April 17, 2008
Three students sweep top honors at university's Honors and Awards Day
The University of South Carolina presented its top awards for undergraduate achievement -- the Algernon Sydney Sullivan and the Steven N. Swanger awards -- to three seniors at its annual Honors and Awards Day ceremony Thursday (April 17).
Chris Gainey of Bonneau and Sierra Carter of Britton's Neck received the Sullivan awards, the university's highest honor for undergraduates. Sullivan awards are given each year to one male and one female graduating senior for their outstanding achievements, campus leadership, exemplary character and service to the community. The award is named for the 19th-century New York lawyer and philanthropist.
Amanda Kay Seals of Clinton, Tenn., received the Swanger award, the university's second-highest undergraduate honor. The award is named for a former president of Omicron Delta Kappa (ODK), which sponsors the university's Honors and Awards Day. It is given to a graduating senior for exemplary leadership and for making significant contributions to the Carolina community.
University President Andrew Sorensen said the award winners have compiled outstanding records of achievement in the classroom, through leadership and in service.
"These award winners have left an indelible mark on the Carolina community through their leadership positions in student government and campus organizations and the many hours they've spent volunteering with organizations locally and nationally," Sorensen said. "We applaud their efforts and know that they will take this commitment to the communities in which they begin their careers."
The university also presented more than 250 awards recognizing undergraduate academic, service, athletic and leadership achievements.
ALGERNON SYDNEY SULLIVAN AWARD
Chris Gainey, son of Michael and Melanie Wyndham of Bonneau and Ricky and Kay Gainey of Florence, is a graduate of Timberland High School. A South Carolina Honors College student, Gainey will graduate in May with a bachelor's degree in biological sciences. He has been accepted at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine.
While serving as secretary of health services for the university's student government, Gainey conducted research and a survey on the student health center to determine student healthcare needs. His efforts resulted in a report to the university's Board of Trustees, which is conducting a feasibility study on a possible expansion of the center.
"I can take pride in the fact that my work will benefit future Carolina students for years to come," Gainey wrote in his application for the Sullivan award.
A member of Phi Beta Kappa, Gainey is a member of Golden Key International Honor Society and has been treasurer and president of the society. He has served on the student government's elections commission, executive cabinet and constitutional council. Gainey also has been vice president of Carolina Productions, an orientation leader, a member of residence hall government, a student member of the Carolina Alumni Association and member and freshman mentor for PACES, an organization for pre-med students.
His honors include the student government's Meritorious Service Award, the TOAST Leadership Award, the undergraduate research fellowship award from the honors college and a research award from the university's annual Discovery Day competition for undergraduate research.
Gainey has worked as an emergency medical technician (EMT) for the Berkeley County EMS, a lifeguard and director of aquatics for the Berkeley County YMCA, a youth group leader at Midlands Christian Church, a camp counselor and medic at Camp Edisto and a volunteer with the American Red Cross.
"I believe my Carolina experience has made me a better student, a better person, and a better future physician. I have gained an enormous amount of life experience that will shape who I am for years to come," Gainey wrote.
ALGERNON SYDNEY SULLIVAN AWARD
Sierra Carter, daughter of Jean Carter of Britton's Neck and Ronald Carter of Murrells Inlet, is a graduate of Creek Bridge High School. She will graduate in May from South Carolina Honors College with a bachelor's degree English and plans to attend graduate school or teach English abroad.
Carter is a Gates Millennium Scholar, a Ronald E. McNair Scholar, a Jane E. Hunter Scholar and a recipient of the George Rogers Foundations of the Carolinas Inc. Scholarship and William Way Scholarship. She was a 2006 finalist for the Harry S. Truman Scholar fellowship and has been on the President's Honor List since 2003.
Active in student life, Carter has been been a member of the Opportunity Scholars Program, the Empowerment Institute, the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, Alpha Lambda Delta, Women's Mentoring Network, Association of African-American Students, SAVVY and the Britton's Neck Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Committee. She was vice president of the Golden Key International Honor Society, a writer for the Garnet & Black, a site leader for the university's MLK Service Day, a member of the Bethel A.M.E. Inspirational Choir and a student educator for the Earth Festival.
"Listening, speaking, spreading hope, and believing that the best exists in all mankind have been my cornerstones and my calling while at Carolina," Carter wrote in her application letter for the Sullivan award.
Instrumental in the development of the Minority Honors Student Union, Carter was named the TRIO Spotlight Student in 2005, a finalist for the 2006 USC Woman of the Year award, and a recipient of the TRIO Academic Award of Excellence (2003 - 2007). She received the University 101 Essay Award in 2003 and was elected a peer leader for University 101 in 2007.
Carter has participated in national conferences and conventions as a Carolina student and was a student/volunteer with the Council for Opportunity in Education Study Abroad Tour, in cooperation with the University of Liverpool.
"I mentor students one-on-one and educate them about available on- and off-campus resources to help them reach their goals . I strive to be that perpetual current of air that sends students soaring upward and outward to grasp and hold on to their goals and dreams," Carter wrote.
STEVEN N. SWANGER AWARD
Amanda Kay Seals
Amanda Kay Seals, daughter of Gibby Seals and the late Philip Seals, is a graduate of Clinton High School. She is a South Carolina Honors College senior pursuing a baccalaureaus arts et scientiae degree comprising poverty and development studies. She is scheduled to graduate in December 2008 and plans to attend law school.
Seals is a McNair Scholar and a Tennessee Valley Authority Dependent Scholar. A 2008 Truman Scholar nominee, Seals was a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar and studied in West Africa. A a member and president of the university's Mock Trial program, Seals was named best attorney at the College of Charleston Invitation Mock Trial Tournament in 2007 and the All-Region Attorney for the American Mock Trial Association's South Atlantic Regional Tournament in 2008.
As a member of Chi Omega sorority, she has served on Sorority Council and held other leadership roles in the Greek community. She has been a volunteer, mentor and tutor at the Waverly Center and St. Lawrence Place and served with the Lost Sheep Homeless Ministry and the Public Defender's Community Law Office, both in Knoxville, Tenn. A law clerk for the Public Defender of Richland County, Seals has been a counselor for Girls State and Girls Nation, a mentor for the Killian Elementary HOSTS Reading Program and an English teacher and English Club sponsor at the Lycee Lamine Gueye in Senegal.
Seals also received a research award at the university's Discovery Day in 2005 and the Outstanding New Student Leader Award and the Hortense-Skelton English Award, both for 2004 - 05.
"Throughout my time at Carolina, I have sought to be the embodiment of the ideals expressed by the Carolinian Creed - personifying integrity, selflessness, and inclusiveness," Seals wrote in her award application. "The sum of my experiences - six months in a developing world, a lifetime in the American South, 131 credit hours, and innumerable hours learning outside the classroom - forged a tenacious and purposeful character. My character, in turn, led me down a path of service to others, including members of the university community."