Graduating seniors earn top awards

May 25, 2010

Two graduating seniors were awarded the College’s top academic honors at McDaniel’s May 22 Commencement ceremony. Melissa Atkinson, with a 4.18 GPA, received the Argonaut Award, given to the senior with the highest grade-point average. Ellen Larson received an Edith Farr Ridington Phi Beta Kappa Writing Award for the most well-written paper.

Melissa is graduating as a College Scholar having completed the Honors Program with a double major in English and Sociology and earning Departmental Honors in both  academic areas. At Honors Convocation held May 2, Melissa received the Makosky Award for Excellence in Writing and was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa. She will begin graduate studies in creative writing and poety this year at West Virginia University.

Her English professor Kathy Mangan says:

“Melissa’s poetry exemplifies a lyrical-but-edgy touch; her short fiction exhibits a nuanced grasp of character and the complexities of human motivation…  Melissa’s academic major in Sociology complements her understanding of human interaction and communication and that this deeper comprehension embeds itself in her poems and stories.”

Melissa graduated from Charles E. Jordan Senior High School and is the daughter of Susan and Doug Atkinson of Durham, N.C.

Ellen, who is graduating magna cum laude is the winner of the Ridington award for her paper titled “"Orienting Recycling Behaviors of College Students: A Study on Convenience, Environmental Attitudes and Self-Regulated Motivation."

Ellen Larson '10 on stage at commencement

She is one of only two Environmental Policy and Science majors to receive departmental honors, an academic program now in its fifth year at McDaniel. Ellen’s research helped formulate recommendations in McDaniel’s Climate Action Plan to reduce the campus’s carbon footprint, and the resulting paper will be submitted for scholarly publication.

Early next week, Ellen will head out for Logan, Utah, where she will begin conservation and restoration field work for AmeriCorps.

EPS professor Scott Hardy who serves as chair of the campus environmental group, says Ellen’s research and writing abilities are admirable and he praises her analysis of existing scholarship to glean best practices for effecting behavioral change.

Ellen is a graduate of Bermudian High School and is the daughter of Vanessa and Robert Larson of East Berlin, Pa.

The Argonaut Award was named for the College’s original honor society founded in 1935 and superseded by formation of a Phi Beta Kappa chapter in 1980.

Established by the College’s Phi Beta Kappa chapter in memory of Edith Farr Ridington, a longtime faculty member, the writing award honors her work as a charter member and historian of the Delta of Maryland Chapter of McDaniel.