstrated leadership, persistence, high ethical standards and future promise.

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