James Bond-themed banquet fetes Honors students
By Ashlee Larrison
GCU News Bureau
It was an evening of dinner, awards and Bond … James Bond.
Students came dressed to the nines and ready to reconnect with their peers Wednesday for this year’s Grand Canyon University’s Honors College Banquet on the lawn next to GCU Ballpark and Antelope Gym. The event donned a James Bond theme and showcased Program Manager Joe Perez, dressed as a 007 agent, delivering envelopes containing the names of the award recipients via locked briefcase handcuffed to his wrist.
As the Honors College’s second outdoor, in-person event in the space of a few days, the banquet ended the 2020-21 academic year with a bang.
“We knew that being outside, from a health standpoint, was beneficial so we picked a space where we could have a larger capacity,” said Perez. “Everyone has really pitched in to try to get us slowly back on campus and back to normal.”
The in-person atmosphere allowed student reconnect with peers and Honors College staff. As usual, staff members praised their students.
“We’re extremely proud,” Program Manager Dennis Williams said. “It’s been a very challenging year for them, but we’ve seen so many of our students step up as leaders, step up in all these areas. This is, I think, going to be an extra special year.
“For them to push through as many of the challenges and obstacles as they have this year, for them to still choose to serve, still choose to lead and still choose to participate in the PAC program, these students have just been phenomenal.”
With so many exceptional students continuing to impress with their undeniable resilience, selecting winners for each reward category was a challenge.
“As we were sitting around as a staff, sort of discussing the nominees and the winners, it was such a difficult task,” Perez said. “It was so impressive to see all the things that they have done over this past year.”
Awards were distributed for both staff- and student-nominated categories. Despite safety measures implemented because of COVID, students in attendance were impressed with the adaptability of the event.
Madeline Landes, one of three winners of the Champion of Character Award, said the event surpassed her expectations.
“I’m a project manager for the Honors College, so I’ve been on the backside of the planning, organizing and all of that, and I am so proud and impressed by our entire team,” she said. “I’m so happy with how this event turned out and just ecstatic to be back in person.”
Williams said would not be possible without the hard work of the Student Advisory Board.
Celebrating the other award recipients made an already memorable evening that much more unforgettable.
The banquet ended with freshman Andrew Jennings being named PAC Champion and Outstanding Freshman of the Year. Both are achievements that would have made his younger self proud.
“Seeing my efforts and work that have gone into this year, seeing that be recognized is really a cool experience,” he said. “Having been a (high school) senior last year who really wanted to get involved in college, I think this has been a really cool way to see my hard work kind of go into fruition.”
For senior Sean Thomason, hearing his name announced as a winner of the the Dean’s Award left him in shock.
“It completely blindsided me,” he said. “It’s a happy resolution to an already good night.”
- Academic Excellence: Samantha Foy
- Outstanding Servant Leadership: Melissa Papulski
- Inspirational Leader: Chloe Campbell
- Outstanding Freshman of the Year: Andrew Jennings
- Outstanding Senior of the Year: Carson Foley
- Champion of Character: Amara Murray-Bell, Kendall Smith and Madeline Landes
- Distinguished Achievement: Anna Shultz, Camden Marasco, Emilee Spence, Emma Blair, Kaylor Jones and Madison Strong
- Thank You for Your Service: Aysha Bell, Christine Gannon, Dr. Jennifer Jones, Dr. Jon Valla, Kayla Koehn, Dr. Melissa Beddow and Todd Moen
- PAC Top 10 Finalists:
- Asher Cameron
- Brianna Nerio
- Jessica Kandikatla
- Madison Hartson
- Mikayla Anderson
- Oliver Boleratzky
- Riley McCaughn
- Ashley Larson: PAC Gold Finalist
- Ethan Connery: PAC Platinum Finalist
- Andrew Jennings: PAC Champion
- Dean’s Award: Sean Thomason
Contact Ashlee Larrison at (602) 639-8488 or [email protected]