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All School Student Awards 2024

Robert M. Cumnock Scholarship

Awarded to an outstanding first-year student; honors Robert M. Cumnock—a performer and teacher who believed oratory was an art, not a science—who in 1878 founded Northwestern’s School of Oratory, now the School of Communication, and was responsible for the construction of Annie May Swift Hall

Megan Gingrich

Megan is a prime example of a thoughtful and committed student. Even in a leading institution such as Northwestern, Megan stands out from other students by being constantly motivated, astute, and proactive. It is these qualities and her work ethic that contribute to immense potential and sustained excellence.

Ralph B. Dennis Scholarship

Presented to an exceptional sophomore; honors Ralph Dennis, dean of the school from 1913 until his retirement in 1942, who oversaw a period of exponential growth and whose vitality and personal style in interacting with students made the school unique

Liam Jeninga

Liam is genuine, bright, open, articulate, inventive, and generative and brings fabulous energy toward building community. Liam watches his fellow students with an artistic intelligence, participating unselfconsciously and wholeheartedly in group work and adding sage reflections. He is not a student who merely shows up and does his bit: he literally takes this work home with him and seeks ways to enhance the entire process.

James H. McBurney Scholarship

Awarded to an outstanding junior; honors James McBurney, dean of the school from 1942 to 1972, under whose leadership it achieved widespread recognition, while the school structure reinforced cohesion among its disciplines

Shai Bardin

Shai is a breakout star and has been developing a fascinating practice at the intersection of comedy and performance art. Though firmly treading in bold, even edgy territory, Shai has a commitment to ethical practice that helps to foster a safe environment for their audiences and colleagues to explore these questions in the classroom and in performance. Shai is also a leader among students and a central figure in the storied Mee-Ow Show. Faculty and peers alike know to expect great things from Shai.

Roy V. Wood Scholarship

Awarded to an outstanding senior; honors Roy Wood, dean of the school from 1972 to 1987, whose door was always open to students and whose tenure saw marked growth in the size of the school, major gains in physical facilities, and advancement in the quality of teaching, research, and creative activity

Eva Offutt

Eva is a standout as a future audiologist and engaged community member across SoC. Her professors note her maturity and the fact that she is already functioning like a doctor of audiology student. As a human communication sciences major, she is an active undergraduate research assistant in the communication studies-based ATLAS Lab, active in Dance Marathon leadership, and a grant writing mentor to other students, among multiple other volunteer and leadership positions.

Madeleine Robinson Memorial Award

Presented to a student who is active in community service; established in 1975 by the husband of Madeleine Robinson, a 1959 graduate who died at an early age and was beloved for her community activities in the Aurora, Illinois, area

Tristan Baumeister

Tristan serves as the collaborative glue for various groups of students and is a tremendously talented cinematographer and producer. His co-presidency of the Multicultural Filmmakers Collective is also impressive; he oversaw the first Studio 22/ MultiCulti end-of-the-year student film premiere—a major accomplishment that says a lot about Tristan’s work ethic as well as his interpersonal and leadership skills. He is a standout student and a leader in the RTVF community.

Zeta Phi Eta Award

Awarded to a continuing graduate student, or to an outstanding junior or senior who will remain at Northwestern to pursue a master’s degree, who has demonstrated excellence in communication arts or sciences as well as strong scholarship, exemplary character, talent, and leadership ability exemplifying the organization’s motto, “Achieve! With Wisdom, Integrity, and Love”; presented by Zeta Phi Eta, a national professional fraternity in communication arts and sciences and the oldest national group of its kind, founded at Northwestern University in 1893

Steven Yao

Steven is a very talented and hard-working cinematographer and a great contributor to class commentary and critique. He is very engaged in practices of non-western slow cinema, bringing this knowledge to class and helping others appreciate a wider understanding of narrative filmmaking. He has nuanced and sophisticated tastes accompanied by critical faculties that are always searching for the best way to accomplish his vision.

Lucia Wiant Award

Awarded to a student who has shown outstanding academic or artistic growth in the communication arts and sciences

Ariana Ferguson

Ariana personifies the type of student the dance program was developed for: thoughtful, creative, interdisciplinary, experimental and out of the box, fully engaged/embodied, caring, and committed to dance and her peers. She has blossomed into a thoughtful interlocutor about the capacious nature of dance as a world-making practice. Ariana, as most of the dance faculty agrees, “is there.” She really exemplifies what a dance major should do/know/make/think when graduating from an R1 institution that values research-led artistic practice.

Marsha P. Johnson Award

Awarded to an undergraduate or graduate student who has shown leadership and/or advanced conversations around LGBTQ+ issues through their scholarly work, teaching, or research

Julz Feit

Julz is fantastically talented: funny, dedicated, smart, and incredibly creative. They are a standout in classes with every professor due to their keen observations and sharp, brilliant commentary. Julz is also a fiercely talented cinematographer and participates at the highest level of critique. They are a genuine pleasure to have in class and an active participant in the RTVF community.

Burton and Karol Lefkowitz Prize

Awarded to an undergraduate student who has demonstrated leadership capabilities through civic engagement, community service, or other projects designed to improve society or advance social change. One recipient chosen from each of the School’s three divisions: Theatre, Dance and Performance Studies; Communication Studies and RTVF; and Communication Sciences & Disorders.

(Division I)

Kaitlyn Fields

Kaitlyn has done outstanding work in drama education. She is currently interning in the Evanston-Skokie School District 65 where she is teaching drama to middle school students. She brings light, wonder, and enthusiasm into the room. Kaitlyn is wise, thoughtful, and brave in the creative space, and she is constantly looking for ways to better the department. She isn’t afraid to challenge existing decision-making processes and power systems, and she is a tireless advocate for her peers, especially other BIPOC students in the program.

(Division II)

Jay Jeon

Though a communication studies and cognitive science double major pursuing the integrated marketing and communications certificate, Jay is engaged in the University’s theatre scene and holds such leadership positions as co-producer of the 82nd Annual Dolphin Show and business manager of WAVE Productions. Jay additionally serves as a resident assistant at the Southwest Area and as a research assistant in the ATLAS Lab. In the lab, Jay excels in developing human-AI teams, supporting space teams on missions to Mars, and conducting a meta-analysis on remote work’s impact on well-being. With her multifaceted experiences, Jay is poised to continue her trajectory as a rising star in both academia and the arts.

(Division III)

Melia McDaniel

Mel has shown exceptional promise as a researcher, clinician, and community member in the communication sciences and disorders department and broadly across Northwestern. Her lab mentor in the Early Intervention Research Group lauds her extraordinary clinical skills, which allow her to take on roles typically reserved for full-time research speech-language pathologists. She actively engages in campus activities that reflect her heritage, including as a leader in the Native American and Indigenous Student Alliance and via the Black Mentorship Program and For Members Only.