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Furman celebrates beginning of school year with convocation

President Elizabeth Davis remarks

Dean of Faculty Ken Peterson convocation address

Furman University awarded the Richard Furman Baptist Heritage Award to alum Dr. Nancy Powers ’77 and introduced the five seniors who were named Furman Fellows during the school’s fall convocation Thursday in McAlister Auditorium.

Dr. Nancy Powers received the Richard Furman Baptist Heritage Award from President Elizabeth Davis.

Furman president Elizabeth Davis welcomed the freshman class, and Ken Peterson, Furman’s Dean of the Faculty and Professor of Economics, delivered the convocation address.

The university also recognized three individuals who received special honors at Furman’s May commencement. Furman Politics and International Affairs Professor Akan Malici received the Faculty Meritorious Award for Diversity & Inclusion, while the Staff Meritorious Award for Diversity & Inclusion was presented to Mike Winiski, Interim Executive Director of Community Engagement. Emma Zyriek, a 2017 Furman graduate, received the Rosa Mary Bodkin Award.

The five seniors named Furman Fellows for the 2017-18 school year are Maria Bartlett of Greenville, Logan Richardson of Elgin, Christina Sturgeon of Potomac, Md., Emma Winiski of Greenville, and Noah Zimmermann of Camden.

More information about the award winners are below.

Richard Furman Baptist Heritage Award

Nancy R. Powers, M.D.

A 1977 graduate of Furman University, Dr. Nancy Powers has dedicated her life as a pediatric physician to serving children whose bodies and minds need care.

Upon graduating from Furman, Nancy attended the Bowman Gray School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, earning her Doctor of Medicine. She went on to complete a residency in pediatrics at Baptist Hospital in Winston-Salem, and became a fellow in developmental-behavioral pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital of the Ohio State University. She has held faculty appointments at the University of North Carolina, Asheville, the Ohio State University, and Greenville Hospital University Medical Center. She has served as a developmental-behavioral pediatrician with the Greenville Health System since 1997.

Ken Peterson, Dean of the Faculty, gave the convocation address.

It is, however, her compassion for and commitment to the most vulnerable among us, through her work in the creation of the South Carolina Medical-Legal Partnership, that Nancy embodies Furman’s founding ideals. In 2012, Nancy and others recognized the need for better identification of health-harming civil legal barriers and the social determinants of health that low-income patients must grapple with every day. Nancy oversaw the writing of the first documents that proposed creating a medical-legal partnership in Greenville that coordinates and streamlines access to non-medical assistance when a medical problem has roots in or is made worse by a social or legal problem, and she has been a tireless advocate for this work since.

The South Carolina MLP is the first one of nearly 300 in the country that also partners with an undergraduate institution, Nancy’s alma mater, Furman University, to support students who are considering careers in medicine, law, or social services. The collaborative and innovative partnership between legal aid, Greenville Heath System, and Furman has resulted in improved health outcomes through direct and targeted legal interventions stemming from Nancy’s dedicated work.

Nancy Powers, your leadership and creativity in crossing traditional institutional boundaries has improved the health and well-being of countless lives in South Carolina. For your compassion for the children and families you serve daily, your devotion to the most vulnerable members of our community, and your work to connect student learning with making the world a better place, Furman University is proud to recognize you with the 2017 Richard Furman Baptist Heritage Award.

Furman Fellows, Class of 2018

Maria Bartlett of Greenville, South Carolina, is a double major in Spanish and applied mathematics and takes advantage of every educational opportunity at Furman with spirit, drive and uncommon curiosity. Demonstrating bright intellect and strong academic skills, Maria has a unique combination of talent, strong work ethic, creativity, personality and a dedication to service. Through study abroad experiences in both Ireland and Spain, she has developed the ability to negotiate cultures and to relate to people different from herself. She has a deep awareness of how local social issues connect to global ones. Known for her spirit of service, Maria has assisted at Neighborhood Focus, a non-profit afterschool program that serves under-resourced families in the White Horse Corridor of Greenville. Maria brings creativity and imagination to everything she does, possesses distinctive problem-solving abilities and is respected by faculty and her peers.

