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Annual Awards Ceremony and Toast to the Class of 2021

by Katie Gortz on 05/13/2021

On the eve of SLU-Madrid's commencement ceremony each year, Paul Vita, Ph.D., SLU-Madrid director and academic dean, holds a reception for students, their families, faculty and staff to honor outstanding achievement. The SLU-Madrid community "zoomed in" from across the globe for this year’s Annual Alumni Awards Ceremony and Toast to the Class of 2021 to celebrate the completion of a challenging yet rewarding academic year.

Annual Awards Ceremony 2021

A SLU-Madrid tradition, the Annual Awards Ceremony recognizes students, faculty and staff for outstanding academics, leadership, service and contributions to the SLU-Madrid community. The ceremony, held on Zoom this year, concluded with a toast to the Class of 2021. 

Paloma Gómez de Salazar, counselor and campus minister, and Carlos Villar Moreu, student life programs assistant, served as masters of ceremony, introducing Vita as well as SLU President Fred Pestello, Ph.D., and Provost Michael Lewis, Ph.D., who connected from St. Louis to congratulate the honorees and join the toast to the Class of 2021.

Special Awards and Recognition

Vita recognized the students who earned distinction for their cumulative GPA:

Cum Laude (3.5 or higher)

Magna Cum Laude (3.7 or higher)

Summa Cum Laude (3.9 or higher)

This year’s Student Government Association Recognition Awards, presented by SGA President Daniel Harris, honored outstanding faculty in different academic disciplines:

Faculty Excellence in Anthropology

María Belén Molinuevo Puras, Ph.D.

Faculty Excellence in Business and Economics

Laura Muro, Ph.D.

Faculty Excellence in Communication

Brian Goss, Ph.D.

Faculty Excellence in Engineering, Aviation and Technology

Javier Gamo, Ph.D.

Faculty Excellence in English

Timothy Ryan Day, Ph.D.

Faculty Excellence in Fine and Performing Arts

Isabel Albertos Johnston

Faculty Excellence in Health Sciences, Nursing and Public Health

Maria José Morell

Faculty Excellence in History

Kevin Ingram, Ph.D.

Faculty Excellence in Mathematics and Computer Science

Luis Miguel Anguas Marquez

Faculty Excellence in Modern Languages

Anne McCabe, Ph.D.

Faculty Excellence in Natural Sciences

Mónica Pérez-Bedmar

Faculty Excellence in Philosophy

Juan Hermoso, Ph.D.

Faculty Excellence in Political Science

Daniel Blanch, Ph.D.

Faculty Excellence in Psychology

Joshua Guyer, Ph.D.

Faculty Excellence in Spanish

Julio Lasarte

Faculty Excellence in Theology

James O’Leary, S.J.

Director of Admissions Heidi Buffington announced the two recipients of this year’s Admissions Department Awards:

Outstanding Faculty Support of Recruitment Initiatives

Hamish Binns, Modern Languages and ESL

Outstanding Service

 Khadidja Djebairia

Director of Student Life Marta Maruri announced the Student Life Awards for outstanding contributions to the campus community. 

Servant Leadership Award

Allie Biscupski and Khadidja Djebairia

Community Service Award


New Student Leader Award

Chandler Clemens

Sportspersonship Award

Clara Sánchez Cirvián

Most Creative Student-led Organization Award

Environmental Friends Club

New Club/Organization Award

Black Students Organization

The ceremony continued as academic departments across campus recognized outstanding students in their respective fields:

Academic Excellence in Art History

Jacinta María Andrea Suárez

Academic Excellence in Business

Top Communication Graduate

Lukas Andrew Briggs

Top Communication Graduate—First Runner-up

Carmen Rodríguez Parra

Intellectual Development & Creativity as a Communication Student Award

Jen Puig

Manresa Award for Academic Writing in English 

Rachel Morgan: "Warrior Stella" (First-prize)

Manresa Award for Academic Writing in English : Honorable Mention

Georgia Johnston Creative Writing Award

Lydia Brandt

Georgia Johnston Creative Writing Award: Honorable Mention

English Department Award for Intellectual Growth

Clara Sánchez Cirvián

Excellence in History Award

Roberta Gogiu

Academic Excellence in Political Science and International Relations

Contribution to the Life of the Political Science and International Relations Program

Excellence in Mathematics

James Bell

Excellence in Computer Science

Nada Saadi

Academic Excellence in Engineering

Alejandro Calleja Bezares

Academic Excellence in Health Sciences

Patrick Murphy

XI Concurso de Escritura Creativa Ignacio de Loyola. Primer Premio

Gustavo Lovato

Premio a la Excelencia Académica en Español

Anna Panetta

Premio a la Contribución al Departamento de Español

Julia Valgenti 

Library Association Undergraduate Writing Award: First Prize

Khadidja Djebairia

Vita also recognized Abigail Dyson, Alie Biscupski and Natalie Eriksen, who were inducted into Alpha Sigma Nu, the national honor society of the 28 Jesuit colleges and universities in the United States. Membership in Alpha Sigma Nu is one of the highest honors on a Jesuit campus. The organization identifies students who demonstrate an intelligent appreciation of, and commitment to, ideals of Jesuit education, focusing on scholarship, loyalty and service.

Toasting the Class of 2021

Assistant Dean Jaime Ortiz then went on to individually recognize each member of the Class of 2021 and Class of 2020, who were also invited to attend, before Vita brought the celebration to a close with a toast to the Class of 2021:

"You earned your degrees at SLU-Madrid. You completed them during the year 2021. These two facts mean that you have a profound understanding of how the world is interconnected. How individual and community actions have a global impact. Many joys await you: many challenges do too. Please know that the faculty and staff of SLU-Madrid will do our best to support you as you pursue your careers—heartened that you will be the kind of leaders who epitomize the University’s mission—that is, to care passionately about social justice and to make the world a better place. Here is to the future success, health and happiness of SLU-Madrid’s Class of 2021!"