The Cardinal Spellman award was established by the university’s first graduation speaker, Francis Cardinal Spellman. It is conferred annually on a senior or seniors who have high academic achievement, aspire to graduate study in an academic or professional field, and exemplify the ideals of the University.
This year we have two Spellman awardees.
Our first awardee came to UD to get it all, double majoring in science and philosophy. But the summer after his sophomore year he participated in a science research program and realized that he loved scientific research, and so reluctantly dropped his philosophy major (though a professor reports that he still takes philosophy classes for fun and profit). Another summer research experience in France also encouraged his love of other cultures, so he will finish with a French concentration. All of that, and he still has had time to be involved with the campus Men’s Club mentoring program, serving as the senior mentor --- the mentor of the mentors --- this past year.
Admitted to five graduate programs --- including Harvard, Georgetown, and Notre Dame --- he has decided to continue his search for truth by pursuing a doctorate in Physical Chemistry at Washington University in St. Louis. Our first Spellman award winner is William Rackers.
Our second awardee is similarly interested in understanding and wisdom across the university: science, mathematics, philosophy. He has used his summers to dive into some aspect of his interests, doing research programs on both coasts: applied math in San Diego, biophysics in Boston. His focus on medical ethics has recently earned him an appointment as an ad hoc reviewer for The Linacre Quarterly, the official journal of the Catholic Medical Association and the oldest continuously published bioethics journal in the United States. He will finish with a Bachelor of Science in Biology, but with two concentrations: Ethics and Applied Mathematics.
His desire to go to medical school led him to take the MCAT, but he took care of that. Scoring in the 100th percentile (I thought 99th was the highest you could go!), and will be attending the Baylor College of Medicine on a full-tuition scholarship.
As if his academic achievements were not already impressive enough, our Spellman awardee also stayed active on campus, serving as the Chief Editor of the UD Journal of Science and as President of the Pre-Health Society, and participating in intramural soccer. He has also shown his passion for helping others through his co-founding of the Friends and Mentors club which works with students one-on-one at a local high school, as well as regularly volunteering at the Gospel of Life, a home for the elderly run by UD Alumna Sister Maria Faulkner.
Our second Spellman awardee is Thomas Pecha.
The Ann Helen Maberry award was established by Mr. and Mrs. Frank Heller, longtime patrons of the university, in memory of their daughter. It is awarded annually to a senior woman distinguished by outstanding character, high academic achievement, proven responsibility, and service to the University.
Our Maberry award winner is also a brilliant scholar in the sciences and arts. Her freshman year started with a bang, where she impressed one of her professors so much that he asked her to work in his lab that Spring: that professor writes “I continue to pat myself on the back for this decision.” That same year, showing her diversity and dynamism, her research paper on Dante’s Divine Comedy was selected as the best research from all those submitted for Lit Trad II, and was awarded the Raymond DiLorenzo. The summer after her Freshman year she participated in a research experience at Clemson University which led to paper being published with her as co-author.
As if her first year wasn’t enough, her exploits continued through her sophomore year: she was secretary of the Writers Guild of St. John’s and moved the guild to their first publication, Eudaimonia. After a successful Rome semester, she was able to participate in the first Rome summer research experience at Tor Vergata. Through her example and hard work, the faculty at Tor Vergata were enthusiastic about the new partnership with the University of Dallas, no doubt patting themselves on the back!
Her Junior and senior years continued her success: one of the editors of the University Scholar, a research experience at UT Southwestern, and by far not the least, national recognition as a Goldwater Scholar, one of only a handful selected from across the nation. She also refined a habit of being a go-to to help professors guide younger students toward successful academic careers, but not as a “grind”. As one professor put it, “I have always appreciated that she also emphasized the need to take time for friends and slow down and enjoy what you are studying, in addition to studying hard.” A good friend she is, as attested to the many student nominations she received for the Maberry award.
She is heading just down the road to UT Southwestern to begin a PhD in Cell and Molecular Biology, so I’m sure there will be plenty of back-patting down there. The Maberry awardee for 2020 is, of course, your valedictorian Ana Henriquez.
The Helen Corbitt Awards for Excellence recognize a senior woman and a senior man who have produced an outstanding body of work during their time at the university. Students nominated for the award demonstrate excellence in academic pursuits, in student activities and in general service. Helen Corbitt was a gifted chef and nutritionist, receiving many awards and accolades during her life, and was a good friend and benefactor to the University of Dallas.
The Corbitt man fully embodies the spirit of the Corbitt award, as a student and as an athlete. His leadership in the classroom is reflected both by the grades he receives --- he’s been on the Dean’s list every semester at UD --- as well as his creativity in the projects he tackles in the classroom. The Corbitt portfolio he submitted for consideration of this award contained an essay on Frederick Douglass written for his American Civilization class, as well as a term paper for his Social Justice course that pondered the question whether college and professional sport impede or promote a college education. It also included code in Python, and a statistical analysis of data that was collected by his athletics coach on his bat swing. Of course, all these academic accomplishments were done in time around the hours he spent on the playing field, on the road during travel season, or in the batting cage working on that swing. His hard work and balance between his academics and his athletics earned him recognition as a member of the US Collegiate Athletic Association National All-Academic Team for 2018 and 2019.
But on top of all of those accomplishments, he also found time to dedicate his time to service: canned food drives, Special Olympics, Catholic Charities, Readers to Leaders, visiting the elderly in a local retirement home --- the list goes on and on. For his leadership there he was awarded the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference Character and Community Award this Spring. But it seems appropriate that we, his home university should also honor him. Thus, we have named Nick Hovde the 2020 Corbitt Man.
The Corbitt woman is well-known around campus: as one professor put it, “she seems to be everywhere, all the time, with the biggest smile, like she’s up to something.” Perhaps she is. But what she is up to always seems to shine brightly to bring the little community on the top of the hill together in special ways. As another professor commented, “[she] is an outstanding integrative force… creating opportunities for students and faculty to come together”. Finally, a third faculty member pointed to her enrichment of the life of the university through creating “three of the most significant events in the life of UD over the past 4 years outside of Groundhog.” Very high praise from an alumnus faculty!
She has also been a force for the expansion of the university’s fame, working in marketing in two different departments. She loves to sell an idea, and showed off that skill in competing at the AT&T National Sales competition her sophomore year.
But her real love, if that was ever in doubt, is the theater. It is through the stage that she reaches, enriches, and brings together the community at UD. WIth over 10 productions that she put on outside of the “regular” drama offering, starring students and many faculty. From Shakespeare at the Brewery, to Earnest in the Rat, to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, on the grave of Carpenter Hall, the productions have been unique, exciting, and just plain fun. Never to let a good crisis go by without trying something new, she put on the Twelfth Night over Zoom, which was one of the things that inspired me to put this Convocation on.
Her service and selflessness, always working behind the scenes to make sure everyone is enjoying him or herself, is also apparent in her work with the Rotaract Club, serving as president this past year, and coordinating all kinds of activities to help others outside of the university.
Her future looks bright, and I bet she’s wearing shades right now. I congratulate Dolores Mihaliak as the 2020 Corbitt Woman.