Skip to content

College of Humanities Student Awards 2023


Madeika Vercella
Student Convocation Speaker

Madeika is graduating with an Honors Bachelor of Arts degree in English where she completed a novel titled “Dancing on Glass” as her capstone project. As a first-generation, Haitian American college student, Madeika has interwoven her commitment to advocacy with her academics, volunteering as a Mental Wellness Peer Health Educator, leading the Suicide Prevention and Awareness Campaign at the U Center for Student Wellness, and working as a HIV Prevention Counselor with the Utah Department of Health. 

She chose to complete a degree in English Literature and a pre-medicine track because she deeply values narrative. Madeika notes, “In my pursuit of these, I’ve been able to marry my love of narrative in both literature and healthcare. I believe every patient in healthcare possesses a unique narrative and that they should each be met with a high level of sensitivity. My coursework in English Literature has greatly widened my understanding of the people around me.”

After graduation, Madeika will enter a full-time position as a clinical research coordinator in the Department of Pediatric Genetics at the U. She plans to begin medical school in the 2024-2025 academic year. Her goal is to become a pediatrician and serve vulnerable populations at a community clinic

Kailee Ferret

Outstanding Senior

Kailee is graduating with an Honors Bachelor of Science degree in International Studies, with a focus on Human Rights issues. In addition, Kailee completed an honors thesis titled “The State(s) of Abortion: Assessing Dobbs v. Jackson” and won a UROP award to support her research analyzing the decision to overturn Roe V. Wade. Kailee will continue to pursue her interest in human rights and law next fall when she begins her studies at Loyola New Orleans College of Law.

Kailee came to the U from St. Petersburg, FL where from 2018-2021, she worked as a Physical Therapy Assistant during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Of that time, Kailee recalls, “I became disenchanted with my position during the pandemic. I wanted to know about people and culture. I wanted to understand communities and what drew people together or pushed them apart.” In the College of Humanities, Kailee has pursued these interests through her major in international studies, studying abroad in Florence, Italy and conducting research with the support of her mentor, Professor Leslie Francis. 

Samuel Judd 

Excellence in Humanities

Sam is graduating Summa Cum Laude with two Honors degrees in philosophy and music, having completed honors theses in both majors, one on “epistemic justice” and the other on “queering the pipe organ.” In addition to this rigorous course of study, Sam has been a tireless advocate and community leader on and off campus, serving as an ASUU senator for the college, leader of the Humanities Student Council, a founding member of the U Asian Collective, an intern for the Rape Recovery Center in Salt Lake City, and a Bennion Center Student leader, to name only a few. 

It should come as no surprise then that Sam chose to major in philosophy because, “I love thinking. I think that thinking is a valuable enterprise. Over the course of my study, I have come to a deeper understanding of how my orienting value of justice intersects in a practical sense with the theory I study, which has led me to see my love of philosophy in terms of imagining rather than simply thinking.”

After graduation, Sam plans to continue their commitment to community engagement, advocacy and transformative justice while working in sexual violence prevention and pursuing graduate school. Wherever their path takes them, they are committed to “never stop imagining.”

Ellle Moulton

Excellence in Humanities

Elle is graduating Summa Cum Laude with Honors Bachelor of Arts degrees in Religious Studies and History. Elle chose religious studies noting that, “Religion is an integral aspect of my life, and through my study of history I have learned that it has been an integral aspect of peoples’ lives throughout time. I wanted to better understand why that is. I also wanted to increase my knowledge of other religious traditions so that I can be a more informed and respectful member of any community that I am a part of.”

During her time in the College of Humanities, Elle has worked closely with multiple faculty members while completing her Honors thesis. She cites this opportunity as contributing the most to her time at the U, explaining “One of the most valuable parts of my experience at the U has been my interactions with professors and faculty. My professors have demonstrated both a passion for the subjects they teach and a dedication to helping students succeed.”

After graduation, Elle plans to prepare to attend law school in Fall 2024. While at the U, Elle worked at the Rose Park Neighborhood Center as an ESL and Citizenship tutor. In law school, she hopes to continue to pursue this passion by studying “immigration and refugee policies with the intention of positively influencing policy and decision-making that affects our community.”


College of Humanities Undergraduate Research Award

Britta Bolander

Andrea Guttierez

Jacob Johnson

Bridget Kelly

Eliana Massey

Casey Miller

Sylvia Page

Leadership in Humanities

Elijah Alford

Rylie Atkinson

Samuel Judd

Kelly Kendro

Grace Rogers

Sylvia Page

Natalie Slater

Aynaelyssya Thomas

Eun Jae Yoo

Activism in the Humanities

Kaitlin Hae

Samuel Judd

Neelima Madhu 

Elle Moulton

Lulu Olaniyan

Natalie Slater

Fiona Summers

Mykie Valenzuela

Madeika Vercella

Humanities Fulbright Finalists

Rilie Atkinson, Czech Republic

Corinne Clarkson, Portugal

Evie Atkinson, Croatia

Last Updated: 5/4/23