Sarah Berkemeier named Maryville College's Outstanding Senior

May 1, 2002

MARYVILLE, Tenn. - Sarah M. Berkemeier, a senior human services major from Portland, Ore., was named the 2002 Outstanding Senior at Maryville College during the Academic Awards Ceremony held on campus April 27.

Established by the Maryville College Alumni Association in 1974 and first presented in 1975, the Outstanding Senior award recognizes those students whose overall record of academic achievement and participation in extracurricular activities stand out as most exemplary.

According to Helen Bruner, director of alumni and parent relations at the College, the purpose of the award is to recognize a senior "who has been active in a broad range of activities in college, who 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."

Berkemeier, the daughter of Thomas and Linda Berkemeier of Portland, enrolled at Maryville College in 1998, following graduation from Franklin High School. By enrolling at the College, she continued a family tradition. Berkemeier's mother, Linda Jones Berkemeier, graduated from the College in 1970; her grandfather, Alexander Jones, graduated from MC in 1932; her great-grandfather, Robert C. Jones, graduated in the class of 1894; a distant relative, John Franklin Magill, was a member of the class of 1889 and is buried in the College Cemetery.

In presenting her advisee at the April 27 ceremony, Dr. Susan Ambler, associate professor of sociology, described Berkemeier as someone who is willing to take risks, who chooses experiences that will show her a different perspective, who represents the "ultimate" liberal arts student.

"She explored vocation as many freshmen do," Ambler said. "She started in biology, then ended in the social sciences. The interdisciplinarity of human services appealed to her. She studied Spanish as a minor, and even took a painting course.

"But she has been exploring much more than vocation and using learning resources beyond the Maryville College campus," Ambler continued. "She has traveled in four years more than most people do in their whole lives … She has developed a sense of service … She has been involved in and led the campus community."

Berkemeier's list of college activities is, indeed, extensive. She is a four-year member of the College's Wellness Council, the Dance Team and Student Foundation. For three years, she has been a member of the College's Alternative Spring Break volunteers and the campus affiliate of Habitat for Humanity. (In addition to participating in these organizations, she led two ASB trips and served as the Habitat for Humanity secretary for two years.) She has also been involved in InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, Circle K and Young Democrats. Minoring in Spanish, she spent the summer of 2001 studying abroad in Sevilla, Spain and spent one year as a Spanish language teaching assistant at the College.

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 her essay, Berkemeier wrote that she plans to devote one year to community service following graduation, possibly serving in the AmeriCorps. Enrolling in graduate school to study non-profit management, law or social work is also in her plans.

"Within five years," she wrote, "I see myself being very involved in the non-profit sector of society, and eventually being in management or other leadership positions. I do not have a location goal for the next five years, as I am the type of person who will go wherever life takes me."

Berkemeier included in her essay that the influence of Maryville College upon her life's goals has been significant.

"My experiences on Alternative Spring Breaks, with service-learning requirements, and in leadership of a variety of campus organizations have helped me to realize my calling to be in leadership for the sake of our communities," she wrote. "Maryville College has taught me how to be determined and perseverant - two qualities essential to my desired vocation.

"Maryville College has taught me to truly live out my favorite words of wisdom: 'One of the deep secrets of life is that all that is really worth doing is what we do for others,'" she added.

Finalists for the Outstanding Senior award included BreAnn Daniel, daughter of William Daniel of Xenia, Ohio, and Brenda Trivett of Blanchester, Ohio; Ryan Newhouse, son of Doris Newhouse of Maryville; Aimee Olivier, daughter of Cynthia Olivier of Springville, Tenn.; and Danielle Thomas, daughter of David Thomas of Sarasota, Fla., and Judy Thomas-Hunt of Venice, Fla.

As finalists, Daniel, Newhouse, Olivier and Thomas were all presented a framed award. Berkemeier was presented a framed award, as well, plus a cash award of $500. Her name will be added to the Outstanding Senior plaque displayed on campus.

At the April 27 ceremony, Berkemeier was also recognized with the Lanie Crowell Award, which is presented to the senior who has exhibited meritorious achievement in the field of sociology.