L-r: Founder's Medal winners Scott Brown, Nancy Lancaster, Tory Hodges Lewis, Brenessa Lindeman, Kathryn Moreadith, Meredith Sellers, Myrick Shinall Jr., Arunan Skandarajah and Justin Steiner.
Nine graduates at the top of their respective Vanderbilt schools were recognized in a tradition dating back to the university's founding
by Princine Lewis
photo by John Russell
Nine graduates at the top of their respective Vanderbilt schools received special recognition during the university’s main Commencement ceremony on May 8.
Since 1877, a gold medal has been awarded to the student graduating at the top of his or her class from each of Vanderbilt’s schools. These gold medals are called Founder’s Medals in honor of university founder Cornelius Vanderbilt, who made a specific contribution to endow the awards in their first year.
Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos presented the 2009 Founder’s Medals to the following students:
Scott Brown, Founder’s Medalist for the Peabody College of education and human development, graduated with a double major in human and organizational development and economics and a minor in financial economics. Brown will remain at Vanderbilt for the coming academic year to pursue a master’s degree in community development and action at Peabody.
Nancy Lancaster, Founder’s Medalist for the School of Nursing, graduated with a master of science in nursing. After completing her course of study at Vanderbilt in August 2008, she began work in a community hospital in Chicago, where she fulfilled the requirements of a nurse residency program and now serves as a member of the intensive care unit nursing team.
Tory Hodges Lewis, Founder’s Medalist for Vanderbilt Law School, graduated with a doctor of jurisprudence. After graduation, Lewis will serve as a law clerk to the Honorable Leon Holmes of the Eastern District of Arkansas.
Brenessa Michelle Lindeman, Founder’s Medalist for the School of Medicine, graduated with a doctor of medicine degree. Lindeman will do her residency in general surgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.
Kathryn Moreadith, Founder’s Medalist for Blair School of Music, graduated with a bachelor of music with a double major in music composition/theory and East Asian Studies and a double minor in piano performance and Chinese. Moreadith will embark on a year of travel and study after graduation as winner of Vanderbilt’s Michael B. Keegan Traveling Fellowship. During the year she will pursue collaborative musical composition in China, Egypt, the United Kingdom, India and places yet to be decided.
Meredith Sellers, Founder’s Medalist for the College of Arts and Science, graduated with a bachelor of arts with a double major in anthropology and biological sciences. Sellers was accepted to Vanderbilt’s School of Medicine as a sophomore through a competitive early acceptance program and is eager to pursue her interests in health, culture and research as a medical student.
Myrick Clements Shinall Jr., Founder’s Medalist for the Divinity School, is the first student in the history of Vanderbilt to earn, concurrently, the master of divinity and the doctor of medicine degrees. Following graduation, he will begin his residency in general surgery at Vanderbilt University Medical Center while continuing to serve the United Methodist Church as a certified candidate for ordination.
Arunan Skandarajah, Founder’s Medalist for the School of Engineering, graduated with a bachelor of engineering in biomedical engineering. Skandarajah plans to continue the graduate studies he began as an undergraduate, completing a research-based master’s degree in biomedical engineering by August 2009. This fall, he will begin a doctoral degree in bioengineering at the University of California-Berkeley, where he hopes to design diagnostic devices for applications in global health.
Justin Steiner, Founder’s Medalist for the Owen Graduate School of Management, graduated with a master of business administration. Steiner has accepted a position with North Highland Company, a consulting firm, in their Nashville office and will remain in the city after graduation.