Collage including: group photo of 3 students, including Marshall Murphy; Riri Stuart-Thompson; group photo of three female students; and Rachel Blau

The College of Education and Social Services (CESS) invites you to congratulate the recipients of our Class of 2020 Senior Honors and Awards. Although we cannot be together physically to celebrate each award recipient, please know how proud we are of the life and academic contributions each student brings to our great College – and to the schools, families, and communities we serve.

Our Dean’s Office and Academic Program awards serve to recognize the significant accomplishments of our students, as well as the support and guidance they have received along the way from faculty, staff, friends, community members, and family.

Open each accordion below to see the recipients of our senior honors and awards in each respective category.

College of Education and Social Services (CESS)

The JANET BOSSANGE LEADERSHIP AWARD recognizes graduating students who exemplify what it means to be a servant leader. Named after a beloved CESS College leader who was a quiet force of scholarship, service, diligence, and kindness.

2020: Persephone C. Naylor


The COLLEGE OF EDUCATION AND SOCIAL SERVICES AWARD FOR ACADEMIC AND SOCIAL JUSTICE DISTINCTION honors undergraduate students who strive for academic excellence, maintain a high grade point average, and have advanced social justice and inclusive excellence.

2020: Chloe Michelle Dean, Marisol Garcia


The CESS STUDENT BANNER BEARER honors the graduating student who exemplifies the mission of CESS, and ceremoniously during graduation leads their peers.

2020: Persephone C. Naylor

Latin Honors

Latin Honors

Latin honors (summa cum laude, magna cum laude, cum laude) are determined when all grades for seniors have been submitted. Students receiving Latin Honors will be notified and will receive an Honors Medallion later to signify their achievement. Their diploma will also include this distinction. For more information about how honors are awarded please consult the University Catalogue.

Summa Cum Laude

Rachel M. Horton, B.S. Education
Maeve Straughan Poleman, B.S. Education

Magna Cum Laude

Emma Marie Bielicki, B.S. Education
Kelly R. Bradshaw, B.S. Education
Sara E. Casparian, B.S. Education
Julianne Clare Flynn, B.S. Education
Madeleine Darlene Petrovich, B.S. Education
Samuel James Whitman, B.S. Education

Cum Laude

Rachel Lauren Byrd, B.S. Education
Chloe Michelle Dean, Bachelor of Science
Cecile M. Dedios, B.S. Education
Hanna Riley Hefler, B.S. Education
Lena A. Kirillov, B.S. Education
Preston Murphy, B.S. Music Education
Jaime Elizabeth Owens, B.S. Education
Lily Elizabeth Pearsall, B.S. Education
Bailey Emma Ruhm, Bachelor of Social Work
Jamie Rose Simon, B.S. Education
Sophia Rose Smith, B.S. Education
Honour N. Solari, B.S. Education
Kaitlynn Danielle Tuohy, Bachelor of Social Work
Cecelia R. VeStrand, B.S. Education

University Outstanding Student Leadership Awards

The Keith M. Miser Leadership Award

Presented to the student who has been successful in campus leadership endeavors. This award honors Keith's idea of student involvement and recognizes a student who has contributed to UVM through their leadership on campus.

2020 Award Winner: Nyria "Riri" Stuart-Thompson

The Katherine Anne Kelly Award

Recognizes a graduating senior who best exemplifies Kate’s ability to bravely battle very serious medical challenges while still graduating and engaging in UVM student life with passion, energy and a smile. This award honors Katherine Anne Kelly, Class of 2000, who passed away in 2014 following a heroic battle with Cystic Fibrosis.

2020 Award Winners:

Department of Education

The 3Rs AWARD: RESPECT, REFLECTION, AND RESPONSIVENESS is given to the graduate student who consistently embodies a positive, strength-based attitude in the face of complex and challenging work. Interactions with children, family members, and colleagues are characterized by warmth, amiability, and a joyful spirit which serves as an inspiration to others.

2020: Fiona Nora Moynihan

Art Education

The OUTSTANDING ART EDUCATION STUDENT AWARD is given to the student who excels in academics and field work embodies the highest academic and field work achievement. This student demonstrates a commitment to providing and advocating for rich visual art experiences that enriches the lives of individual students, schools, and community. Academic achievement throughout their college years is highly considered, but student work in the field and their general contribution to the spirit of the Art Education Program is also considered.

