University of Mary Washington senior Erin Shaw was presented with the Grace Mann Launch Award during the annual Eagle Awards ceremony honoring more than a dozen outstanding campus leaders in the University Center’s Chandler Ballroom on Thursday night.
Cedric Rucker, associate vice president and dean of Student Life, presented the $6,700 award to Shaw to help in her post-college social justice advocacy work.
“Shaw has a real strength for engaging other students, faculty and staff in dialogue … as well as motivating students to become more involved in addressing, creating greater understanding and resolving issues that impact their experiences,” Rucker said. In his remarks, he praised her unwavering passion and dedication for activism and her strong leadership skills.
Grace Mann was a junior student leader and social justice activist who died in 2015. Mann’s family established an endowment for an annual financial award bestowed upon a graduating senior who exemplifies Mann’s commitment toward social justice, equality and advocacy.
Like Mann, Shaw has been a steadfast advocate for equality and rights for all at UMW. The Ashburn, Virginia, native first became involved in People for the Rights of Individuals of Sexual and Gender Minorities by volunteering to manage PRISM’s social media accounts when she was a freshman. The following year, she was elected vice president of the organization and has served as president for the past two years.
In her tenure, Shaw has organized numerous events that bring awareness to bullying and harassment that targets the LGBT+ community and celebrates LGBT+ pride. Among these are the Gender and Sexual Minorities and Allies Cultural Celebration, the World AIDS Day Vigil, the Drag Show and the Day of Silence. She has helped plan the Multicultural Fair, and served on campus-wide committees for Martin Luther King Jr., Black History Month and Women’s History Month celebrations.
Under Shaw’s leadership, PRISM has partnered with other UMW organizations to promote diversity, inclusion and social justice on campus, including the James Farmer Multicultural Center, the Black Student Association, the Asian Student Association and Women of Color.
Her work on behalf of PRISM earned Shaw the Mary Washington Citizenship Award for Diversity Leadership last year. The annual award honors a rising senior who serves as an ambassador for diversity, a peer mentor to underrepresented students and a voice for underrepresented populations to the faculty and staff.
Shaw has served as a student trainer with UMW’s Safe Zone program and as a student officer in Psi Chi, the psychology honor society. She has also interned with the Virginia chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness and with the James Farmer Multicultural Center.
The psychology major plans continue her education at George Mason University, where she has been accepted into the Master of Social Work program.
“She is passionate about seeking out opportunities that will further enhance her learning and development with the knowledge and skills that will serve her well in her future endeavors,” Rucker said. “With plans to continue to serve and empower others, I have no doubt she will continue to inspire, challenge and change the world.”
Shaw is the fourth winner of the Grace Mann Launch Award. Past recipients include Ahad Shahid, Brittany Greene and Megan Blosser.
In addition, two students earned Prince B. Woodard awards Thursday night, which recognize excellence, contributions to the greater community and qualities of honesty and integrity.
Paige Hildebrand received the Prince Woodard Outstanding Leader Award, given to a graduating senior who has made a substantial impact on campus and beyond, while exemplifying honor, leadership and service. A critical asset to the Students Helping Honduras Executive Board, Hildebrand assumed the role of treasurer and reorganized all of the club’s funds. She also planned the For the Kids 5K.
Lillian Lester earned the Prince Woodard Emerging Leader Award, given to a rising sophomore, junior or senior who has already made a difference in the campus community. Lester, a current junior, has served as a peer mentor, an orientation leader and orientation coordinator. She will now assume a new role as a senior student coordinator.
Anika Hussain and Bryant Atkins received the Clara Boyd Wheeler Award for exemplifying grace, a spirit of service and the ability to change lives.
Jordan Chandler earned the Elizabeth A. Baumgarten Leadership Award for outstanding service to the university and community.
Theodosius Zotos received the Alumni Association Service Award and the Alex Naden Award, which honors a student who best embodies Naden’s character. A senior class officer and member of the rugby team, Naden, who graduated from Mary Washington in 2003, lost his life in an accident later that year.
Other individual award winners were:
Brenna Creamer, Leader in Service
Rebecca Messier, Unsung Hero
John Cronin, Alumni Award
Stacey Feindt, Distinguished BLS Award
JoAnna Raucci, associate director of the James Farmer Multicultural Center, received the Giving Tree Award, which honors faculty or staff that a student feels has contributed significantly to the mission of the university through their work directly with students.
The following programs also received awards:
Outstanding Philanthropy Program: Women Empowerment Through the Arts
Outstanding Diversity Program: Fall Social Justice Trip to Alabama
Outstanding Educational Program: This is America: Social Justice Teach-In Series
Outstanding Large Scale Program: Charity Match – UMW Men’s and Women’s Club Soccer
The following organizations also were presented with awards:
Outstanding Community Service Organization: COAR
Outstanding New Club: Better Energy Awareness and Mobilization (BEAM)
Outstanding Overall Achievement for a Club or Organization: African Student Union