Students Honored by Student Affairs Division at Awards Ceremony

April 23, 2024


  • Michelle Aguilar-Gaspar and Ryan Harris were selected for the coveted Sullivan Awards. 
  • Nearly 20 awards were handed out to students, faculty and staff during the Student Affairs Awards ceremony on April 17 at the DiGiorgio Campus Center.

ROCK HILL, SOUTH CAROLINA – Two biology majors who have a passion for helping others captured top honors at the 2024 Winthrop University Student Affairs Awards ceremony on April 17 at the DiGiorgio Campus Center.

Michelle Aguilar-Gaspar, a senior from Georgetown, South Carolina, was presented the Mary Mildred Sullivan Award. Involved in the TRiO academic booster program for several years, she has shown a commitment to service that can be seen in her desire to mentor and tutor students. Staff members said she approaches each student with kindness and tries to find ways to adapt to their needs and learning styles. As a McNair Scholar, she wants to conduct research in the STEM field and plans to pursue a Ph.D. to work in cancer research. She also was instrumental in starting the Latinos Unidos student organization on campus late in her academic career and wanted to provide a safe space for this community.

Ryan Harris, a Rock Hill native who is working on a biology major with a minor in educational studies, was presented the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award. Active in many areas on campus, he serves as a biology department ambassador and participated in the Korean Wave Association and Tri Beta. He volunteered on campus as an Orientation Leader, a Student Orientation Coordinator, was a Council of Student Leaders member and an Admissions Assistant. Harris worked hard to create a welcoming environment for prospective students and their families with his calm, kind and thoughtful demeanor. After graduation, Harris will return to Winthrop to complete his master’s degree in education and then teach high school.

The Sullivan Foundation sponsors the presentation of the two awards to seniors from college campuses in the Southeast and recognizes individuals who demonstrate noble character and who act as humble servants.

The prestigious American Legion Award, recognizes those who demonstrate courage, character, service and scholarship, was given to De’Ja Young, a senior social work major from Columbia, South Carolina. The recipient of the Bachelor of Social Work Scholar Award, she plans to work with the Department of Social Services after graduation. During her senior year, she worked as a Student Orientation Coordinator and demonstrated that she was a thoughtful, caring, calm and critically thinking student staff member.

Additional awards presented were:

The Diversity and Student Engagement Award – Shivani Dahya, a senior from Columbia, South Carolina, who is graduating with a degree in sociology and a double minor in legal studies and political science. As one of the student coordinators of the Diversity Peer Educator Program, she facilitated workshops for athletes, Greek Life and other student groups, as well as presenting her research on different Asian sub-communities at two professional conferences.

Gloria Godfrey Jones Outstanding Tutor Award – Matt Brunet, a computer science major from Conway, South Carolina, who is finishing his first year with the Academic Success Center as a tutor for calculus and physics courses.

Active Bystander Award – Katherine Light, a social work major.

Cynthia Cassens Resident Assistant of the Year Award – Briana Tillman, an individualized studies major, who was described as a cornerstone of Thomson Hall’s Resident Assistant staff. She assists in training other RAs and makes the students on her own floor feel welcomed and supported.

Outstanding Student Organization Award – Sigma Alpha Epsilon for its members’ exceptional leadership and active presence on campus.

Outstanding Student Organization Program Award – Rock Climbing Club for Thunder Dome for commitment to their sport and for inspiring others to challenge themselves.

 Student Organization Educational Excellence Award – this first-time award went to the National Pan-Hellenic Council, who promoted education and leadership within the Greek community.

College Panhellenic Council Member of the Year – Savannah Brown, a psychology major, who served on the CPC executive board as vice president of recruitment and was president of the Psi Chi Honor Society.

National Panhellenic Council Fraternity Member of the Year – Tylique Smith, a business administration major, who is a new member of the Council and was a fall 2023 initiate of the Psi Kappa Chapter of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity.

National Panhellenic Council Sorority Member of the Year – Yesmine Alston, a business administration major, who demonstrated leadership as NPHC vice president and step-show chair.

Interfraternity Council Member of the Year – Isaac Pelletier, an economics major, who is an outstanding member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity.

Grant Scurry Dedication Award – Kevin Brown, a physical education major from Spartanburg, South Carolina, who is a facility supervisor for the West Center and who worked as an official and intramural supervisor.

Exemplary Service by an Individual Award – given to the Martin Luther King Service Week student leaders: Amaya Brown, Briana Tillman, Porsha Nesbitt, Andra Jackson and Shannon Williams.

Organization with Exemplary Record of Service – College Panhellenic Council for their Circle of Sisterhood Foundation, which is a national movement that supports removing barriers for education of girls and women.

Wellness Advocate Award – Kinyata Adams Brown, assistant vice president for engagement, diversity & inclusive excellence, who established a diversity peer educators group, collaborated with the Veterans Bridge Home, implemented a support system for first-generation students and assisted the Center for Student Wellness when it was displaced.

Wellness Alliance Award – Collegiate Curls, which holds events to empower members, build a sense of community, and to enhance self-acceptance and self-image.

Outstanding Student Employee Award – Rayonna Freeman, a mass communication major from Summerville, South Carolina, and Kaitny Stroman, a senior human nutrition from Aiken, South Carolina. Both are diligent workers who are dedicated in their jobs with the dean’s office and the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs.

Fred Angerman Award – Michael Szeman, a Winthrop alumnus and the associate director in the Center for Career Development and Internships.

For more information, contact Judy Longshaw, news and media services manager, at 803/323-2404 or

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