2020: Kia'Rae Brynn Hanron

Early Childhood Education

The CONSTRUCTIVIST EDUCATOR AWARD is given to the undergraduate student who consistently fosters a brave and progressive approach to early education that upholds the values of social constructivism. This student endeavors to make teaching an inspired opportunity for children to make meaning and be an agent of their own experience.  This student ensures that teaching and learning are socially relevant, passion-based, active and innovative.

2020: Emma Hartl


The COLLABORATION AND PROFESSIONALISM AWARD is given to the undergraduate student who demonstrates outstanding teaming skills and professionalism in the classroom. This student's interactions with children, family members, and colleagues are characterized by shared leadership, mutual respect, responsiveness and a great spirit of collaboration.  This student personifies the value in early education that “none of us is smarter than all of us.” (anonymous)

2020: Bailey Elizabeth Benton


The LEADERSHIP AND ADVOCACY AWARD is given to the undergraduate student who demonstrates outstanding leadership and advocacy in the field.

2020: Jessie Leigh Ransom

Early Childhood Special Education

The OUTSTANDING REFLECTIVE EDUCATOR AWARD is given to the graduate student who demonstrates an outstanding reflective practice that, through persistent inquiry and self-study, serves to inform the complex roles and relationship of an early interventionist. This student embodies the identity of a life long learner, committed to responsiveness, individualized instruction, and the advancement of theory and practice in Early Childhood Special Education.

2020: Molly Rose Keenan

Elementary Education

The ELEMENTARY EDUCATION AWARD is given to students who have consistently demonstrated high academic achievement and outstanding performance in the classroom with regard to management, planning, and professionalism.

2020: Hanna Riley Hefler, Samuel James Whitman


The ELEMENTARY EDUCATION DIVERSITY AWARD is given to students whose outstanding work especially exemplifies the program theme: Teaching All Children Strategically in Diverse Communities. These students have an awareness of the unique contributions of each child in the classroom, and a commitment to include and celebrate diversity.

2020: Amanda Burnham, Jamie Rose Simon


The ENGAGED SCHOLARSHIP AWARD is given to the undergraduate student who exemplifies an unwavering spirit of joy in the process of teaching and learning. This student passionately demonstrates a commitment to evidence-based practice as they foster the engagement and competence of children, families, and communities. This student is not only prepared for daily responsibilities, but actively promotes the kind of learning environment that indelibly impacts each and every participant.

2020: Rachel M. Horton


The JOHN DEWEY IN ELEMENTARY EDUCATION AWARD is given to students whose academic performance and public school practice exemplify the philosophy of Vermont's well known philosopher and educator, John Dewey. These students clearly demonstrate the belief that children are active participants, rather than passive receivers of education.

2020: Sloane Caan, Sophia Rose Smith


The LEADERSHIP FOR SOCIAL CHANGE AWARD is bestowed upon students in the Elementary Education Program who exemplify a spirit of social justice. These students exhibit the qualities necessary to create change for children and families toward a more just and equitable future. This student is celebrated as they have gone above and beyond serving in schools and/or the larger community as champions for social justice, and have the potential for true, transformative leadership.

2020: Marshall Vincent Murphy


The REFLECTIVE PRACTITIONER AWARD is given to two students who have embraced a growth mindset through the use of reflective practice and feedback to grow and develop their teaching skills. These students have demonstrated the ability to consistently refine and strengthen their pedagogy during their professional coursework.

2020: Pirawan Ratanpratum, Kaitlin Schaumberger

Middle Level Education

The AL MYERS EXCELLENCE IN TEACHING AWARD is presented to students who exemplify Al Myers' dedication to the field of middle level education and his deep commitment to students. Recipients of this award demonstrate commitment, passion, patience, work ethic, creativity and enthusiasm for constructing exemplary learning opportunities for young adolescents.

