A celebration of the past and future

Emily Jolly

emjolly@ursinus.edu

     Allison Cook and Christopher Tan were recognized for their achievements on campus over Alumni Weekend with the presentation of the Senior Alumni Award. Four Ursinus alumni were also presented with awards at the ceremony that took place on Saturday, April 21.

     The Senior Alumni Awards “recognize two seniors who, based on their undergraduate careers, show promise of excelling in their professional lives, as well as for making significant contributions to their chosen fields, the community and/or Ursinus College,” according to the program from the event. The other awards presented at the ceremony were the Alumni Award for Professional Achievement to Kara Raiguel, ’94, the Henry P. and Page Laughlin Educator Award to Dr. Harriet Gould, ’68, the Service to Humanity Award to Dr. Winnifred Cutler, ’73, and the Rising Star Alumni Award to Kelly Becker, ’10.

     Both Cook and Tan were surprised and honored to receive their awards, which they first learned about by phone call in early March.

     “I feel very humbled . . . that someone thought highly enough of me to nominate me. Also, I feel slightly underserving of [the award]. I think there’s definitely a lot of talented people out there that are just as worthy, if not more worthy, of receiving this accolade of achievement,” said Tan.

     Tan, a double major in applied economics and international relations, has been involved in many aspects of campus, from participating in varsity wrestling, to working as a fellow in the Center for Writing and Speaking, to serving as the vice president of the Ursinus College Student Government.

     Cook also explained her surprise. “I didn’t even know [the award] existed, so I thought it was just cool that like through naturally just trying to do stuff that I’m passionate about, I was able to be recognized. So that . . . feels really rewarding.”

     Cook is an environmental studies major with a minor in biology. According to Cook, part of why she was presented with this award is the impact she has made in sustainability on this campus, as she is the president of Ursinus College Environmental Action.

     One such impact Cook made was during sophomore year when she “wrote a proposal with some other sustainability students to add a book into the CIE curriculum and that got accepted. Said Cook, “We were all like ‘how are we supposed to answer all these CIE questions and like not consider the environment?’”

     After graduation, Cook hopes to continue her environmental work as a member of the Food Corps, a group affiliated with AmeriCorps. She will hear back from the program about her acceptance in May.

     Cook explained what her role in the program would entail. Said Cook, “I would be in elementary schools in food insecure areas helping teach about nutrition and gardening . . . to younger kids who might not have access to that.”

     Tan will be working for Vanguard, “which is a local investment management group.” He hopes “it will give me an idea of where I’m going to go and what direction I want to take my career in.”

     Both Cook and Tan are excited to graduate and explore their professional and personal options.

     “I’m very much about doing as much as you can while you’re at it. Once you’ve done all you can you can move on and always seek that next kind of goal or achievement or see something new. I think I’ve reached that point where I’m ready to kind of branch out and be a little more comfortable in terms of a new environment, new places, new people,” said Tan.

     Cook is excited to not have homework and to have more free time to take advantage of all the opportunities she can: “I feel like now that I’ve gotten all these skills from Ursinus, [I can take advantage of] all these cool opportunities out there.”

     The friends and community they have built are what Cook and Tan are both most grateful for when considering their experience at Ursinus.

     Tan said, “It sounds really cliché, but my friends have always been there and been very supportive of what I’m doing. They’ve always made sure that I have someone to have my back. There’s nothing worse than being around people that make you feel alone, and I never felt that way here with my friends. In addition, the faculty and staff here are phenomenal. I talk to other students from other colleges and their experiences are radically different from mine . . . Professors come up to me and talk to me about what I’ve been doing in sports and what’s been going on around campus, and it’s very personalized and very comfortable.”

     According to Cook, “I feel like I’ve just made really like lifelong friends here, especially this past year, taking upper level environmental classes. I definitely think I’ve made friends that think similar to me, but also challenge me, and are interested in the same things. And I just know that with graduation right around the corner, despite us going our separate ways, nothing is really going to change, we’ll still like be there for each other and do cool stuff and that’ll be pretty nice, so I just think that the friendships that I’ve made are really valuable.”

      Cook and Tan are two soon-to-be alumni who Ursinus believes show great promise for the future ahead of them, and they clearly cherish the friendships and experiences they have built at Ursinus.