Six students, two faculty members and an organization were honored Friday for their dedication to the University of Virginia community as part of the Class of 2022’s Valedictory Exercises.
The awards were presented on behalf of the class, secret societies and an academic association.
Algernon Sydney Sullivan Awards: Students Yaa Awusi-Sarkodi and Domenick Bailey, and Dean Michael Gerard Mason
Awusi-Sarkodie is a first-generation college student, graduating with a nursing degree.
“A quiet and shy exterior hides a formidable leader who uses her core strength and perseverance to serve those around her,” said Chloe Leon, a third-year student and member of the selection committee. “Yaa has been a leader with the Office of African American Affairs Peer Advisor Program, residence staff and a trainer for the women’s basketball team – to name only a few of her many involvements.”
Leon said Awusi-Sarkodie had grown into her leadership roles, supporting the Peer Advisors and the women’s basketball programs through major transitions this year.
Awusi-Sarkodie is a fellow of the Meriwether Lewis Institute for Citizen Leadership, which prepares students to become lifetime leaders. She tutored third-year nursing pharmacology students; was co-president of Yahweh Ministries, an organization dedicated to cultivating cultural and creative outlets of worship; and was a resident adviser for UVA’s Housing and Residence Life. Awusi-Sarkodie also received a Blue Ridge Scholarship, given to students who demonstrate outstanding leadership and character while overcoming personal hardship.
Bailey, a pre-law student focusing on psychology and sociology, was admitted to Harvard Law School through its Junior Deferral Program.
“Dom Bailey has amassed an impressive legacy of scholarship and service to the University and the surrounding community, but you will never hear that from him,” Leon said. “A leader both in and outside of the classroom, Dom has co-authored a section of a book with a professor and served as a teaching team member for a course in the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy.”
Leon lauded Bailey’s service on residence staff; the Office of African American Affairs’ Peer Advisor Program; through his fraternity, where he has tutored and mentored youth in Charlottesville; and as one of the creators and moderators of the BRIDGE program – Bringing Race Into Dialogue with Group Engagement – where he is known as a gifted listener and facilitator.
Bailey has been a teaching assistant and has worked as an undergraduate research assistant for Brian N. Williams of the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy. He also has been a Virginia Indigent Defense Commission mitigation and investigative intern, and a resident adviser for UVA’s Housing and Residence Life.
Bailey received a University Achievement Award, given to students who demonstrate outstanding leadership and character while overcoming personal hardship.
Mason is an associate dean in the Office of African American Affairs, and director of the Luther Porter Jackson Black Cultural Center, which links Black culture and identity development to the whole Black student experience.
“No one who has had the pleasure of meeting Dean Mason will be at all surprised that he is receiving this award – maybe no one but Michael Gerard Mason himself,” Leon said. “A servant leader of the highest order, Michael is known among students and his colleagues as a tireless advocate for all students with whom he comes into contact, particularly those in the Black community.”
Mason served as director of Project RISE, a peer counseling project created for Black students by Black students, jointly sponsored by the Counseling and Psychological Services Department and the Office of African American Affairs. Mason developed the training for the student peer counselors and peer supporters, which then became available University-wide as the Hoos Helping Hoos initiative.
The Algernon Sydney Sullivan Awards have been presented annually since 1890. The awards, now presented at 70 universities and colleges in the South, are named for a New York lawyer, businessman and philanthropist.
Louis A. Onesty Memorial Scholar-Athlete Award from the Seven Society: Milla Ciprian
Ciprian is a global studies interdisciplinary major and a standout middle blocker on the women’s volleyball team.
“Milla has huge aspirations about impacting the world around us,” volleyball coach Shannon Wells said. “I have never met a student-athlete able to juggle the amplitude of tasks she takes on. She is one of the most impressive young women I have ever met, and every coach would feel honored to have an athlete like Milla in their career.”
Soumil S. Madhiwala, a Class of 2022 trustee who presented the award, cited Ciprian’s work outside the athletic arena.
“Ms. Ciprian has taken fundamental steps to bridge the gaps between student-athletes and the general student body by spearheading initiatives and programming through her other involvements,” Madhiwala said, “As president of the BOSS – Black Student-Athletes Offering Service and Support – support group, she has facilitated several social events open to the athletic and general UVA Black community to facilitate dialogue between groups, while also creating a space for fun and friendship.”
Ciprian also served as a model for the Organization of African Student’s Africa Day Cultural Showcase several times during her UVA career, and functioned as an integral and critical voice in her Global Development Studies major in the School of Arts and Sciences.
James Earle Sargeant Award from the Seven Society: HEAAL
Madhiwala also presented the Seven Society’s James Earle Sargeant Award, given each year to a student organization that betters the University community. This year’s recipient was the History of Enslaved African American Laborers.
