WINGATE – COVID-19 concerns led Wingate University to postpone May ceremonies until October and then to cancel them altogether. But the lack of pomp and circumstance doesn’t diminish student accomplishments.
Five graduates were notified last month of earning engraved silver bowls signifying their above-and-beyond contributions
Diareth Lizbeth Flores Nava
Diareth Lizbeth Flores Nava won the Budd E. and Ethel K. Smith Award for outstanding contributions through leadership.
Flores Nava, a finance major with a minor in accounting, was SGA president her senior year and SGA commuter representative for 2018-19.
“She was also very active in ALPFA (Association of Latino Professionals For America) and was a University Ambassador,” finance professor Lisa Schwartz said. “And she did the VITA internship on campus, which is where students help individuals fill out their 1040 tax forms. She is currently working at Bank of America.”
Judith Perez Castro
Judith Perez Castro won the C.C. Burris Award for representing the ideals of scholarship, leadership and service among women.
“When other students tried to avoid the harder courses, she looked for those that would stretch her mind,” said Sandi Mills, assistant math professor. “She was a criminal justice major with minors in legal studies and Spanish, but she embraced challenging courses in Arabic, philosophy and religion, while continuing to maintain a 4.0.”
Mills described Perez Castro, who was part of the Honors Program, as a “true leader, passionate about serving others.”
Giacomo Viazzo won the A.F. Hendricks Award for representing the ideals of scholarship, leadership and service among men.
Viazzo, a member of the Honors Program, double-majored in chemistry and math and was in the BlockChain Club.
“Giacomo Viazzo accomplished so much in the four years he was a student at Wingate University. If you were to ask any professor in the math department about Giacomo, they would all say the same thing: he is a one-of-a-kind math student,” said Kaitlyn Perry, assistant math professor. “He has a great natural talent for mathematics, and you could see this talent transform into a passion.”
Bailey Ann Freeburn
Bailey Ann Freeburn won the Fred H. Allen Award for best exhibiting Christian leadership.
“Bailey Freeburn earned a coveted spot in the Master of Divinity program at Yale University, where she is currently studying New Testament and Early Christian texts,” said Dr. Christy Cobb, assistant professor of religion. “A student in the Honors Program, Bailey double-majored in religious studies and math/business and kept an active research agenda during her time at Wingate.”
Freeburn also received the G. Byrns Coleman Excellence in Religious Studies Award.
Ebba Maria Stillman
Ebba Maria Stillman won the Jerry and Alice Surratt Award for contributions in international education.
Stillman, a management major, traveled to Japan last spring via W’International.
Barry Cuffe, business analytics professor, described Stillman as a quiet and shy student from Sweden who became more outgoing each semester.
“She overcame a serious swimming injury that led to a one-semester leave of absence in the fall of 2018,” Cuffe said. “Despite that adversity, she finished her swimming career as a team captain last year and still managed to graduate in four years with a major in management and a cumulative 3.432 GPA.”
Other graduates that would have received recognition at a Commencement ceremony are winners of the H.K. Helms Award, which goes to students with the highest grade point averages.
May and August graduates with 4.0 GPAs were Amy Elizabeth Adams, Claudia Jazmin Amaya Ramirez, Emily Elizabeth Barbee, Darci Renae Brown, Megan Len Huffman, Matthew Richard Livingstone, Mary Katelyn Nethery, Judith Perez Castro,Mayra Rosales, Caroline Elizabeth Rumley Rowell and Gabrielle Marie Slabaugh.
Wingate sent a personalized electronic degree to the Class of 2020 in the spring. Many grads picked up their degrees in drive-through fashion. The rest were mailed. December grads will be invited to take part in the May 2021 Commencement.