Donald Rucker named Outstanding Senior

April 26, 2012
Written by: Christine Flood '12, Communications Assistant

Donald Rucker, a child development and learning for teacher licensure major from Cartersville, Ga., was named the 2012 Outstanding Senior at Maryville College during the Academic Awards Ceremony held on April 14 in the Ronald and Lynda Nutt Theatre of the Clayton Center for the Arts.

Established by the Maryville College Alumni Association in 1974, the Outstanding Senior award recognizes those students whose overall record of academic achievement and participation in extracurricular activities stand out as most exemplary.

Specifically, the award seeks to recognize a senior who has been active in a broad range of activities in college, who best exemplifies an “ideal” Maryville College graduate and who has the potential to be an outstanding alumnus/alumna – both as a representative of the College and in his or her service to the institution.

Committed to service

Only those seniors with a minimum grade point average of 3.0 are considered for nomination for the Outstanding Senior Award. A committee that includes student, faculty and staff representation is given the responsibility of choosing five finalists. Those finalists are invited to respond in writing to questions about their view of their future role as alumni of Maryville College, their goals for the future and their understanding of how the College has influenced them and helped shape those goals.

In his essay, Rucker repeatedly expressed his desire to contribute to and be involved with the Maryville College community after graduating.

“Maryville has given me the best years of my life. I cannot wait to return the favor,” he wrote, adding that he looks forward to serving on a board of the College that is committed to upholding the values and principles that the College was founded on.

“This college has unconditionally embraced me, and I look forward to giving back in the future as an alumnus,” he wrote.

Through his involvement in a wide variety of campus organizations during his Maryville College career, Rucker already has demonstrated service at – and to – Maryville College. He has been a member of the varsity basketball team, Student Government Association, Concert Choir, Off-Kilter vocal ensemble, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Global Citizenship Organization, Voices of Praise, InterVarsity, Omicron Delta Kappa and the Senior Gift Committee. He has worked as a peer mentor and a residence life assistant.

In addition to this, he has also held leadership positions in many of these campus organizations. He was the co-captain of the varsity basketball team this season. He serves as the president of the Class of 2012, chair of the Compassion Committee chair, chaplain of the Concert Choir, public relations officer and co-president for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, co-chair of the Peer Mentor group, vice president of the Global Citizen Organization and treasurer for Omicron Delta Kappa.

Off campus, Rucker has volunteered with Big Brothers Big Sisters since 2009. Since 2010, he has sung with the New Providence Presbyterian Church Chancel Choir. Rucker also studied abroad last summer in China to participate in an international teaching program.

After graduating, Rucker has committed two years to the Teach for America Corps and has been selected to begin teaching this August in Alabama.

Motivated by family

Dr. Rebecca Lucas, associate professor of elementary education, introduced Rucker at the Academic Awards Ceremony. Referencing the essay Rucker submitted to the selection committee, she explained that Donald was motivated most by his family and his desire to benefit his immediate and extended family by serving as a role model. Lucas ended her introduction saying, “Donald, you have honored your family. You have honored yourself and you have honored the people and the place you love that we call Maryville College.

“Thank you for choosing to spend your undergraduate years with us,” she continued. “As a forever-member of the Maryville College family, we can’t wait to see you move on to your next adventure. We are excited for you. We are proud of you. We are always here for you.”

More finalists, more awards

Rucker was presented a framed award along with a $500 cash award. His name will be added to the Outstanding Senior plaque displayed on campus.

Finalists for the Outstanding Senior Award included: Allison Little, a sociology major from Maryville, Tenn.; Ellison Berryhill, a philosophy major from Jefferson City, Tenn.; J. Ridge Carter, a biochemistry major from Maryville, Tenn.; and Samuel Jackson, a political science major from Greenback, Tenn. They were each presented with a frame award.

In addition to the Outstanding Senior Award, Rucker took home the Child Development Award, which is awarded annually to a senior child development and learning major who has demonstrated competence with children and achieved outstanding performance in the major; and the Alpha Lambda Delta Award, which goes to a senior Alpha Lambda Delta member with the highest GPA through the fall semester of the senior year.

Maryville College is ideally situated in Maryville, Tenn., between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Knoxville, the state's third largest city. Founded in 1819, it is the 12th oldest institution of higher learning in the South and maintains an affiliation with the Presbyterian Church (USA). Known for offering its students a rigorous and highly personal experience that includes an undergraduate research requirement, Maryville College is a nationally ranked institution of higher learning that successfully joins the liberal arts and professional preparation. Total enrollment for the fall 2016 semester is 1,198.