By Wesley Walter, Managing editor
The University of Montevallo celebrated the academic and extracurricular accomplishments of outstanding seniors during Senior Elite Night on Nov. 9. Vice President of Enrollment and Student Affairs Dr. Tammi Dahle opened the event by discussing the history and significance of the tradition.
“Historical accounts indicate Elite Night was an occasion to honor the beauties, the favorites and who’s who of Alabama College,” Dahle said. “Although it’s unclear when the change occurred, Elite Night is now the occasion when we recognize students who have excelled in their academic endeavors, as well as those who are outstanding in their leadership and service activities.”
At the event, Senior Class President Abigail Heuton awarded the Elite Night Dedication, which is voted on by members of the senior class, posthumously to philosophy professor Dr. Stefan Forrester.
Heuton said of Forrester, “He will be remembered for his bolstering laugh, his iconic suspenders, his love for a good philosophical debate and love for the people closest to him.”
Forrester’s partner, biology professor Dr. Jill Wicknick accepted the award for him.
“Dr. Forrester would be honored to be the recipient of this dedication,” Wicknick said.
During her speech, Wicknick outlined a series of reminders that Forrester would have found important to give.
“Dr. Forrester would remind you to thoughtfully consider issues of public human concern, and to recognize that there are subtleties and complexities that must be considered in decision-making about human lives,” she said. “He would remind you to seek truth even when it’s difficult. He would remind you to love freely and deeply those who love you, and he would remind you to experience all of life fully, rather than to become too focused on a single aspect.”
Senior Elites were recognized during the event with Dahle leading their presentation.
According to Dahle, Senior Elites are chosen by the faculty of each major for their leadership and outstanding academic performance.
“This is the highest honor bestowed by an academic department,” she said.
Dr. Brett Noerager, chair of the department of biology, chemistry, mathematics and computer science, introduced the Senior Elites for the College of Arts and Sciences. The recipients were Olivia Bergert for biology, Anna Katherine Eastman for chemistry, Katelyn Morrow for communication science and disorders, Tristan Ashley for computer science, Rebecca Williamson for English, Lauren Tidwell for environmental studies, Avery Campbell for health professions, Raegan Lindsey for history, Amber Fisher for mathematics, Alexander Martinez for political science, Darius Allen and Jessica Martin for psychology, Lucy Frost-Helms and Veronica Kloss for social science, Laila Hernandez for social work and Madison Taylor for sociology.
Martinez, speaking on the award said, “I worked very hard, a lot of dedication a lot of hours in silence—and a lot of hours in silence, you know, preparing for this moment—and it’s nice to finally see my hard work pay off.”
“I got to be honored in front of my family and, you know, it’s just been all in all a great experience and I’m very thankful to the faculty in the political science department and across the university.” Martinez said.
Senior Elites for the Michael E. Stephens College of Business were announced by the college’s dean, Dr. Amiee Mellon.
These students were, Alyssa Frederick for accounting, Laniah Keys-Lofton for data analytics, Mitchell Fleming for finance, Meredith Camacho and Gerry York for management and Jada Bennett and Katherine Monson for marketing.
College of Education and Human Development Interim Dean Dr. Donna Ploessl announced Senior Elite winners for her college.
They were, Katelyn Peoples for education for the deaf and hard of hearing, Vanessa Avalos for elementary education, Evelyn Terry for elementary education- collaborative, Manuel Munoz, II for exercise and nutrition science- allied health, Cierra Redin for exercise and nutrition science- health promotion, Alyxandra Lucero for exercise and nutrition science- nutrition and wellness, Trudie Benson for exercise and nutrition science- strength and conditioning, Kimberly Martin for family and consumer sciences- education, Crymson Moore for family and consumer sciences- human development and family studies and Hannah Norris for family and consumer sciences- retail merchandising.
“I feel very happy to be recognized with some of my friends,” Avalos remarked about the ceremony,
Dean of the College of Fine Arts Dr. Steven Peters introduced the Senior Elites from his college.
These were Stephanie Odom and Abby Truitt for art, Sean Bloemetjie for communication studies, Jayden Presley for mass communication, Katherine Monson for music, Brylie Posey for music education, Veronica Conely for music performance and Will Harrell for theatre.
Who’s Who Among Students at the University of Montevallo were also recognized by Dahle at the event. Winners of this accolade are appointed by their peers during an election in the fall semester.
“Who’s Who among students furthers the aims of higher education by rewarding and recognizing individual scholastic, leadership and community achievements,” Dahle said.
According to Dahle, the 22 awardees represent 15 majors, 46 student organizations and three athletic teams. She said these students have also participated in intramural sports, College Night, Montevallo Masters, the Orientation Leaders program, music ensembles, the Honors Program, theatre productions, MacNair Scholars, TRIO Peer Mentors and numerous university committees.
The students awarded Who’s Who recognitions were Brianna Bramlett, Sydney Brooks, M.K. Bryant, Allie Dishman, Emily Esneault, Romeo Garrison, Faith Hanna, Morgan Haynes, Rachel Johnson, Jordan Kinney, Veronica Kloss, Elijah Knight, Jordan Long, Katelyn Morrow, Manuel Munoz, II, Blaine Richardson, Colton Rodano, Cole Swain, Janie Taylor, Katie Trimm, Abby Truitt and Riley Watkins.
As each student was introduced, Dahle listed the various extracurricular activities and accomplishments of the students being honored.
Several other students were recognized at Elite Night as well. This included the 2023-24 College Night Leaders—Joshua Giles and Abby Sledd for Purple Side and Anna Brasfield and Abi DeWilde for Gold Side—as well as students who serve as Montevallo Masters and Mr. And Ms. Montevallo finalists.
Mr. And Ms. Montevallo finalists are students who are chosen by their peers in an election in the fall semester. Mr. and Ms. Montevallo winners are then chosen in a separate vote during the spring semester and announced on the Friday night of College Night performances. Finalists for Mr. Montevallo were Jbrelin Cook, Stephen Haymond and Manuel Munoz. Ms. Montevallo Finalists were Ashlee Hall, Nyla Shipman and Abby Truitt.
Student Government Association President Colton Rodano introduced the 2023-24 SGA Executive Cabinet.
“I would like to give a special thanks to these SGA Executive Cabinet members. They’ve done a phenomenal job this year and I’m honored to be able to work with each of them,” Rodano said.
Dahle ended the ceremony by asking parents, spouses and children of the students being honored to stand and be recognized.
Dahle said “We know that families play a vital role in any student’s achievement. The students and we at the university community are very grateful to you for your continued support.”
Following the event, Student Trustee Aubrie Chastain said, “I think it went well. I’m happy for all the people that got honored and I think it’s a great way to acknowledge all of our seniors who are well accomplished.”
Wesley Walter is managing editor for The Alabamian. He is a junior English major and mass communications minor. Wesley boasts a 750 credit score, boyish good looks and soulful eyes that contain a deep indescribable sadness. In his free time, he enjoys travelling, visiting gas stations and thinking about getting into surfing.