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Top graduate and undergraduate awards presented at Commencement

Ashlynn Parker
May 25, 2013

Four top awards were revealed at McDaniel’s May 25 Commencement ceremony.

Two graduating seniors were recipients of the College’s top academic honors, the Argonaut Award for achieving the highest grade-point average and the Edith Farr Ridington Phi Beta Kappa Writing Award for the best Honors paper.

Ashlynn Parker of Monkton, Md. (pictured above, left, with Board Chair Martin K.P. Hill), who earned a 4.068 grade point average in her entire completed course of study, was presented with the Argonaut Award. A Biology major with a minor in Exercise Science and Physical Education, she is entering the University of Maryland School of Medicine three days after graduating from McDaniel in order to pursue a doctorate in Physical Therapy.

Parker graduated summa cum laude with departmental honors in Biology, and was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Omicron Delta Kappa, Alpha Lambda Delta (First Year Seminar), Alpha Phi Omega Service Fraternity, Beta Beta Beta (biology) and Alpha Kappa Delta (sociology). She has been selected for inclusion in “Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges.” During her time at McDaniel, she researched the cardiovascular response to high-intensity aerobic and anaerobic exercise, and was involved with the Gerontology Club, Psychology Club and the Cheese Club.

The winner of the Ridington Writing Award was “A Name ‘Writ in Water’: Keats, Fame, and the Paradox of Immortality” by English major Christie Debelius. With minors in Writing and English Literature, Debelius turned her passion for John Keats into original scholarship on the early 19th-century English Romantic poet. She graduated summa cum laude with departmental honors in English.

Top graduate and undergraduate awards presented at Commencement
Christie Debelius, right, with Board Chair Martin K.P. Hill

Her advisor, English professor Pam Regis, says the Hampstead, Md., resident’s “appetite for studying literature seems to have no bounds:  from the medieval to the postmodern, Austen, Poe, Shakespeare, Whitman, Dickinson, Frost, early American lit – and beyond, Christie has explored literature as thoroughly as any undergrad in recent memory. Plus, she polishes her prose mirror-bright.” She was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Alpha Lambda Delta (First Year Seminar) and Alpha Kappa Delta (sociology).

Sarah M. Tringali, a graduate of the M.S. in Counselor Education program, and Bryana Bair, a graduate of the M.S. for Reading Specialists program, earned The B. Jill Brooks Hodge Professional Development Award and The Joan Develin Coley Award for Excellence, respectively.

Top graduate and undergraduate awards presented at Commencement
Sarah M. Tringali, left, with Board Chair Martin K.P. Hill

Recognized for her strong compassion for individuals with special needs, Sarah M. Tringali of Woodstock, Md., received The B. Jill Brooks Hodge Professional Development Award. She is a yoga instructor at Metamorphosis Pilates and Fitness in Sykesville, Md., and has been offered a position as a co-therapist and case manager at Catoctin Counseling Centers while she works towards becoming a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC).

She says, “As a therapist, I hope to kindle self-love, understanding, and light in the lives of my clients. I see myself as a supportive hand in the darkness, a fearless connection for the isolated. As a yoga therapist, I hope to one day incorporate holistic alternative medicine and exercise into my therapy practice, offering healing services for the mind, body and spirit.”

Awarded to a graduate student with the best record in the study of literacy theory and practice, The Joan Develin Coley Award for Excellence in Education was given to Bryana Bair.

Top graduate and undergraduate awards presented at Commencement
Bryana Bair, right, with Board Chair Martin K.P. Hill

Dr. Debra A. Miller, professor of Education and coordinator of the Reading Specialist program, remarked, “Bryana’s commitment to excellence and her quiet strength as a potential literacy leader caught the eye of the Reading faculty and the selection committee.” 

A second grade teacher at Westminster Elementary School, Bryana resides in Westminster, Md., with her husband, Michael, and three-year-old twins, Lillian and Oliver. On receiving the award, she says, “The reading specialist program was very challenging and incredibly beneficial. This degree is very meaningful to me. It’s definitely interesting trying to balance work, school and family.”

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