Mystical Z Society Honors Top University of Virginia Graduates with Shannon Awards

May 8, 2008 — The University of Virginia's anonymous Z Society has announced the winners of its 35th annual Edgar F. Shannon Awards, given to the "best" graduating students from each of the University's schools.

In a notification letter to the winners — signed, "Mystically, Z" — the society wrote, "The definition of best student is intentionally left ambiguous because each of us pursues greatness in very different ways; however, the best student is an individual who has pursued academic greatness with fervent ardor and keen insight while never forgetting the importance of those priorities aside from school."

The notification letters state that the winners are determined based upon the recommendations of deans and students. Notations of the awards are made on both the students' transcripts and in the Finals program.

The awards are named for the University's fourth president. In its announcement, the Z Society lauds Shannon's legacy of initiating coeducation and increasing the numbers of black students and faculty, and his establishment of the Center for Advanced Studies and the Echols Scholars program.

This year's Shannon Award winners are:

•    School of Nursing: Sarah Morris Boschung, Oakton, Va.
•    McIntire School of Commerce: Jennifer Renee Clifton, Danville, Va.
•    School of Medicine: David Benjamin Bumpass, Flowery Branch, Ga.
•    School of Law: Katherine Ireland Twomey, Vienna, Va.
•    Curry School of Education: Kevin Patrick Haddix, Haddon Heights, N.J.
•    College of Arts & Sciences: Christopher Ross Walters, Blacksburg, Va.
•    School of Architecture: Malindi Rasangi Lankatilleke, Charlottesville, Va.
•    School of Engineering and Applied Science: Eliah Ruth Shamir, Vienna, Va.

The notification letter urges the winners to "Take the lessons you have learned here and use them to do great things for the world in the years to come, but never forget that you will forever be welcome back at our University. Congratulations, and happy graduation."