GWU Fall Semester Begins by Celebrating Academic Excellence and Christian Mission

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New President Dr. William M. Downs Honors Scholastic Achievements, Shares His Faith at Dimensions

A photo of Dr. Bruce Moser, winner of the 2019 Excellence in Teaching Award, speaking at the 2019 Fall Convocation
Dr. Bruce Moser, winner of the 2019 Excellence in Teaching Award, was the guest speaker for the Fall Academic Convocation. Photo by Lisa Martinat / GWU Photo Staff

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C.—Gardner-Webb University President Dr. William M. Downs recently began the semester by presiding over the Fall Academic Convocation and giving a special address to students as part of the Dimensions series.

A photo of Dr. Downs singing the National Anthem at the Fall Convocation
Dr. William M. Downs sings the national anthem during the Fall Academic Convocation. Photo by Lisa Martinat / GWU Photo Staff

During both programs, Downs focused on Gardner-Webb’s mission. “I want to underscore one important message as we launch this new year,” Downs stated at the Fall Convocation. “And the message is this—we are a private university with a very public mission, and it is incumbent upon all of us to live up to that public mission in some way.”

At the Dimensions program, which seeks to enhance the spiritual, intellectual and cultural life at the University and to promote a sense of community, Downs shared about his personal faith. He also talked about passages from the Bible that guided him as an undergraduate.

The academic convocation celebrated the accomplishments of new and returning students and featured Assistant Professor of Music Dr. Bruce Moser, winner of the 2019 Excellence in Teaching Award, as the guest speaker. Moser’s remarks included stories of famous composers, John Cage and Phil Glass, who washed dishes and drove a taxi until their music was published. He also talked about his own disappointments, and shared stories about the difficulties faced by the GWU administrators who were on the stage with him. He challenged students to persevere through hard times.

“It doesn’t matter the type of success—be it history-book-making like John Cage and Phil Glass, or everyday-relatable like passing a course, beating an illness or maintaining a relationship—it takes the resolve to work hard and endure when things don’t go as planned,” he related. “And when those storms blow in and push your little boat off its carefully charted path, you can take comfort in not only knowing who’s in the boat with you, but also that your calloused hands aren’t strangers to picking up an oar and paddling.”

After Moser’s speech, Scholastic Achievement Awards were presented to students who have maintained a 4.0 Grade Point Average for one year, two years and three years. The Ignite Excellence Scholars were also recognized.

Scholastic Achievement Awards

One year

  • Timothy Bennett of Fishers, Ind.
  • Carlie Blackburn of Vale, N.C.
  • Grace Davis of Staunton, Va.
  • Katie Freeman of Advance, N.C.
  • Jonathan Frye of Columbia, S.C.
  • Sarah Goode of Lenoir, N.C.
  • Sara Houff of Caryville, Tenn.
  • Hendrik Kortgödde of Kaarst, Germany
  • Holly O’Brien of Cornelius, N.C.
  • Faith Parandhamaia of Accident, Md.
  • Emily Rhew of Mooresville, N.C.
  • Benjamin Schade of Morrisville, N.C.

Two year

  • Benjamin Laspaluto of Apex, N.C.
  • Madolyn Aucremann of St. Augustine, Fla.
  • Emily Dyment of Whitby, Ontario
  • Taylor Mills of Lillington, N.C.
  • Allyson Rideout of Old Fort, N.C.

Three Year

  • Allison Chandler of Chester, Nova Scotia
  • Jennifer Jackson of Rocky Mount, N.C.
  • Courtney Kanetzke of Mills River, N.C.
  • Brian Stepanek of Mooresville, N.C.

Ignite Excellence Recipients

The Ignite Excellence Scholarship competition serves as an opportunity for students to compete for the highest academic scholarships awarded by the university. This year, one student received a full comprehensive scholarship, and four students received full-tuition scholarships.

Dr. William Downs poses with the recipients of the Ignite Excellence Scholarships. From left, are Katie Badgerow, Gabrielle Martin, Allyson Butts, Downs, Madilyn Nash and Lydia Mount. Butts won the full comprehensive scholarship, and the other students received full-tuition scholarships.
Dr. William Downs poses with the recipients of the Ignite Excellence Scholarships. From left, are Katie Badgerow, Gabrielle Martin, Allyson Butts, Downs, Madilyn Nash and Lydia Mount. Butts won the full comprehensive scholarship, and the other students received full-tuition scholarships. Photo by Lisa Martinat / GWU Photo Staff

Comprehensive Ignite Scholar

  • Allyson Butts is the daughter of Ken and Tonya Butts. She is from Concord, N.C., where she attended Grace, Hope, and Faith Homeschool. She is heavily involved at her home church by being in the youth choir, going on mission tours, Vacation Bible school, and Acteens. She also is deeply rooted in her community by serving at Wings of Eagles Ranch, GATE Pregnancy Resource Center, Running to Cure Type 1 Diabetes, and other local ministries. Allyson intends to major in exercise science with hopes of becoming a physical therapist.

Full-Tuition Ignite Scholars

  • Katie Badgerow—Katie is the daughter of Brad and Kari Badgerow. She is from Richmond, Va., where she attended Monacan High School. Some of her many achievements include being salutatorian of her graduating class, AP scholar 2018, U.S. Lacrosse All-Academic Times Dispatch Scholar Athlete. While at Gardner-Webb, Katie intends to major in nursing to become a nurse in medical missions.
  • Lydia Mount—Lydia is the daughter of Samuel and Kathryn Mount. She is from Statesville, N.C., where she attended Mount Christian Academy. While at Gardner-Webb, Lydia’s plans to major in Mathematics. Lydia’s long-term goal after graduation is to become a high school math teacher and share her love of math with each lesson and her love for Christ with each day.
  • Gabrielle Martin—Gabrielle is the daughter of Danielle Martin. She is from Statesville, N.C., where she attended Grace Academy. Gabrielle was a level 9 Junior Olympic Gymnast and Team Captain. She successfully completed three years of Leadership Track, was one of the winners of Blumenthal Performing Arts Best of Open Mic and led worship for the youth at her home church for three years. While at Gardner-Webb, Gabrielle intends to major in music with a concentration in worship and leadership. Her long-term goal is to be a worship pastor and purse solo music career.
  • Madilyn Nash—Madilyn is the daughter of Dave and Tamie Nash. She is from Cary, N.C., where she attended Cary Christian School. In her years of high school Madilyn served as House Government Vice President and President. She was an AP Scholar, Faculty Commendation and participated in every drama production for four years. Madilyn plans to major in nursing with making a positive impact for the Kingdom of God in the medical field.

Located in the North Carolina foothills, Gardner-Webb University is a private, Christian, liberal arts university. Gardner-Webb emphasizes a strong student-centered experience and rigorous academics to prepare students to become effective leaders within the global community. Ignite your future at Gardner-Webb.edu.