Bestowed at Commencement, the David Gergen Award for Leadership & Professionalism recognizes graduating students in each class who embody the highest levels of selfless leadership and service.
An Elon Law graduate in the Class of May 2017 known for “all of the time, heart, and soul she has put into this law school” was honored at her Commencement ceremony with the school’s most prestigious student award.
Ragan Hope Riddle L’17 received the David Gergen Award for Leadership & Professionalism on May 20, 2017, when she was recognized in front of family and classmates just moments after delivering a student address to graduates and their loved ones.
Students can be nominated for the award by their peers, professors, or staff, and they are selected by faculty based on law school activities that represent the twin principles of leadership and professionalism.
“Receiving the Gergen Award was such an incredible honor after a great three years at Elon Law. I was both surprised and humbled, as there are few greater accolades than being nominated by peers and selected by faculty that I sincerely admire and respect,” Riddle said. “The past recipients of the award have been inspirations to me, and I hope that I can take what I have learned at Elon Law to impact the legal profession in the same way they have.”
The award is named in honor of David Gergen, whose professional life and contributions have embodied the highest levels of selfless leadership and service. Gergen has served as adviser to four United States presidents. He is the director of the Center for Public Leadership and Professor of Public Service at the Harvard Kennedy School, one of the country’s preeminent political commentators, and chair of Elon Law’s Board of Advisors.
Riddle attended Elon Law after earning her bachelor’s degree in human services at Wingate University. An accomplished Elon Law Leadership Fellow, she served as editor-in-chief of the Elon Law Review, as treasurer of the Women’s Law Association, as president of the Federalist Society, and as a representative with the Student Bar Association, among other activities. She also worked as a research assistant for Professor Steve Friedland.
Professionally, Riddle secured top summer placements with distinguished state and federal judges, including the Hon. Paul Newby at the North Carolina Supreme Court and the Hon. James A. Wynn of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. She also spent time as a summer associate at Smith Debnam Narron Drake Saintsing & Myers, LLP, and interned with the Hon. James L. Gale, chief judge for the North Carolina Business Court.
In addition, over the past seven years, Riddle’s work has reached around the world with her service with 410 Bridge, an organization dedicated, in part, to community development and empowerment in Kenya. As a part of her work with the Daraja Children’s Choir of Africa, she has also led more than 100 students at annual leadership retreats in Kenya.
She is passionate about providing education opportunities for children in Kenya, and works closely with Canopy Life Academy, a Kenyan school described as “a creative learning community that seeks to cultivate character and unleash imagination in young leaders.”
Riddle has been featured in regional media over the past three years as she accomplished her academic and professional goals while being treated for cancer that is now in remission.
After taking the bar exam this summer, Riddle will return to the North Carolina Supreme Court as a clerk for the Hon. Paul Newby, the same justice with whom she interned in 2015. “Elon has not only given me the tools, resources, and education to pursue my career, but has allowed me to follow my dreams in a way I never imagined,” she said.
Assistant Professor Patricia Perkins presented the award to Riddle during a Commencement program that celebrated 91 students in Elon University School of Law’s Class of May 2017.
“Nominators of this year’s recipient celebrated her solid ethical base, industry, personal standards for excellence, and positive spirit,” Perkins said when announcing the award. “They noted that she has touched the lives of many in the law school, the local community, and across the globe.”