2020: Benjamin Lovelette, Kyra Whalen


The CHRIS STEVENSON AWARD FOR COMMITMENT TO YOUNG ADOLESCENTS is given on an annual basis to the student who demonstrates the dedication and commitment to middle level students, exemplified in the work of the program's founder, Chris Stevenson. Recipients of the award are advocates for young adolescents; they understand the developmental uniqueness of young adolescents and are as knowledgeable about their students as they are about the subject areas that they teach.

2020: Maeve Straughan Poleman


The TEACHING FOR SOCIAL CHANGE AWARD is given on an annual basis to students who demonstrate a commitment to teaching for social change by emphasizing social justice and/or sustainability in their teaching. Recipients understand how to engage young adolescents in meaningful learning experiences designed to engage them as active citizens.

2020: Camilla Thomassen-Tai

Music Education

The LYMAN S. ROWELL AWARD: OUTSTANDING SENIOR IN MUSIC EDUCATION is given to a graduating senior in Music Education who has among the highest overall GPA, shows a strong capacity for music teaching, and has made an outstanding contribution to the musical life of the department.

2020: Preston Murphy

Secondary Education

The ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT IN SECONDARY EDUCATION AWARD is given to the student who has demonstrated outstanding performance throughout their time in the Secondary Education program, while also earning the highest grade point average.

2020: Rachel Lauren Byrd


The JANET BOSSANGE AWARD FOR ADVOCACY AND ENGAGEMENT IN SECONDARY EDUCATION is given to a graduating senior who has demonstrated an understanding of the power of engagement and advocacy in meeting the needs of all learners. This award is given in honor of a colleague who demonstrated a commitment to the ideals of John Dewey through her teaching and field practice. Dr. Janet Bossange spent her entire career focusing on the power of the individual in a democratic society. Janet believed that only through advocacy and engagement could teacher education candidates truly make a difference in the lives of all learners.

2020: Rachel Blau


The J.T. CALIBER AWARD was established in the spring of 2014 to recognize students who embody the values of the Secondary Education program. Students who demonstrate perseverance, a commitment to improving professional practice, a student-centered and creative approach to teaching, and a sense of humor are eligible recipients for this award.

2020: Lily Elizabeth Pearsall

Department of Leadership and Developmental Sciences

Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS)

The HUMAN DEVELOPMENT AND FAMILY STUDIES EMERGING PROFESSIONAL AWARD is presented to students who demonstrate excellence in application of HDFS principles to internship assignments and practice.

2020: Alex May Paige Curtis, Marian Margaret O’Hara


The HUMAN DEVELOPMENT AND FAMILY STUDIES ENGAGED STUDENT AWARD is presented to a student who demonstrates exemplary understanding of the field, deep commitment to learning and helping others learn, and motivation to improve the HDFS experience at UVM.

2020: Chloe Michelle Dean


The HUMAN DEVELOPMENT AND FAMILY STUDIES EXEMPLARY SERVICE AWARD is presented to students whose service to the Program, the College, UVM or the community promotes a more humane and just experience and quality of life.

2020: Benjamin Adonelfi Schnier

Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

The FACULTY CUP IN EDUCATIONAL LEADERSHIP is awarded annually to the student who demonstrates outstanding participation, academic performance, and commitment to program initiatives.

2020: Melissa Anne Shea


The GEORGE WASHINGTON HENDERSON EDUCATION LEADERSHIP AWARD was established in tribute to the memory of George Washington Henderson (Class of 1877), who was among the first African American students to graduate from the  University of Vermont and become a school administrator. This award is given by faculty in the Educational Leadership and Policy Studies Program to a graduating master's student who demonstrates a keen understanding of social justice issues and aspires to become a leader of a learning organization.

2020: Jennifer Clark


The GRADUATE AWARD IN EDUCATION AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS is presented by faculty to graduate students who best exemplify an understanding of integrated education public affairs. This award signifies a core tenet of the Graduate Program in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, that high quality educational services must be administered in partnership with other mental health and human services.

2020: Pamela J. Cummings, Jennifer Olsen


The OUTSTANDING DISSERTATION AWARD IN EDUCATIONAL LEADERSHIP recognizes a student whose dissertation research significantly advances new ideas and contributes to the knowledge and understanding of theories and practices in the field of Educational Leadership. The award is given to a student who exhibits a keen understanding of social justice issues and whose research contributes to the College of Education and Social Services' doctoral programs mission of preparing leaders who will contribute to creating more equitable and just schools and institutions of higher learning.

