Meet the 2019 Tropaia Award Winners
May 17, 2019 — Georgetown College gathered to honor 39 exceptional seniors today at the annual Tropaia ceremony in Gaston Hall. Get to know the Cohonguroton speaker, Julie Bevilacqua, as well as three winners of major academic awards.
Julie Bevilacqua (C’19) delivered the Cohonguroton Address, delivered each year by a senior who has excelled in academics through their time at Georgetown.
A biology major with a pre-medical concentration, Bevilacqua has excelled in the classroom, maintaining a 4.0 GPA despite a rigorous class schedule.
But her impact on academics at Georgetown goes far beyond the classroom. Bevilacqua has conducted microbiology field research across the world alongside Professor Sarah Stewart Johnson, made an oral presentation at a major academic conference, and earned rave reviews as a teaching assistant for introductory and intermediate courses.
“Julie exemplifies the attributes of the best of our scholars,” Professor Anne Rosenwald wrote in her nomination letter. “She makes our jobs as teachers easier because she is a such a great teacher herself.”
In her speech, Bevilacqua focused on themes of risk-taking and intellectual curiosity, citing her experience spelunking in a dark cave as part of her field research.
“Georgetown has offered us the support and the opportunity to push ourselves beyond our limits—to take intellectual risks, to be brave, to be unafraid of failure,” she said. “My favorite part about Georgetown is the way our community moves forward, into and through the unknown, with curiosity and not fear.”
Luis Gonzalez (C’19) received the Coakley Medal, awarded annually to a College senior who “manifested above all others the qualities of loving service, honor, and courage in all facets of college life.”
A first-generation college student and member of an undocumented immigrant family, Luis has made his presence felt in the Georgetown community since he arrived on the Hilltop. He has served in leadership roles in the Georgetown Scholarship Program, Hoya Saxa Weekend, and Leaders in Education about Diversity. His activism helped inspire the university to ramp up resources for undocumented students, and Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin (F’66, L’69) brought his story to the floors of Congress.
Gonzalez majored in American studies and double-minored in government and education, inquiry, and justice, excelling in the classroom throughout his career. He will be returning to California next year to pursue a master’s degree in education at Stanford University — the next step toward his long-held dream of becoming a high school teacher.
“Luis is humble, honest, smart, hard-working, talented and brave,” wrote sociology professor Sarah Stiles, who taught him as a freshman. “He epitomizes the Jesuit ideals Georgetown stands for. He walks the talk.”
Theresa Werick received the Katherine Kraft Medal, awarded to a student who “best manifests a spirit of humility, cooperation, and commitment as a woman or man for others in all facets of college life.”
An anthropology major, Werick has placed the fight for racial justice at the core of her academic research and co-curricular activism. She attended regular meetings of multiple local organizations — some with predominantly white memberships, and others majority black — all dedicated to promoting racial justice in the area.
Her senior ethnographic fieldwork project used this experience to create a nuanced reflection on the role and limitations of majority-white groups in advocating for racially just policies.
“I feel that Tracy’s work for social justice has just gotten started,” wrote anthropology professor Sylvia Önder, “She will take what she has learned and experienced at Georgetown far into the future for the benefit of many.”
Werick, who has interned in refugee service bureaus and serves as a coordinator in the CSJ’s Homelessness Outreach, Meals, and Education Program, also received the 2019 Lena Landegger Community Service Award.
Sydnie Sousa (C’19) received the Louis McCahill Award, presented to a student who “has demonstrated perseverance and determination of a high order in pursuing his or her educational objectives.”
Sousa, a first-generation college student and transfer from community college, grew up on a farm in California’s San Joaquin Valley. She stood out immediately in class upon arriving at Georgetown, leading class discussions and maintaining high grades throughout her Hilltop career.
“Sydnie embodies the generous, mature spirit I most like to see in my students,” said history professor Katie Benton-Cohen. “She meets every deadline, and she shows empathy in her reading of the lives of migrant children 80 years ago.”
A history major who sought to connect her life experience to her studies, Sousa hoped to write her honors thesis on the history of migrant agricultural workers in California. Upon recognizing limitations in the records — and writing eloquently about it — she chose to focus specifically on the education of migrant children during the Dust Bowl.
Sousa will spend next year on a Stanford University fellowship that will allow her to conduct ethnographic research on rural poverty.
The Edward B. Bunn Award for Faculty Excellence is given annually to a faculty member chosen by the senior class. This year’s winner is Professor Sarah Stiles of the Department of Sociology.
Below is a list of all students to receive academic awards at today’s Tropaia ceremony. Congratulations to them and all our graduates!
— Patrick Curran