Several awards are presented annually to graduates, staff and faculty members during William & Mary’s Commencement weekend. Below is a list of the awards that were presented during this year’s ceremonies on May 20 and 21. – Ed

The Lord Botetourt Medal 

The Lord Botetourt Medal is presented each year to the undergraduate student who has most distinguished him or herself in scholarship during their time at William & Mary. In 2022, this honor is awarded to Sumié Aileen Yotsukura ’22. 

An Asian & Pacific Islander American studies and theater double major, Yotsukura frequently worked on shows with the theatre department, consulted at the Writing Resources Center and was a member of the Asian American Student Initiative. Yotsukura performed for three years and later served as director of Sinfonicron, a student-run theatre company that produces annual musicals and light operas. She was also president of the Theatre Students Association and vice president of Alpha Psi Omega. 

This spring, Sumié presented “Your Best (Asian) American Girl” at the Williamsburg Regional Library Theater as part of her senior thesis. The cabaret chronicled her journey grappling with her identity as a biracial, third-generation Japanese American. Through music and monologues, Sumié displayed her skills in musical theater while exploring complex issues of identity and culture. 

After writing a paper on using Title VII of the Civil Rights Act to protect the rights on Asian American actors and actresses in Hollywood, Yotsukura was invited to work on a research project for the Asian Centennial at William & Mary. 

Amongst her major finds in the W&M archives, Yotsukura discovered an article written by P.K. Chen, a 1923 graduate and the first student of Asian ancestry to attend the university. From this discovery, Yotsukura built an exhibit that is now on display in Swem Library as a way to open conversations on the continuing issues of racial discrimination that students of Asian ancestry face, and on mental health, a topic P.K. Chen wrote about nearly 100 years ago that continues to resonate for the Asian ancestry community today.

James Frederic Carr Memorial Cup

The James Frederic Carr Memorial Cup was established in honor of a William & Mary student who served with distinction in the First World War and lost his life before he could return to graduate. The award recognizes the student who best exemplifies character, scholarship and leadership.

This year’s recipient was Caroline Morin ’22.

Morin distinguished herself as a senior program manager for the Geospatial Evaluation and Observation Lab, overseeing 17 other undergraduate researchers on the geoLab’s geoParsing team, according to the award citation. Highly dedicated to her studies, Morin graduated with a Bachelor of Arts with a double major in international relations and history. Her colleagues commended her for being passionate about her work and highly organized, noting that she “never misses the mark when it comes to the smallest details.”

Morin is the published author of numerous papers that have appeared on the front page of the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency’s Tearline website, according to the citation. Her data-driven papers have ranged from the environmental impact of Russian mining in Central Africa to emerging industrial parks in China. She has also engaged in development work in Laos, Ecuador and Spain. Morin also dedicated much of her time to blockchain research, teaching a blockchain regulation course and publishing in peer-reviewed journals.

For helping to ensure inclusivity in the 2021 Yule Log celebration while vice president of the Eta circle of Omicron Delta Kappa, and for promoting diversity as a research lead for geoLab, Morin was one of two students recognized as Diversity Champions in April 2022 by the W&M Office of Diversity & Inclusion.

Student nominators described Morin’s commitment to leading and nurturing her teams, facilitating the open sharing of ideas, encouraging diverse perspectives and graciously promoting critical thinking and debate. In recognizing her leadership, a fellow student wrote: “Caroline has taught me the limitless value of making others feel valued.”

Nominators commended Morin for the intention she brings to mentorship, her compassion and her drive to help others succeed. In describing her, peers praised her for demonstrating heart, mind and conduct that shows true compassion for others.

Thatcher Prize for Excellence in Graduate and Professional Study 

The Thatcher Prize was created in honor of the 21st chancellor of William & Mary and is presented annually to recognize an outstanding student in graduate or professional study. The winner is selected on the basis of scholarship, leadership, character and service. This year’s recipient is Robert Clay Thompson Jr. Ph.D. ’22.

A veteran of the U.S. Army, Thompson worked as a graduate assistant in the Troops to Teachers program and has served as a liaison and recruiter to veterans who may have an interest in education or counseling. As a contributor to Student Veterans of William & Mary, Thompson worked to improve the alignment of resources serving veterans across the university. 

