Awards day winners

UofSC honors top students at Awards Day

The University of South Carolina presented its top student honors, the Algernon Sydney Sullivan and Steven N. Swanger awards, to four graduating seniors during the university’s annual Awards Day ceremony Thursday on the historic Horseshoe.

Ryan Michael Anderson and Emily Lane Dunn received the Sullivan awards, the university’s highest honor for undergraduates. Sullivan awards are given each year for outstanding achievements, campus leadership, exemplary character and service to the community. The award is named for the 19th-century New York lawyer and philanthropist.

Ross Franklin Lordo and Nick Santamaria received the Steven N. Swanger leadership awards, the university’s second-highest undergraduate honor. The award is named for a former president of Omicron Delta Kappa (ODK), which sponsors the university’s Awards Day. It is given to graduating seniors for exemplary leadership and for making significant contributions to the Carolina community. 

Visit the Student Life website for a full list of the university's award winners.

Algernon Sydney Sullivan award

Ryan Michael Anderson

Anderson, a public health major from Cedarburg, Wisconsin, has maintained a 3.95 GPA. He also was recognized by the Office of Fellowships and Scholar Programs as a Rotary Global Grant recipient, and will pursue a Master of Public Health in epidemiology at the University of Cape Town.

An Eagle Scout and Woodrow Scholar, he is a member Phi Beta Kappa and has served as a student senator in Student Government for three years. As an intern for the Galen Health Fellows living and learning community, he mentors undergraduate students interested in pursuing a future in health care. He has led seven groups of high school students to Jamaica and Guatemala, working with Pivotal Directions, a charitable organization.

He has also completed three independent service trips to Kingston, Jamaica, one of which allowed him to co-produce and film an educational documentary about global poverty and perseverance, which was screened at the Sarasota Film Festival in 2016. He was the 2016 champion of the “USC’s Got Talent” competition.

“I was raised in a hospital watching my brother fight off a rare autoimmune disease and have myself overcome a rare medical disability,” he says. “I lived in a landfill community in Kingston, Jamaica, and contracted Dengue fever while researching health inequity. Yet, I do not see these things as limitations but rather as catalysts that instilled in me a desire to make human health a right to all. This drive is the main thread that has driven my involvement and leadership at USC.

“I feel my biggest contribution has been to be a champion for health. If I have inspired even a few students to stand up for the right to health both in our community and globally through my guest lectures, health promotion campaigns or my personal example, then I know I have made a bigger contribution than any one project could ever have.”

Emily Lane Dunn

Emily Dunn, a Capstone Scholar and candidate for Graduation with Leadership Distinction, is a finance, risk management and insurance major from Simpsonville, S.C.

The past-president of Omicron Delta Kappa leadership society, she has worked as a University Ambassador for three years, welcoming countless new students and their families to the Carolina community. She also served as a University 101 peer leader, was a member of the new student union steering committee and the Student Life student leader advisory group, and was a Student Leadership and Diversity Conference presenter.

She served as the Greek Affairs deputy through Student Government and was also a Greek Conduct Board member. She is the co-founder of Delight Ministries, a Christian student organization. Through the Darla Moore School of Business, she has studied abroad twice – expanding her command of the global business landscape. Off-campus, she has served as a page for the South Carolina Senate and volunteered with Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital and Ronald McDonald House Charities.

“My involvement at USC began with admission into the Capstone Scholars program and broadened as I became a Greek woman, tour guide, peer leader, and ultimately a recognized campus leader,” Dunn says. “As president of the oldest leadership society on campus, ODK, I reignited our campus’s most impactful leaders’ passions by bringing meaningful programming to further challenge and inspire our campus’s most prominent leaders.”

Steven N. Swanger Award

Ross Franklin Lordo

Ross Franklin Lordo, a public health major from Fort Mill, S.C., has served as the university’s student body president and is a candidate for Graduation with Leadership Distinction in both research and professional and civic engagement. He accepted early admission to the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Greenville. 

Lordo has served as a University Ambassador for four years, a University 101 peer leader and the executive director for Pillars for Carolina, an extended orientation program. He is a member of Phi Delta Epsilon International Medical Fraternity, My Carolina Alumni Association Garnet Circle, Historic Horseshoe Preservation Committee, Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend Planning Committee, and Student Life Student Leader Advisory Group.

He has conducted research in the School of Medicine and the School of Library and Information Science. Through the Global Health Program, he traveled to Belize to study abroad. In Student Government, he served on Freshman Council, as president pro tempore and student body vice president before being elected president.

Beyond campus, Lordo has worked with Lutheran Hospice, traveling more than 2,000 miles over the last four years and was a referee for more than 500 matches of the United States soccer federation.

“As I reflect on my time at USC, my active engagement in diverse facets of the student experience has showcased my desire to learn, understand and support those around me. Serving as student body president enabled me to promote our student voice, where I fervently advocated for a new student union. Engaging with the Board of Trustees to adopt a fee to fund and progress a $100 million capital project has been one of my most proud and noteworthy achievements.”

Nick Santamaria

Nick Santamaria is a political science major in the South Carolina Honors College from Brewster, N.Y., who has maintained a 3.975 GPA.

He is an inductee of Phi Beta Kappa and Pi Sigma Alpha political science honor society, and was a four-year member of Student Government. He received the 2016 Student Body President’s Award and was recognized by his peers as the recipient of the “Most Hardworking” superlative in 2017. He was a member of Lead the Way: Voter Registration and Civic Engagement Campaign, serving as the forum series coordinator for two years.

A member of the university’s mock trial team, Santamaria was a 2017 Harry S. Truman Scholar Finalist. He received both a Passport Travel Grant and the Beyond the Boundaries Award for Study Abroad in England and the Netherlands. His research — focusing on judicial independence across democracies and first ladies’ political rhetoric and foreign policy – was selected to be showcased through a regional conference.

Beyond campus, he was special assistant to the office of New York state senator, Terrence Murphy, a volunteer with “My Brother Vinny,” veterans homelessness charity in New York and a death penalty trial intern with the South Carolina Commission on Indigent Defense.

“As a first-generation college student and son of an immigrant, I was unsure about what college would mean for me,” he says. “As it turns out, college has meant everything, providing me with friends, skills, and experiences that made me who I am. I have used this diverse campus as a springboard from which positive change can be realized. However, my most noteworthy contribution was not what I achieved, but with whom I achieved it. Now well into my senior year, I find myself regularly talking with the nearly dozen or so formal and informal mentees I have worked with over the years. With them I impart my career advice, most often times a pep talk, and the assurance that if I could find this kind of success at a school 12 hours from home, they could certainly do the same.”


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