“Since its founding, HEAAL has been a pioneer in educating the University community on the invaluable contributions of enslaved peoples, humanizing laborers’ histories and helping to foster a climate that centers transformative anti-racism work across Grounds,” Madhiwala said.
“For well over a century, the University refused to acknowledge how its legacy is entrenched in the vestiges of slavery, forced displacement and unequal treatment,” Madhiwala continued. “Reconciling generational harm and building bridges toward a brighter, more equitable future is no minuscule order; HEAAL has navigated this environment as students and storytellers with immense grace. The members of HEAAL recognized the urgency of bringing these stories of resistance to light. Their work illuminates the narratives of the enslaved peoples whose hands, labor and lives shaped every element of our present landscape.”
Gordon F. Rainey Jr. Award for Vigilance to the Student Experience from the Society of the Purple Shadows: Theresa J. Carroll
“In your 22 years of service to the University, Mrs. Carroll, you have served with constancy of character and unconditionality of love,” the society wrote in a letter read by Robyn Hadley, vice president and chief student affairs officer. “As senior assistant dean for academic and student services at the School of Nursing, you have seamlessly managed a broad portfolio of responsibilities essential to student flourishing. Across admissions, financial services and student life, your fierce fidelity to excellence enlivens all aspects of the student experience.”
In its letter, the society said Carroll was engaged in service of the highest order, and cited motivational speaker Leo Buscaglia, who said, “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring.”
“Through your daily actions and interactions, you have positively brightened this community – imbuing it with infectious optimism and effervescent energy,” Hadley read from the letter. “The society encourages you to continue to uplift those around you with your illuminating smile. Continue to offer students a listening ear. Continue to care ceaselessly for all who are graced by your spirit.”
The graduating students also honored three students who have contributed greatly to their fellow classmates.
Community Service Award: Devin Gardner
“Criteria is merely the minimum for excellence and Devin has selflessly embodied this belief during his time on Grounds,” said Eric S. Wan, a class trustee who presented the awards. “It may be easy for one to believe that balancing a course load of computer engineering and English, as well as being a full-time member of club swim, would be enough to fulfill themselves here at UVA. However, Devin has shown time and time again that his passion for helping others is truly what defined him during his four years here.”
Gardner embodies servant leadership, Wan said, pushing the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Honor Society into a more impactful body and organizing engineering workshops in local schools.
“For Devin, his relentless pursuit to empower his community and create everlasting opportunities for those who are disadvantaged are things that truly fulfill him,” Wan said. “A friend of his mentioned to me that, ‘He still keeps in touch with disabled children he taught to swim in high school, and he has still brought this same passion and kind-hearted energy with him to all his involvements at UVA.’”
Cultural Fluency Award: Elizabeth Aramayo
Established in 1996, the Trustees’ Cultural Fluency Award recognizes a graduating student who has demonstrated an understanding of, and appreciation for, cultural and intellectual diversity during their time at the University.
Aramayo’s work on Grounds demonstrated a strong understanding and appreciation of the cultural diversity that exists here at the University. Throughout the past four years, she has served as the executive director and social outreach chair of the Latinx Leadership Institute; director of alumni engagement for the Batten Latinx Network; social chair for the Cultural Organization for Latin Americans; and a mentor for students of Hispanic/Latinx origin.
“Elizabeth works tirelessly in furthering how the University embraces and empowers its multicultural students,” Wan said. “A colleague emphasized, ‘Even as a fourth-year student, her willingness to learn, specifically about how fellow multicultural student leadership programs are functioning, is heartwarming and serves as a reminder that the process of cultural fluency is a never-ending one.’”
Aramayo’s served as executive director of the Latinx Leadership Institute and helped develop weekly sessions for the organization’s 30-person cohort. She dedicated a significant amount of her academic time and effort toward collecting oral narratives from Bolivian immigrants around her community in Northern Virginia to lift up marginalized voices and help situate Bolivian-Americans within the larger United States-Latinx community.
Spirit of the Wahoo Award: Emily Moore
Created by the Class of 2022 Trustees, the Spirit of the Wahoo award honors a graduating student who, during their time at the University, has been a fervent and compassionate leader inside and outside of the classroom, fostering resilience, encouragement and inspiration for their community.
“A humble leader and devoted to making the communities she is a part of welcoming and inclusive, Emily Moore is characterized by compassion, empathy and selflessness,” Wan said. “She is a true light in the classroom, in the lab, and in the Charlottesville community.”
Moore has advocated for inclusive practices for students with disabilities within the Charlottesville Debate League. She plans to pursue a master's degree in speech-language pathology, and she plans to work with an underserved subset of autistic individuals, namely those who do not use spoken language to communicate.
“Emily’s benevolence, both in personal relationships and her involvements, undoubtedly shows her dedication to creating a welcoming space for the people she encounters,” Wan said. “Her passion and principled leadership embody the spirit of this award.”