During his time as a graduate student, Thompson undertook research into the needs of student veterans and factors influencing their success in higher education, a field with limited existing study. He completed his Ph.D. and successfully defended his dissertation, “Student Veterans: A Quantitative Examination of Provided Resources and their Effect on Success,” in only three years. 

“Rob’s work has the potential to meaningfully impact practice in higher education in a way that will have tangible positive impacts on a population that is underserved,” one nominator wrote. 

Throughout his nominations, Thompson’s colleagues commended his intellect, strength of character and artistry in civil discourse as a representative of a servant leader. Another nominator wrote: “He is an educator in every sense of the word: dedicated to assuring that his students are learning at a deep level and applying their understanding towards real-world products and authentic audiences.” 

The Thomas Ashley Graves Jr. Award For Sustained Excellence in Teaching 

The Thomas Ashley Graves Jr. Award is named for the university’s 23rd president, and recipients are selected annually by the president of the university from nominations submitted by each of the academic deans. This year’s recipients were Eric A. Kades, Thomas Jefferson Professor of Law, and Qian Su, senior lecturer of Chinese studies. 

Eric A. Kades

No stranger to awards throughout his time teaching, Kades has often been cited for his drive for innovation and improvement. 

As vice dean of the William & Mary Law School from 2008 to 2011, Kades reviewed teaching evaluations, mentored junior faculty, studied the empirical literature on teaching and learned about new techniques from colleagues. He said it was eye-opening for him, as he realized that even an accomplished teacher had much to learn and room to improve.  

Shortly after his tenure as vice dean, Kades held the Kelly Professorship for Teaching Excellence, delivering presentations on pedagogy to the entire faculty. Years later, he remains a valuable resource for teaching advice, whether to overcome a classroom problem or to adapt new techniques. 

True to his philosophy of innovation and improvement, Kades continues to adopt new practices in the classroom. Based on evidence about attention spans, he switches between modes of instruction through carefully choreographed classes, deploying Socratic questioning, lectures, short video clips to illustrate points, animated slides and polling.  

With tablet computers installed in classrooms during the pandemic, he annotates slides during class, giving students an electronic record of notes. He further encourages engagement in large classes by programming small-group gatherings over pizza or donuts. Two years ago, a committee of law faculty, alumni and students honored him with another teaching award, the McGlothlin Faculty Teaching Award.

Qian Su

Throughout her 15 years at William & Mary, Su has contributed to the growth and success of the university’s Chinese studies program while helping launch the careers of many students who now work around the world in academia, government service and the international business sector. 

Teaching a notoriously difficult language for adult learners, Su invites new learners through high quality, rigorous instruction. Su’s intermediate courses have retained roughly 90% of their enrollments over the last four years, and a high percentage of her students continue into upper-level courses. 

“One of Professor Su’s greatest strengths is that she balances so well her high expectations for the students and their potential to learn,” one student nominator wrote. 

Su has led W&M’s study-abroad program in Beijing four times and has committed to leading it again when travel restrictions ease. A crucial component of the Chinese studies major, this study-abroad program lasts seven-and-a-half weeks, making it the longest faculty-led summer program offered at William & Mary. It also requires students to complete eight credits of language instruction and take a three-credit, site-based culture course introducing them to Beijing. 

Su has also served as president of the Chinese Language Teachers Association of Virginia since 2021. In this role she works to improve K-12 instruction across the commonwealth. 

Algernon Sydney Sullivan Awards (students)

The Sullivan Award is in recognition of influence for good, taking into consideration such characteristics of heart, mind, conduct and demonstrating a spirit of love and helpfulness to others. It is awarded each year to two individuals from the graduating student body and to a third person who has a close relationship to the university. This year’s student recipients were Calvin Kim ’22 and Taylor Young-Wells ’22.

A double major in sociology and Asian and Pacific Islander American studies, Kim excels in scholarship and service with an energized spirit of positivity, according to the award citation. Kim “does not just like his classes, he loves his field of study and throws his all into it,” a fellow student wrote.

