Laura Nelson Wins Ernest H. Ern Distinguished Student Award

UVA Today

Rhodes Scholar Laura Nelson, School of Nursing administrator Gwendolph Christmas and business professor Yiorgos Allayannis are recipients of this year's University of Virginia Alumni Association awards, which honor a distinguished student, employee and faculty member annually.

The association presented the three awards at a luncheon at Alumni Hall on April 16.

Ernest H. Ern Distinguished Student Award

Nelson, a fourth-year student in the College of Arts & Sciences, is majoring in political and social thought. In addition to being the University's 47th Rhodes Scholar, she is a Jefferson Scholar, a Robert Kent Gooch Scholar, an Echols Scholar and a Lawn resident. She has been the driving force behind U.Va.'s "Flash Seminars," which gather students, community members and faculty for a single-event discussion of one idea.

Founder of both the Engage U.Va. weekly newsletter and the "Talk is Cheap" weekly discussion series, Nelson has served as student chair of the U.Va. Public Service Advisory Board, chair of the Student Council Committee on Civic Engagement, co-chair of the Gray-Carrington Award Selection Committee and a member of the Sexual Assault Board and the Advisory Committee to the Office of Community Partnerships. She is a member of Pi Beta Phi sorority and a hike leader for the U.Va. outdoor recreation program.

In conjunction with her Rhodes Scholarship, Nelson plans to study at the University of Oxford in England. "I've always dreamed of studying literature at Oxford," she said.

The Distinguished Student Award, established in 1966 and later named in honor of longtime University professor and administrator Ernest H. Ern, is conferred annually upon a member of the student body who has won recognition in the academic community for leadership and for his or her concern in preserving the traditions of the University. Though outstanding performance as an athlete, high scholastic standing or participation in student organizations will be taken into consideration, it is the purpose of the award to honor the student who has won the admiration of the University for significant contributions in several areas of University life and has excelled in all of them.

The award, presented to Nelson by Dean of Students Allen Groves, consists of a certificate of recognition, life membership in the Alumni Association and $5,000.

For more information on the awards, please visit: