Shenandoah University presented one of its top honors, the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award, to seniors Duasiané Benjamin ’18 and Karen Cornejo-Guillen ’18 at the College of Arts & Sciences Honors Ceremony in Goodson Chapel-Recital Hall on Friday, May 11, and to Assistant Professor of Nursing Naomi Pitcock, D.N.P., RN, during the 2018 commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 12.
Sullivan awards are presented at 70 college and university campuses each year to honor college seniors and community members who demonstrate a commitment to serving others. At Shenandoah University, it is annually granted to two graduating seniors, as well as one non-student selected from the faculty, staff or board of trustees. The awards are given to individuals of “noble character” whose “fine spiritual qualities” are “practically applied to daily living.” The awards are presented to those who go “outside the narrow circle of self-interest” and invest themselves in the well-being of others – individuals who are “constant reminders to us of those high qualities which ennoble and beautify living.”
The award was established in 1925 by the New York Southern Society, which specifies the criteria for the award should be understood as “distinct from high scholarship, athletic achievement, success in business, professional ability, political leadership or mere worldly prominence in any calling.”
Duasiané Benjamin, a native of Hampton, Virginia, and a chemistry major has served as a resident assistant and a member of the executive board of the Harambee Gospel Choir.
An individual who nominated her described Benjamin as helpful, compassionate, kind, knowledgeable, and deeply caring. “Her friends regard her as a confidant and strong supporter. Her dedication to her relationships and studies has been an inspiration. She gives generously of her time and energy in order to help others, applies her faith to her everyday life and holds herself to a high ethical standard.”
Karen Cornejo Guillen
Karen Cornejo Guillen, a political science, Spanish and global studies major, was born in El Salvador and raised in Winchester, Virginia. She founded and served as president of Estudiantes Unidos, a student-led multicultural organization, and she was a First-Year Seminar mentor, a Scholars’ Latino Initiative mentor, a Spanish and political science tutor, a student board member for the Center for Public Service & Scholarship, a committee member for the Mosaic Center for Diversity, and a member of several honor societies, including the Spanish honor society, Sigma Delta Pi, as well as Omicron Delta Kappa and Alpha Chi.
One faculty nominator said, “I have never seen a student invest so much time and energy in the well-being of others with no compensation except the idea that it might make an impact in their future lives. Without question, she is in the top one percent of all students I have taught, in terms of academic performance, intellectual curiosity and personal integrity. She is one of the most honest, kind, considerate and noble individuals I have ever met.”
Cornejo Guillen plans to earn a Master of Arts in Latin American Studies at Stanford University then attend law school. She wants to work as a human rights lawyer at a non-governmental organization or the United Nations, specifically with the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.
Assistant Professor of Nursing Naomi Pitcock, D.N.P., RN
Assistant Professor of Nursing Naomi Pitcock, D.N.P., RN, teaches undergraduate nursing at Shenandoah University’s Eleanor Wade Custer School of Nursing with an expertise in neurotrauma, public health, breastfeeding and intercultural communication. She was described by one of her nominators as “a ray of sunshine at the school of nursing. Her warm presence has helped to create an environment of acceptance and tolerance. Her genuine and approachable nature makes her one of the first people that students feel they can go to when they need guidance and support.”
Another nominator wrote, “Dr. Pitcock leads by example as she helps to shape and inspire compassionate healthcare providers. She created a project through which she takes students to Appalachia, where there is insufficient access to care. She organizes the annual Wellness Festival, where residents of Winchester and other surrounding areas can receive free health services. She also educates Latino mothers about breastfeeding and provides them with necessary resources. She is a true example of someone who embodies compassion, responsibility, advocacy and justice, four qualities that Shenandoah University values within our campus culture. She does not avoid controversial topics, and she has bravely shared her opinions in public forums regarding issues of inequity, intolerance and the public health crisis.”