Through his exceptional academic record and impassioned application, Kim was chosen as a Freeman Fellow as a sophomore. This fellowship would have permitted him to complete an internship in Asia, if COVID-19 had not made travel impossible. Kim persisted in his applications and was offered an internship with the 1882 Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to broadening public awareness of the history and continuing significance of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.

On campus, Kim embodies the role of host, welcoming and guiding countless students, according to the citation. He served as an Orientation Aide, an Orientation Area Director and a senior interviewer in the Office of Undergraduate Admission. After joining the Asian American Student Initiative in his sophomore year, Kim served as secretary, co-director and alumni outreach chair. A member of the all-gender service fraternity Alpha Phi Omega, Kim volunteered on campus and in the surrounding community.

A nominator wrote: “Not only is Calvin gracious in his work as a volunteer, but he applies these traits of heart and thoughtfulness into his everyday life. He has opened his home to those who needed it and is always willing to talk if someone has asked for guidance. Calvin’s time and effort have made this school a home for so many in ways no one else in our graduating class could.”

Young-Wells is recognized by her fellow students and professors for her grace, compassion and intellectual rigor. A sociology major passionate about understanding the intersectionality of race, gender, sexuality and socioeconomics, Young-Wells graduated from W&M with a Bachelor of Arts and will enter Fordham Law School in the fall.

Young-Well’s career aspirations were sparked by her experiences working at her local Burger King, according to the citation. She became passionate about addressing the daily hardships her co-workers faced. She plans to become an immigration lawyer and advocate for undocumented and documented immigrants in the U.S.

As an intern with the York-James City-Williamsburg NAACP branch for two semesters, Young-Wells contributed fresh ideas to membership, scholarship and branding. In addition to fostering relationships with branch leaders, she led the scholarship program. Her colleagues appreciated greatly how she went above and beyond to ensure that all local schools, churches and community leaders received scholarship applications, helping to increase the pool of potential award recipients, according to the citation.

Her peers recognize Young-Wells as an incredible friend, leader and scholar, according to the citation. As a resident assistant for three years, she hosted three events per month to facilitate friendships amongst the freshmen under her guidance. As the president of the honor fraternity Phi Sigma Pi, Young-Wells led the chapter through complex challenges during the pandemic, according to the citation. A fellow student wrote: “She reaches out to people just for the sake of checking up on them, which was really valuable during the pandemic. She has been a rock for her friends who have gone through mental health crises.”

Algernon Sydney Sullivan Awards (non-student)

Liz Cascone was this year’s non-student recipient of the Sullivan Award.

Cascone is a steadfast advocate and confidential supporter for students, staff and alumni who have experienced issues of sexual assault and relationship violence, according to the award citation. This includes effectively and compassionately adapting W&M policies and practices in response to national and state legislation and student needs.

Cascone’s unwavering focus is on improving the recovery process for survivors, according to the citation. That role involved leading the development and implementation of alternative resolutions for student survivors of campus sexual assault, relationship violence, stalking and sexual harassment. Sensing a need for a range of resolution processes for survivors, Cascone participated in national training for restorative justice, a process by which offenders can recognize their accountability, address the harms caused and support the needs of the survivor.

In response to students’ desire for more options for misconduct adjudication, Cascone developed a new policy of Adaptable Resolution. Adaptable Resolution is grounded in restorative justice. The process provides a less formal resolution than investigations and hearings and takes an educational approach. Adaptable Resolution provides survivors with more choices for adjudication, thereby offering them more means to regain control.

Though often quiet and unseen, Cascone’s work is life-changing for members of the W&M community, according to the citation. Cascone goes above and beyond to provide support and resources to survivors, even after investigations close, Cascone also provides confidential support and guidance to colleagues who report sexual misconduct or whose children have experienced sexual misconduct at other institutions and for alumni who experienced misconduct on campus years ago.

Cascone is trusted by students, faculty and staff alike, reassuring all when they need it the most, according to the citation. In becoming the person whom W&M community members turn to for confidential support in times of trauma, confusion and vulnerability, Cascone has had a profound influence on the W&M community.

, University News & Media