STUDENT NEWS: Honors Convocation salutes perseverance during pandemic

Honors convo

Congratulations to all the outstanding student-scholar winners of the 2020 Honors Convocation. This time-honored academic tradition, presented by the Office of High Impact Practices and Innovation, celebrates the outstanding achievements, leadership and service of Southwest students in each division and department of the college. Due to covid-19, the popular in-person event transitioned to an online, pre-recorded video where students and their families and friends could tune in from the comfort of their homes.

Award winners were announced by their division chairs and department heads with special remarks by President Dr. Tracy D. Hall, faculty and senior leadership. Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Kendricks Hooker summed up the significance of the unprecedented event for the students:  “I am confident in my belief that each honoree here today is fully prepared to take on covid-19 and any other challenges that may come before you,” Hooker said. “Why? Because your presence today, though virtually, has already shown me that you will elect to step outside of your comfort zone. In completing your honors assignments, you elected to challenge yourself to take a risk and not take the easy route.”

Two students garnered special recognition: Marrissia Gutierrez won Honor Student of the Year and Sheena Chambers won the HIPI of the Year award.

Dr. Julie Lester, associate professor of English, says Gutierrez is a model for her peers and a joy to have in the classroom. “Marrissia is the kind of student any instructor would love to have in the classroom,” Lester said. “She maintained her 4.0 average with hard work, attention to detail, consistency and perseverance—qualities that not only impressed me from the start, but also held her in good stead through the COVID-19 crisis,” Lester continued.

“Already a stellar student in my literature course, Marrissia contributed sophisticated and thought-provoking observations about the readings and encouraged the flow of conversation. She demonstrates strength of character and an unbreakable devotion to her course of studies,” Lester said.

Mathew Lexow, Assistant Dean of HIPI and philosophy instructor, says Chambers was the ideal International Studies student. Regarding their visit to South Africa in 2019, Lexow said, “Sheena was deeply interested in learning more about the culture and society we visited, she was willing to try new and challenging things, and she always had a positive attitude,” he said. “In particular, she demonstrated a genuine interest in the people of South Africa. Her attention and engagement with tour guides and the people of Cape Town demonstrated a passion for learning. It was truly a pleasure to travel and learn with Sheena.”

International Studies Coordinator Jessica Miller also worked with Chambers and said, “Ms. Chambers is a very passionate and driven student. In the short time that I have known her, she has shined and excelled in the International Studies Program,” Miller said. “She applied to study abroad twice and received a scholarship to participate in both programs. Ms. Chambers is not only an exceptional student abroad, but also at home.”

To see the list of honorees, click on the link below to watch the 2020 Honors Convocation  or visit  Southwest’s You Tube Channel at:

Congratulations to all the honorees!