Logan Richardson, from Elgin, South Carolina, is a sustainability science and economics double major. As a result of her strong academics and dedication to her discipline, Logan understands the challenges facing society and seeks to achieve a world that lives within the sustainable threshold of our planet. Working to promote environmental sustainability on campus and in the Greenville community, Logan is a driven and accomplished sustainability leader with a passion for people, community and service. She has contributed extensively to the Environmental Engaged Living program as a participant and residence hall counselor and was awarded the university’s Engaged Living Excellence Award and the Outstanding Achievement in First-Year Advising Award. She has also held multiple leadership positions in the student Environmental Action Group. Serving as a Shi Center Assessment Fellow since 2014, Logan has championed Furman’s carbon neutrality commitment and helped to advance the university’s reputation as a national leader in sustainability.

Christina Sturgeon of Potomac, Maryland, is a philosophy major. A tireless worker with a passion for community outreach, Christina leads by example. She has dedicated her time and energy to improving the lives of the elderly and those with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Christina founded the Adopt-a-Grandparent program, now known as Intergeneration Nation, which matches university students with residents of The Woodlands at Furman. She also introduced the Snowball, a holiday party for Woodlands residents. In addition, Christina is the founder and president of a Best Buddies chapter in Greenville. This non-profit organization is dedicated to ending the social, physical and economic isolation of those with intellectual and developmental disabilities by pairing high school and college students with community buddies who are intellectually or developmentally challenged. She also participates in the Furman PalaTHON, an annual event that benefits the Children’s Miracle Network and is the co-director of community service of Zeta Tau Alpha.

Emma Winiski is a mathematics-economics major from Greenville, South Carolina. Called both fearless and compassionate, Emma has a strong interest in public health and social justice and is passionate about alleviating poverty and improving public health outcomes. In May, 2016, Emma designed and facilitated a public-visioning process in the New Washington Heights community of Greenville where she worked directly with community members and other key stakeholders to develop a vision that will be used to shape policy in Greenville County. Emma has also explored how racial and socioeconomic diversity in South Carolina elementary schools impact student performance. Her belief in the need for interdisciplinary solutions to these problems has led to Emma’s challenging and unique curriculum. In addition to excelling at her studies, Emma has also made a difference in the lives of others in the Greenville community by working on several community engagement initiatives including LiveWell Greenville, the Poverty Awareness Committee and the Community Engaged Initiative in which she served a leadership role.

Noah Zimmermann, a philosophy and politics and international affairs double major with a minor in poverty studies, is from Camden, South Carolina. He leads and inspires others through a combination of determination, tenacity and empathy. Noah is passionate about making a difference in the lives of those who have been marginalized by conflict, war and other circumstances. To this end, he has served as a refugee resettlement intern with Catholic Charities in Charlotte, North Carolina. There, Noah helped refugees apply for jobs, qualify for benefits and enroll in cultural orientation classes. He has met with peacemaking organizations including Musahala in Jerusalem and the Corrymeela Community in Belfast, Ireland. A highly effective problem solver known for his imaginative and innovative approach to policy formation, enactment and enforcement, Noah participates in many campus and community initiatives that reflect his passion for improving the welfare of others. In his role as president of Furman’s Poverty Awareness Committee Noah helped educate Furman constituencies about the plight of homeless families in Greenville and organized and facilitated a first-of-its-kind Poverty Awareness Week on campus. He is president of the Furman Catholic Campus Ministry, serves as an admission ambassador, is active in the Heller Service Corps and participates in Men of Distinction, a tutoring and mentoring initiative for boys at Berea Middle School.

Last updated September 7, 2017
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Clinton Colmenares
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