Student excellence celebrated at ElonComm awards ceremony

During its annual awards celebration, hosted April 18 in Turner Theatre, the School of Communications acknowledged exemplary student achievement, presented Outstanding Senior Awards, and celebrated this year’s inductees in the Kappa Tau Alpha honors society.

The School of Communications hosted its annual awards ceremony on April 18 in Turner Theatre, recognizing high achievement from students during the past academic year. The end-of-the-year ceremony featured several heartfelt moments, more than a few anecdotes, and even an absent awardee’s smiling headshot taped to a tennis racket.

Twenty-five outstanding students were selected from among nearly 1,300 School of Communications students to be honored for their exceptional contributions in and out of the classroom. Those honored meet the highest academic standards, have been active in on-campus media and student organizations, and have achieved great success in challenging internships.

“Today is the day we come together as a school and as a community to celebrate who we are, who we have been, and who we will be,” said Kenn Gaither, dean of the School of Communications, kicking off the ceremony. “This is a celebration of our community and those who rise above in their work.”

At the conclusion of the awards ceremony, the school recognized the contributions of several faculty and staff members, including the upcoming retirement of Associate Professor Rich Landesberg.

Ceremony photos are available on the school’s Flickr page.

Five students stand with their Outstanding Senior Awards.
Recipients of the Outstanding Senior Awards gather following the ceremony. Pictured (from left) are Jess Baker (Media Analytics), Jenna Manderioli (Journalism), Matt Newberry (Communication Design), Becca Chase (Strategic Communications) and Alex Chadwick (Cinema and Television Arts). Not pictured is Katy Boehmer-Abbott (Sport Management).

Outstanding Senior Award recipients

These six awards recognize outstanding personal and professional achievements by graduating seniors who have demonstrated through consistent performance extraordinary knowledge and ability in their areas of specialization, and have made significant contributions to the School of Communications and the major.

  • Alex Chadwick, Cinema and Television Arts Award. Presented by Bryan Baker.
  • Matt Newberry, Communication Design Award. Presented by Rebecca Bagley.
  • Jenna Manderioli, Journalism Award. Presented by Alex Luchsinger.
  • Jess Baker, Media Analytics Award. Presented by David Bockino.
  • Katy Boehmer-Abbott, Sport Management Award. Presented by Shaina Dabbs.
  • Becca Chase, Strategic Communications Award. Presented by Hal Vincent.

Student Scholarships

Times-News Publishing Co., Inc. Scholarship
Miles Hayford

Awarded to one journalism student in the School of Communications who is planning on a career in print journalism and has demonstrated leadership, scholarship, service to the community, and exemplary character traits. Presented by Kelly Furnas.

Anthony and Olga Duke Communications Scholarship
Halli Harwood

Awarded to students pursuing majors in the School of Communications on the basis of merit. Presented by Colin Donohue.

A faculty member stands at a podium.
Associate Professor Vic Costello (left) presents Aaron Chan ’26 with one of two A.J. Fletcher Awards. Photo by Aidan Blake ’26.

A.J. Fletcher Award
Donelle Leak & Aaron Chan

This award honors outstanding students majoring in strategic or broadcast communications who demonstrate a wide-ranging interest in the field, service to the community, and leadership on campus or in their lives. Presented by Colin Donohue and Vic Costello.

William S. E. Neff Elon Experiences Scholarship
Monika Jurevicius

Awarded to students with outstanding merit within the School of Communications to complete an Elon experience through study abroad, internship, leadership, service or undergraduate research. Presented by Rich Landesberg.

Stanley Albright Cook and Grace Lillian Lane Cook Endowed Scholarship
Charlotte Pfabe

Awarded to students majoring in journalism who demonstrate outstanding scholarly work. Presented by Rich Landesberg.

Liam Dupas ’26 (left) smiles as Bryan Baker, director of technology, operations and multimedia projects, introduces the sophomore during the ceremony.

