June 24, 2021

Mortar Board bestows awards for leadership, service and scholarship

The Barbara Cook Chapter of Mortar Board has announced its 2021 selections for its annual awards.

Challenge Award

The Challenge Award recognizes a current Purdue sophomore who has demonstrated the ability to overcome challenges in any aspect of their college career. The applicant should also display leadership in student organizations and show potential for greater leadership during their time at Purdue.

Recipient: Amy Yang. Yang has major in ecology, evolution and environmental biology and is from East Greenwich, Rhode Island.

Dean Betty Nelson Service Award

The Dean Betty Nelson Service Award honors one Purdue student and one student organization, both of which excel in community service on Purdue's campus or in the Lafayette-West Lafayette area. Mortar Board seeks to recognize those who have been instrumental in the continuing success or initiation of service programs.

Student recipient: Madilyn Eberle, Doctor of Pharmacy student from Goshen, Indiana.

Student organization recipient: The Period Project, which works to lessen the barriers menstruators face due to the stigma and financial burden of periods. The organization states: “We work to provide free menstrual products to menstruators of all backgrounds. Focusing on education and discussion, we aim to destigmatize periods and create an inclusive community. Members are able to learn about the vulva, period poverty, sex and relationships while also working to support menstruators in need.”

Helen B. Schleman Gold Medallion Award

To continue and remember the legacy of Dean Helen B. Schleman, who served as dean of women from 1947 to 1968, the Helen B. Schleman Gold Medallion Award is presented to a deserving faculty member or administrator for contributions to Purdue, especially in the promotion and advancement of female students and women’s issues. 

The selection criteria are as follows:

  • Has contributed significantly to the promotion and advancement of women, both for female students and women’s issues.
  • Has served at least five years at Purdue as a faculty member or administrator.
  • Has provided leadership and service within and beyond the University community.
  • Lives by the principles of scholarship, leadership and service.

Recipient: Melissa (Mel) Gruver, associate director in the Civic Engagement & Leadership Development office at Purdue, where she supervises a team of individuals committed to designing experiences for Purdue students to develop their leadership and civic identities. The award summary states; “Gruver defines leadership as a process of creating positive change in one’s environment by influencing the decisions of others while maintaining respect for their freedom. She models this through her commitment to mutually beneficial community partnerships and an assets-based approach to communities. Her mentorship of Purdue students has set off a chain reaction of service, activism, scholarship and student power growth. Gruver worked with college women to start the AAUW chapter and has mentored them throughout the process of organizing on campus for a more equitable environment, a rape crisis center (which was established), a Campus Action Project Grant on women in STEM, Start Smart salary negotiation workshops, Equal Pay Day actions, a regional AAUW meetup and conference, and through successful applications to the Student Advisory Council. Melissa also coordinated the first Elect Her program on our campus and continues to work with the program.” 

As one student stated, “Mel helped me realize I can have opinions, say them, and not have to apologize for them. Women don’t need permission to have a voice, but prior to meeting Mel, I didn’t know that. Mel reminded me that I can have a voice and that as a woman, I can use that voice to create change and advocate for others. She validates and supports me and my activism, allowing me to really expand the work of my student organization.”

Graduate fellowships

Mortar Board annually awards graduate awards to encourage Purdue students of high character and ability to pursue an advanced degree in graduate or professional studies. Through these awards, Mortar Board seeks to benefit and recognize students who embody the principles of scholarship, leadership and service. Recipients and majors and hometowns:

  • Brandon Wells, materials engineering. Cary, North Carolina.
  • Teddy Sergesketter, industrial engineering. Bettendorf, Iowa.
  • Marina Mehling, biological engineering/biotechnology. Phoenix, Arizona.
  • Margaret Tharp, pharmaceutical sciences. Evansville, Indiana.
  • Megan McDuffie, physics. Carlsbad, California.

Undergraduate fellowships

This year Mortar Board also awarded undergraduate fellowships to current Purdue freshmen and sophomores who showed excellence in service, leadership and scholarship. Selection was based on scholastic record, character, service to campus and community, and stated professional goals. Recipients and majors and hometowns:

  • Amy Yang, ecology, evolution and environmental biology. East Greenwich, Rhode Island.
  • Elyssia Wellington, biomedical engineering/psychology. Avon, Indiana.
  • Joshua Wong, aeronautical and astronautical engineering. Garnet Valley, Pennsylvania.
  • Joshua Lyons, mechanical engineering. Livermore, California.
  • Bianca Caminada, physics. Sao Paulo, Brazil.
  • Boyang Dong, pre-professional pharmacy. China.

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