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Laramie’s Harris Among Spitaleri Award Nominees at UW

May 13, 2015
head portrait of woman
McKensie Harris

McKensie Harris, an animal and veterinary sciences major from Laramie, was among five finalists for the Rosemarie Martha Spitaleri Award as the University of Wyoming's outstanding graduating woman.

Callie Berman, of Boulder, Colo., was this year’s Rosemarie Martha Spitaleri Award recipient, and Josh Messer, of Cheyenne, received the Tobin Award, honoring the outstanding graduating man.

The Spitaleri award, established in 1964, recognizes students for exhibiting the finest leadership, academic integrity and citizenship qualities. Other finalists were Molly Markow, Loveland, Colo.; Lindsay White, Douglas; and Hannah Young, Cheyenne. Students were honored at a recent luncheon.

To be considered for the Spitaleri and Tobin awards, students were judged on academic excellence and achievement; contributions and service to UW; participation and leadership in co-curricular activities; and demonstrated character and citizenship.

“I have been successful academically, but that is only half of what has shaped me into the person and student that I am,” Harris says. “My depth of involvement in both campus and communitywide extracurricular activities has allowed me to hone in on my natural leadership abilities.”

She adds, “In the end, I have learned that to simply go to class does not do justice for any student. The most successful students embody the mingling of scholarship and leadership to contribute to the University of Wyoming.”

Nominators wrote letters of support for each of the students.

“McKensie was a student who was on the top of every list of anyone with recruitment responsibilities. All of her extracurricular involvement takes time away from studies and often classes, making her academic achievements all the more amazing,” one person wrote. “Although it is difficult to know how she finds the time to do it, McKensie also has made time to give back to the programs that previously had enhanced her educational experiences and leadership development.”

Another said, “What really sets Ms. Harris apart from her fellow students, in my opinion, is her aspiration for excellence. ‘Settling’ is not in her nature, regardless of activity. In all of my interactions with undergraduate students at two universities, I’ve never met a student that goes that extra mile like Ms. Harris does. I am not trying to downplay her innate intelligence, but it is completely refreshing to see a student with an unquenchable inquisitiveness.”

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