University of Delaware seniors Ryan
Leonard and Brielle Gerry have been selected as the recipients of the
Alexander J. Taylor Sr. and Emalea Pusey Warner awards, respectively, as
the outstanding man and woman of the 2014 graduating class.
The awards are given annually by the UD Alumni Association to
recognize seniors, a man and woman, who most exemplify leadership,
academic success and community service.
Emalea Pusey Warner Award recipient Brielle Gerry, of Hillsborough,
New Jersey, is an Honors Program student and double major in
neuroscience and Spanish studies with a minor in applied music in piano
and biological sciences.
Her areas of academic interest include participating in under
graduate research since her sophomore year and studying the effects of
fetal alcohol syndrome in the laboratory of Anna Klintsova, associate
professor of psychology. She is a Writing Fellow assigned to Honors
colloquia and research assistant in the Infant Caregiver Laboratory.
Gerry, who holds a 3.87 grade point average (GPA), has earned the
General Honors Award, which recognizes Honors coursework completed in
the first two years at the University. She served as an Honors Peer
Advisor, helping welcome and orient over 400 Honors freshman. She has
served as a Russell Fellow, a Blue Hen Ambassador, a Student Alumni
Ambassador and a tutor with the NUCLEUS program, and is a talented and
President of the co-ed premedical fraternity Phi Delta Epsilon, she
helped rebuild the chapter by fundraising and increased member
participation. In February the fraternity received a Chapter Excellence
Award for those efforts. Other awards include University of Delaware
Woman of Promise, University Honors Enrichment Award and University
Student of Distinction. She also is a Dean’s List student.
Kristin Bennighoff, senior associate director with the Honors Program
who nominated Gerry, wrote, “Brie Gerry continues the tradition of
strong women like Mrs. Warner -- women who are leaders at the University
of Delaware and in the community.”
Susan McKenna, associate professor of Spanish, said, “Brie is a rare
example of the undergraduate student who excels at everything she does.”
Alexander J. Taylor Sr. Award Recipient Ryan Leonard, of Dover,
Delaware, a Charles L. Hebner Memorial Scholarship recipient, will earn
an Honors Degree this spring with majors in political science and
history and a minor in Islamic studies with Arabic language. With his
grade point average of 3.897, Leonard ranks in the top 4 percent in his
In addition, Leonard received a General Honors Award, which
recognizes Honors coursework completed in the first two years at the
University, an Honors Enrichment Award and an Alumni Enrichment Award,
and was a Marshall Scholarship finalist. Leonard was selected as one of
63 Harry S. Truman Scholars; he is the 12th Truman Scholar from the
University of Delaware since 1990 and the first since 2009.
He has made significant contributions to UD through his leadership in
several organizations. One example is his revival of UD's Mock Trial
chapter, which has been so successful that it was selected by the
American Mock Trial Association to host its regional tournament this
Leonard has also been a leader in the Honors Program as a Writing
Fellow, helping freshmen as a peer writing tutor. He is currently a
Senior Writing Fellow, supervising 16 of his peers in the program.
He has been involved in Delaware politics since high school when he
worked on the gubernatorial campaign of current Gov. Jack Markell. While
at UD, he continued his work with Markell as a staff intern.
Leonard’s interests moved beyond state politics to the Middle East
after a UD study abroad trip to Tunisia. This past summer, he traveled
to Amman, Jordan, to work as the first-ever intern for a start-up
non-governmental organization (NGO) called Think Unlimited.
Bennighoff, who nominated Leonard, said, “Ryan exemplifies the
academic achievement, leadership, and service qualities worthy of Mr.
Taylor and this prestigious award.”
James Magee, Judge Hugh M. Morris Professor of Political Science and
International Relations, wrote, “Ryan is that rare, humble,
"honest-to-goodness" refined young man of unimpeachable integrity and
About the awards
Alexander J. Taylor Sr. (1875-1940) entered Delaware College in 1889
and graduated in 1893 as class valedictorian, with a baccalaureate
degree in civil engineering. Mr. Taylor was elected to the Board of
Trustees in 1927, reelected in 1932 and again in 1938. He served on the
Grounds and Buildings Committee and Executive Committee and was chairman
of the Finance Committee.
Emalea Pusey Warner (1853-1948) is best remembered on the University
of Delaware campus as a champion of education. In 1911, she became
chairperson of the State Federation of Women's Clubs' Committee on
Education and worked diligently toward the specific goal of establishing
a state-supported women's college. In 1914, she was appointed
chairperson of the Advisory Council of the Women's College and later
became the first woman member of the Delaware College Board of Trustees.
Both Warner Hall on the UD campus and Warner Elementary School in
Wilmington are named in her honor.
The Warner Award was first given in 1950, while the Taylor award debuted in 1968.
Recipients are recognized with a $2,500 scholarship, are honored at a
luncheon and lead the alumni delegates’ procession at Commencement,
which this year will be held Saturday, May 31, at Delaware Stadium.
About the UD Alumni Association
All University of Delaware graduates are automatically granted
membership in the UD Alumni Association (UDAA) upon graduation and are
inducted with a pinning ceremony at Commencement. The UDAA is proudly
dedicated to engaging the entire alumni community by fostering a
tradition of lifelong loyalty and commitment to the University.
The UDAA provides exceptional value and ongoing support to alumni
worldwide by expanding benefits available to alumni, supporting regional
and affinity club events, recognizing alumni and their accomplishments