2020: Brandin L. Howard, Amanda S. Chase


The SUSAN BRODY HASAZI DOCTORAL DISSERTATION AWARD honors the legacy of Dr. Susan Hasazi, a professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from 1976-2010.  Dr. Hasazi’s leadership and groundbreaking research brought national attention to the needs of children with disabilities and their families, which in turn led to improved outcomes and increased access to high quality services in education, health, and human service agencies. Through the dissertation writing process, the recipients of this award best demonstrate the legacy of scholarship and educational leadership pioneered by Dr. Hasazi.

2020: Hemant Tamang Ghising, Sefakor Grateful-Miranda Ama Komabu-Pomeyie

Higher Education and Student Affairs Administration (HESA)

The HIGHER EDUCATION AND STUDENT AFFAIRS VOICE OF PASSION AWARD honors the contribution of a graduate student in the Higher Education and Student Affairs Administration program who demonstrates an outspoken passion for issues of leadership and social justice.  Individuals who receive this award have shown strong communication and mentoring skills in their professional roles in our campus community.

2020: Benedicto Borja Llave, Biana Natalie Ramos


The KENNETH P. SAURMAN MEMORIAL AWARD is presented to a Higher Education and Student Affairs Administration graduate student who has a) shown a record of outstanding achievement; b) demonstrated ability to make outstanding future professional contributions at both local and national levels; c) demonstrated future ability to make outstanding intellectual contributions to the field in the areas of research and scholarship; d) shown evidence of having fostered a sense of community and cooperation among peers, staff, and faculty; and e) shown evidence of outstanding contribution to the University through internship and practical experience.

2020: RoseIvy Flores, Molly Marie Williams

Department of Social Work

The MARGARET B. WHITTLESEY AWARD is presented to a student who has demonstrated outstanding academic performance and potential for significant contributions to the social work profession.

2020: Marisol Garcia, Jacqueline A. Kasinskas


The PHI ALPHA HONOR SOCIETY, University of Vermont’s Mu Eta Chapter of the national Phi Alpha Honor Society for Social Work students, invites into membership those who have attained excellence in scholarship and achievement in social work.

2020: Ainsley Walsh Broderick, Jacqueline A. Kasinskas, Bailey Emma Ruhm, Ariana Eleni Sirabian, Elizabeth Steckler, Amelia Catherine Toole


The SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC JUSTICE AWARD is presented to seniors who have demonstrated outstanding leadership and initiative as a catalyst in advocating for social and economic justice.

2020: Nyria "RiRi" Stuart-Thompson


The SOCIAL WORK COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT AWARD is presented to students who have demonstrated extraordinary commitment to advancing the well-being of communities through the involvement in human services.

2020: Bailey Emma Ruhm, Kaitlynn Danielle Tuohy


The SOCIAL WORK POLICY PRACTICE AWARD is presented to a student who has demonstrated a commitment to Social Work Policy Practice both in and outside of the classroom and, as a result, shows the potential for significant contributions to the Social Work profession through this practice area.

2020: Teremy Lee Garen


The SOCIAL WORK RACIAL JUSTICE AWARD is presented to a student who has demonstrated outstanding leadership and initiative as a catalyst in advocating for racial justice in both big and small ways.

2020: Amanda Martinez


The SOCIAL WORK STUDENT LEADERSHIP AWARD is presented to a student who has demonstrated exceptional leadership among students while at the University of Vermont.

2020: Persephone C. Naylor

Honors College

2019-2020 CESS Honors College Student Thesis

Maeve Straughan Poleman
Thesis: "Refugee Family and Teacher Partnerships"
Advisor: Cynthia Reyes, Ph.D.

Bailey Emma Ruhm
Thesis: "Trends in Cases of Adoption Breakdown"
Advisor: Lacey Sloan, Ph.D.

Fullbright Awards

Maeve Poleman: Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Award to Nepal

Camilla Thomassen-Tai: Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Award to Taiwan

See our story about Maeve and Camilla!


Celebrating the CESS Class of 2020

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