Student Awards 2021

We usually celebrate our students in our Spring Awards Banquet at Brock’s Riverside Grill. In 2021 (as in 2020) we presented awards virtually – not the same, but no less important! Read on to learn about our awardees:

James B. Gouger III Award Photograph of Elizabeth Devine.

Presented to the student who excels in geographic techniques.

The winner of this award is Elizabeth Devine ’21. Beth is earning a Certificate in GIS and has taken every course offered. In addition, she has used other geographic techniques in her research, including developing her cartography skills as part of a team creating maps for a hiking guide-book and UMW’s Accessibility Map of campus. She learned to conduct surveys and document guided tours as part of a team gauging visitor responses to representations of enslavement at US Presidential sites. Upon graduation, Beth will work as a Cartographer at a US government agency.

Richard P. Palmieri Award for Excellence in Geography

Given to a non-senior Geography major who demonstrates excellence in his or her introductory and upper-level courses.

The winner of this award is Ellie Heil ’22. Ellie took Introduction to Human Geography in her first semester of college and was recruited into Geographic Thinking the following spring. She has since loaded up on Geography classes and excelled. Ellie has broad interests across cultural, urban and political geography. She is also a captain of the ultimate Frisbee team and she can layout fearlessly.



Meriwether Lewis and William Clark Award

Given to the graduating Geography Major with the highest grade point average in Geography courses.

The winners of this award are Elizabeth Devine & Alex Chrvala, ’21. Beth and Alex earned (near) perfect GPAs during their time at UMW. Each took a broad range of challenging courses in both human and physical geography while also completing their GISC certificates.


Geospatial Technologies Award

In Recognition of the GISc Certificate student who has excelled in all certificate courses and who has contributed to the success of others in the program.

The winner of this award is Alex Chrvala, ’21. Alex came to Mary Washington intent on majoring in geography and pursuing his interest in Geographic Information Systems. He has excelled in a variety of geospatial technologies, completed his capstone project last summer, and as a Department Aide routinely tutors his peers. He has interned for a government agency for the last three years and will move into a permanent position this summer.


Geography Alumni Scholarship

Granted to a rising junior or senior Geography major who demonstrates both excellence and a commitment to their achievement and contributions to the department.

The winner of this award is Keelin O’Hara, ’22. Keelin is highly motivated and an independent thinker which is evidenced by her successes both within and beyond the classroom. She is working with climate data and modeling, and has interned with the EPA. In addition, she works as an aide in the department and routinely helps with a variety of admissions events where she encourages new students to explore Geography, and she is active in the Geography Club.

Outstanding Student in Master of Science in Geospatial Analysis Award

Presented to a graduating MSGA student who demonstrates excellence in his or her master’s level courses.

The winner of this award is Jessica Towell, ’21. A highly self-motivated person, Jessica earned a 3.92 GPA in her graduate courses. Her impressive, high-quality capstone project–developing a Web GIS for the planning and operations of search and rescue missions–perfectly combines the MSGA curriculum content, cutting-edge technology, her personal experience in search-and-rescue missions, and the great value of practical applications.

Harold Thompson Straw Award

Presented to the student who exhibits the most professional potential for scholarly contribution in Geography.

The winner of this award is Madeline Young, ’21. Madeline transferred to UMW from Shenandoah University in Spring 2019 with a rare intentional plan to major in Geography. After two and a half years of full course loads, internships, and campus activities, she is graduating with a major in Geography and certificate in GIS. This coming Fall, she will be starting grad school at her number one choice, the University College of London’s MSc program in Remote Sensing and Environmental mapping.

National Council for Geographic Education Excellence of Scholarship Award

Presented to the student who has an enthusiasm for and commitment to Geography.

The winner of this award is Lance Whitesel, ’21. Lance discovered Geography half-way through his college career and has excelled in class in physical geography, GIS, and development. He exhibits his enthusiasm for the discipline by getting outside in the environment and sharing his passion for Geography with other students.