Spring 2020 Awards Convocation

Online recognition

By Katherine Noll,

Typically, when students are recognized for their outstanding academic achievements at Northampton Community College’s annual Convocations Award Ceremony, there are a few things you can count on: a packed Lipkin Theatre, crowded with students’ families, friends and faculty and staff who are beaming with pridestudents dressed to impress, eschewing the typical college uniform of jeans/sweats and t-shirts/hoodies for attire that hints at their successful future selves; and the sounds of applause and cheers as the honorees are announced. 

The ceremony, held on Zoom on April 29 was markedly different in many ways, but heartwarmingly the same in others. Instead of applause, students were able to read comments such as “YAY! Woo Hoo! Great work! Outstanding! Love you! Woot! Woot! Way to go! So proud of you! Congratulations!” flooding the chat section as their accomplishments were announced.   

The program featured live remarks by Dr. Mark Erickson, president of NCC, and taped segments by faculty who shared their experiences of the students who were being honored. 

Despite the disappointment of not being able to be together on campus, there are many reasons to celebrate, according to Dr. Erickson.  

“I’m so very proud of each of you and what you have accomplished, rising above the Covid crisis as well as academic and personal challenges. You give new meaning to the words Spartan strong,” he said. 

Kate Curry, associate professor of early childhood education and last year's recipient of the Christensen Award for Excellence in Teaching, gave the convocation address.  She commended students for showing up, figuring it out and getting it done in the face of COVID-19.  

“You are game changers,” she said. “You are hard workers. You are creative thinkers. You are problem solvers. You are team players. You are community servers. You are joy bringers. You are hope reminders. And you are obstacle over comers You managed to shift your lives and your learning midsemester in the chaos of this pandemic in the relentless pursuit of your dreams.” 

Ariana Smith, winner of the prestigious Trustee Leadership Award and the student speaker, shared how her leadership journey began as a mentor for the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America program. Wanting to build on these skills, she joined NCC’s chapter of the National Society of Leadership and Success (NSLS), where she had the opportunity to work on a team with other student leaders to share ideas and action plans to achieve goals. 

Participating in NSLS prepared her “to become the vice president of the Psychology Club, the most meaningful experience I’ve had at NCC.” 

Erica Dickson sang the NCC alma mater, "Oh Northampton," with music and lyrics by Mario Acerra, professor of radio/TV, who accompanied her via Zoom on the piano, and Carlo Acerra, adjunct professor of communications, playing bass.


The awards and their recipients include: 

2020 All Pennsylvania Academic Team: Jason Allesch, Melissa Benzinger-McGlynn, Kimberly Gallo, Danielle Hanson and Laura Rex  

2020 Coca-Cola Academic Team Gold Scholar: Laura Rex  

2020 Coca-Cola Academic Team Silver Scholar: Danielle Hanson  

2020 Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship: Jamie Ratchford 

ACBSP Student Leadership Award:  Abed Sanchez Morales and Hannah Seltzer 

American Advertising Federation/Greater Lehigh Valley Ad Club Creative Achievement Award (Communication Design:  Print/Web Track):  Lila Shokr 

Award for Excellence in Academic Writing:  Ashley L. Price 

Bethlehem Women’s Club Nursing Award:  Kaylee Hunter 

Commuter Transfer Scholarship Award:  Eva Labram 

Drs. Edward and Arnold Cook Award for Academic Excellence in Dental Hygiene:  Gillian Carroll 

The Friends of Gregory Purdon Memorial Award for Excellence in Art:  Ashley Counterman

Heart of Hospitality Award (Discover Lehigh Valley): Paul Sadlon

Heart of Hospitality Award (Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau):  Jair Guardia 

Hites Family Foundation Higher Education Endowment Scholarship:  Rashawna Chambers and Hoang Mai 

Honors Program Award:  Jessie Bernhardt, Rashawna Chambers and Laney Steele 

Institute of Management Accounting Award:  Kelsey Miller 

Just Born Business Award:  Sarah J. Long 

Liberal Arts Award:  Acadia Imhof, Kimberly Schwartz and Ariana Smith 

Marconi Award for Media Production:  Victoria Aten 

Marketing Insight Award:  Ben Sine 

Nancy A. Taylor Endowed Scholarship:  Matthew Gillenkirk and Vincenzio Luis Lopez 

Newmann Civic Fellow Award:  Adam Broggi 

Norman R. Roberts Theatre Scholarship Fund Award:  Connor Knowlan and Jonah Padula 

Northampton County Bar Association Award:  Mason E. Gettys, Paula L. Rhinehart and Jenna M. Teague 

Outstanding Achievement in Chemistry:  Laura Rex 

Outstanding Funeral Service Education Student of the Year:  Sarah Irwin 

PA Funeral Director’s Award:  Klarissa Mertz 

Pearson Education Award for Biology:  Laura Rex 

Annual PACES Scholarship (Pan African Caucus Educational Scholarship):  Rashawna Chambers and Tammy Cassandra McNeil 

Sandra Preis and George Jain-Cocks Endowed Mathematics Award:  Matthew Gillenkirk 

Trustee Leadership Award:  Ariana Smith