Lexington, Virginia • April 7, 2009
Washington and Lee University seniors Hunter Branstetter of Nashville, Tenn., and Jenna Walls of Zionsville, Ind., were named the John W. Elrod Unsung Generals of the Year at the seventh annual Celebrating Student Success Awards held Sunday night, April 5, in the living room of the John W. Elrod University Commons.
Branstetter and Walls were chosen with input from the campus community and the University's Celebrating Student Success committee from among a group of 18 student nominees. The award is typically given to one individual.
The award carries a $1,000 prize, to be split between the winner and the campus or local organization of their choice. Branstetter and Walls will split the prize. They will also have their names engraved on a plaque in the John W. Elrod University Commons.
Branstetter was initially nominated for his contributions to the Honor Advocate Program. Kristen Hutchens, third year law student, wrote in his nomination that, "without question, the student conduct and student self-governance aspects of campus life at W&L have been enhanced due to Hunter Branstetter's contributions to the Honor Advocate Program. The hundreds of hours he has invested have resulted in more students walking away from hearings feeling that they better understood the procedure and process."
Branstetter is also the Outing Club Key Staff for kayaking, a peer counselor and on the board of directors for the W&L chapter of Habitat for Humanity. An English major, he will be taking a year off to teach before heading to Vanderbilt Law School.
Walls was initially nominated for her contributions to Nabors Service League and men's basketball. Burr Datz wrote in her nomination that, "the result of Jenna's servant leadership is a rich benefit for the needy within Lexington and Rockbridge County. She coordinates approximately 400 students involved in Nabors Service League. She also serves as manager for the men's basketball team. Whatever her role, she is constantly enthusiastic and consistently optimistic."
Walls also is a past president of Pi Beta Phi sorority. A biology major, she will attend graduate school for physiology at Ball State University in Muncie, Ind. She hopes to become an orthopedic surgeon and/or sports medicine doctor.
In addition to Branstetter and Walls, the Celebrating Student Success committee recognized the following individuals at the awards ceremony for their contributions to campus life:
• Diana Burgreen ‘09
• John Christopher ‘09
• Micaela Coffey ‘09
• Helen Coupe ‘09
• Abigail Dean ‘11
• Jackie DiBiasie ‘09
• Isaiah Goodman ‘09
• Rasaq "Zaq" Lawal ‘10
• Lisa Luu ‘09
• Jessica Makona ‘10
• Julianne Miata ‘09
• Michael Morella ‘10
• Elizabeth Polanco Aquino ‘09
• Jamila Seaton ‘09
• Megan Steinhardt ‘10
• Hila Yashar ‘09
More information about the above winners will be on the Student Affairs Web site (Celebrating Student Success-2009) soon.
Also recognized at the awards assembly was sophomore Catherine Kruse, winner of the University's Decade Award, which honors a sophomore woman who has exhibited exemplary leadership and who has advanced the discussion of women's issues on campus.
Kruse is an English and psychology major with a minor in Women's and Gender Studies. She is the current vice president of KEWL (Knowledge Empowering Women Leaders) and a member of SPEAK. Recently she has been the chair of Love Your Body Week of the Sexual Assault Awareness Day and committee member for Take Back the Night.
The award was presented to Kruse by Elizabeth Knapp ‘89, associate dean of the College. Knapp said, "The Decade Award was given initially at the 10-year benchmark of coeducation at Washington and Lee and reintroduced at the 20th Anniversary Celebration of Women at Washington and Lee. Catherine is a fantastic woman leader on our campus, and she shows much potential for the years to come."
The awards assembly also provided student organizations and groups the opportunity to honor individual members who provided inspiration, leadership and direction for their organizations. There were many organization members honored in this way.
The Celebrating Student Success initiative began in fall 2001, with a charge from the Dean of Students' office to recognize those students who contribute to campus life in ways not often seen by the larger community, and who bring both depth and breadth to the University.