Don Bolden School of Communications Dean’s Scholarship Fund
Liam Dupas

This award was created to fund experiences for Elon students to understand the links between learning in the classroom and applying that knowledge to explore and report on the world around them. Presented by Bryan Baker.

The James F. Hurley Legacy Scholarship
Annie Thyfault

Awarded to high achieving students enrolled in the School of Communications with preference to journalism majors. Presented by Lorraine Ahearn.

DuBois Legacy Scholarship
Sarah Dawkins

Awarded to rising juniors or seniors in the School of Communications who demonstrate a consistent commitment to their course of study and who show great promise through their participation in study abroad programs and internships. Presented by Khirey Walker.

James Wesley Willard II Memorial Scholarship
Anthony Bamford

Awarded to one student enrolled in the School of Communications on the basis of merit. Presented by Khirey Walker.

Brad Hamm International Communications Scholarship
Anna Kozlova

Awarded to one rising junior or senior student enrolled in the School of Communications, who is either an international student or has demonstrated strong international interest. Presented by Staci Saltz.

James Michael Elzar Foreman Endowment
Tory Schafer

This award honors the most promising rising senior focusing on television production to be used to fund an Elon Experience related to the student’s major. Presented by Amber Moser.

Anthony Hatcher holds a tennis racket.
Professor Anthony Hatcher poses with a headshot of Betsy Schlehuber taped to a tennis racket. The journalism major is studying abroad this spring. Photo by Aidan Blake ’26.

Maity Interiano Annual Scholarship
Lilliana Molina

This award is to be used to support a student’s educational experience, with preference given to a student who identifies as Hispanic/Latinx with an academic major within the School of Communications. Presented by Vanessa Bravo.

D’Angelo Family Scholarship in Honor of Bill and Kappy Leonard
Betsy Schlehuber

Awarded to one outstanding rising senior majoring in journalism and preparing to enter the field of broadcast journalism. Presented by Anthony Hatcher.

Sport Management Endowed Scholarship
Emanuel Peralta & Christian Atwater

Awarded to declared sport management majors who have a record of contributions to the department and exhibit significant potential for professional success. Presented by Young Do Kim.

Katie Bennert smiles looking at the camera.
During the presentation of the Christopher Edwards ’18 Award for Sports Journalism, Katie Bennert smiles as Assistant Professor Max Negin celebrates her broadcasting accomplishments.

Christopher Edwards ’18 Award for Sports Journalism
Katie Bennert

This award recognizes the work of a graduating senior who has established a record of academic success, demonstrated mastery within sports journalism, and made significant contributions to their major. It will honor quality sports journalism in Chris’ name, serving as an annual reminder to students and alumni of his contributions to the School of Communications. Presented by Max Negin.

School of Communications Founding Dean Scholarship Endowment
Avery Sloan & Lauren Boulia

Awarded to rising seniors with strong academic records in one of the majors offered by the School of Communications who are emerging as leaders in student media or student organizations in the school. Presented by Paul Parsons.

Special recognitions

To kick off the ceremony, Gaither recognized the school’s third class of Kappa Tau Alpha, the college honor society that recognizes academic excellence and promotes scholarship in journalism and mass communication.

This year’s honorees include: Katie Bennert, Ellie Caraway, Becca Chase, Joie Deslauriers, Alexandra Elliott, John Luke Farah, Ava Girardi, Isabel Gouveia, Jacob Kisamore, Catie Mannato, Grace McHale, Emma Petrosino, Cailey Rogers, Veda Skog, Gianna Smurro, Naomi Washington and Sadie Wiswall. Members must rank in the top 10 percent of their class and hold at least a 3.0 GPA.

“Our inductees today represent the best and brightest of our communication students and will help to ensure the industry stays vibrant and successful for many years to come,” Gaither said.

Kappa Tau Alpha, or KTA, is the seventh oldest honor society in the nation and one a few that specifically recognizes the achievements and academic performance of our nation’s burgeoning journalists.