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Graduation Awards 2020

Each year MTS Commencement Prizes are awarded for outstanding student achievement.

Linda Wisser

The Cora Doster Moses Memorial Homiletics Prize is granted to the member of the graduating class of Moravian Theological Seminary who has done the best work in preaching and practical pulpit work.

This year the award was granted to Linda Wisser ’20 MDiv who is a candidate for ordination in the Moravian Church. Linda was recently appointed as Interim Pastor at East Hills Moravian Church in Bethlehem. While serving as a lay leader at her home congregation in Emmaus, Linda first began taking courses at MTS in 2002. Wondering if the Crossroads program would be a better fit, she enrolled and completed that program in 2015. Encouraged by her pastor, parishioners, and family members, Linda enrolled in the MDiv program in 2015 while continuing to serve as a lay leader of the Emmaus congregation. In recognition of her pastoral skills and inviting worship leadership she was asked to serve as the Interim Pastor of Bethany UCC (Bethlehem) while completing the MDiv program. Linda’s sermons often show unique insight and application, based on excellent exegetical background work. Her composure and poise while leading worship reflect her strong and deep pastoral presence. Congratulations to Linda for receiving this well-deserved award.

 Desna Henry Goulbourne

The Rev. Elmer D. Bender Memorial Prize is awarded to a worthy individual preparing for the ministry of the Moravian Church.

This year the award was granted to Desna Henry Goulbourne ’20 MACh. Desna moved to New York City from Jamaica in 2011. She enrolled at MTS in 2012 and earned the Master of Arts in Theological Studies in 2016. In 2014 she began serving under appointment at the Tremont Terrace Moravian Church in NYC. After completing the MATS degree, Desna returned to MTS the following fall to begin work on the Master of Arts in Chaplaincy. While earning the MACh she accepted the call to serve the United Moravian Church in NYC. Desna’s work as a strong pastoral leader, compassionate caregiver, and dedication to the church’s mission among the least in society is recognized with this award. 

Jessica Morris

The Henry Gerdsen Memorial Prize is awarded in recognition of intellectual, personal, and professional growth, as well as a commitment to involvement in the Seminary community.

This year the award was granted to Jessica Morris ’20 MATS. Jessica graduated with the academic honor of Distinction with a 3.95, and in addition to the Master of Arts in Theological Studies, earned the Certificate in Spiritual Direction. Working full-time as the Director of Prospect Research in the Advancement department at Albright University in Reading, Jessica was able to take only one or two courses a semester. During the six years that it took to earn the degree and certificate, Jessica was always appreciative and positive, and became deeply committed to the people and mission of the Seminary. Jessica honed her research and writing skills during her course of study which culminated in an excellent thesis entitled “Personal Eschatology: The End of My World as I Know It.” In it she  uses an interdisciplinary lens to study the ways in which the intersections between New Testament stories of transformation (Nicodemus and Paul), spiritual discernment practices, and 12 Step recovery programs can illuminate an understanding of a personal end of times eschatology when people find themselves at a point of desperation and must journey through the “end of the world” as they know it to move into an as-yet-unknown, new life on the other side. Congratulations to Jessica for receiving this well-deserved award.

Victoria Aitchison

The Faculty Academic Prize is awarded at the discretion of the faculty to the student who not only maintains a high academic standing but also exemplifies superior creative scholarship.

This year the prize was awarded to Victoria Aitchison ’20 MATS, who graduated with the academic honor of Distinction with a 4.0. In 2016, Tori completed the Spiritual Direction Certificate while working a full-time position as the Director of Development of the Parents Program of Lehigh University. She folded her credits from the certificate into the MATS program and focused her work on spirituality and philanthropy. Her creative and comprehensive thesis demonstrates stellar research, and is titled “Illuminating a Path for Compassion, Community, and Calling: A Case for Contemplative Philanthropy.” In all aspects of her academic life—research and writing, engaging conversations, and intellectual maturity—Tori has excelled. Congratulations to Tori for receiving this well-deserved award.

Charlie McDonald

The J. Taylor Hamilton Biblical Language Prize is awarded annually to the student who does the best work in a biblical language, and this year the prize is granted for outstanding work in Hebrew.

Charlie McDonald was selected by his Hebrew instructors to be the recipient of the award. Charlie is a rising senior in the MDiv program and a candidate for ordination in the Moravian Church. For the past two years he has served as the President of the Student Elders Council. Charlie demonstrated great understanding of the Hebrew language and how important it is for understanding the Hebrew Bible. He slogged through the parsing, translating, and minutia like a pro!  Congratulations to Charlie for receiving this well-deserved award.

Illia Morales

Jackie Re

The Barbara Martin Stout Counseling Prize is awarded to a graduating MACC degree candidate who has shown outstanding academic achievement and professional development in the ministry of counseling. This year the award was granted to two outstanding students: Ilia Morales and Jacquline Ré. 

Ilia Morales ’20 MACC, graduated with the academic honor of Distinction with a 4.0  For the past two years she has served on the Student Elders Council. She is diligent and perfected her research skills while a student at Moravian. Ilia has a heart for advocacy and social justice, passions and skills she immediately put to good use at her KIDSPEACE internship, where she was also offered employment even before graduation. Congratulations to Ilia for receiving this well-deserved award.

Jackie Ré ’20 MACC, graduated with the academic honor of Distinction with a 3.97. Jackie has a passion for all things Spiritual and all things 12-step, passions she wove together as she sought and obtained a hard to acquire internship at Alena Lodge, working with intense issues of addiction, including eating disorders. Jackie integrated a psycho-spiritual approach in everything she did at Alena, including introducing her internship community to the teachings of the Enneagram. Jackie worked full time as Director of Haley House, a Transitional Halfway House for women coming out of addiction, while completing her MACC degree, immediately putting into practice all she was learning. Congratulations to Jackie for receiving this well-deserved award.

 

The Rochelle N. Pavlov Santiago MACC Prize is granted to a graduating MACC candidate whose clinical practice contributions and application of psychology betters the human condition, leading to the improvement of the mental health and well-being of the disenfranchised, the disempowered, the underserved, and the less privileged.

This year the prize was awarded to Diomarys Nunez ’20 MACC. Dio is a first generation graduate from Moravian College. Throughout her time at the Seminary as a full time student, she also worked full time. She is the first female in her family to obtain a master's degree (and with a 3.8 GPA!). For the past two years she has served on the Student Elders Council, held the essential position of Kitchen Steward and was also a member of the College's Discipline Review Committee. Her personal experiences as a Hispanic woman growing up in a low income family allowed her to bring a different perspective to her clinical classes and internship. She is ’paying it forward’ by continuing to work with underserved populations.

 

The Herman T. Frueauff Memorial Prize is granted to a student for outstanding class work and research in the field of Moravian history.

This year the prize was awarded to Scott Rainey, a candidate for ordination in the Moravian Church who is completing his MDiv at Wake Forest Divinity School in Winston-Salem, NC. In a reciprocal agreement between the two schools, Scott is required to take several courses at MTS, particularly those relating to Moravian history, theology, and polity. In addition to his consistently fine work in class discussions and papers, Scott’s research paper “Bethania, Slavery, and Economics: A Case Study of George Hauser, Jr. (1755-1818)” was exemplary original research. He delved into the documents preserved in the archives of the Southern Province to examine the complexities of Moravian life after the American Revolution, painting a nuanced portrait of a controversial Moravian figure who pushed for the church to give up its communal economics. Congratulations to Scott for receiving this well-deserved award.