WINGATE – Four 2021 Wingate University graduates received special recognition during this weekend’s commencement ceremonies.

Manuela Lizbeth Sanchez Pacheco

The Budd E. and Ethel K. Smith Award, reserved for the graduating senior judged to have made an outstanding contribution through leadership of fellow students, went to Manuela Lizbeth Sanchez Pacheco.

A Golden Door Scholar from Charlotte, she double-majored in environmental biology and mathematics. Sanchez Pacheco made time for in-depth research on the kudzu bug, which she did alongside biology professor Erika Niland.

“Manny is extremely responsible, honest and empathetic,” Niland said. “I’ve been extremely impressed by her work ethic as she conducted research with me for the last three years and presented at a national conference in the fall.”

A member of the University Honors Program, Sanchez Pacheco served as president of the Hooked on Helping Crochet Club, led a One Day, One Dog service project, tutored students in the Union County Public Schools and was also involved in the Latin American Student Association. She was also a lab assistant and a lead tutor in the Academic Resource Center. She has taken a position as a research technician at the University of Georgia.

Gracie Marie McCallister

The C.C. Burris Award, presented to the graduating woman who best represents the ideals of scholarship, leadership and service, went to Gracie Marie McCallister of Unionville.

Dean of General Education Carrie Hoefferle describes McCallister, a history major with minors in Spanish and international studies, as “the first freshman to have thoroughly grasped historiography” and said that she quickly established herself as a stellar student in all of her classes.

“This achievement did not come easy to Gracie,” Hoefferle said. “She worked very hard for it, consistently, for four years, showing her perseverance and resilience in the process. She is an excellent writer, reader, researcher and critical thinker.”

An honors student, McCallister researched the Reconstruction Era in the Piedmont with history professor David Mitchell as part of a Reeves Summer Research grant. She also served as a peer mentor for Gateway classes.

“She is empathetic, kind and supportive toward other students and is a true servant leader in her own quiet and thoughtful way,” Hoefferle said.

McCallister plans to share her passion for history with middle-schoolers, teaching locally through North Carolina’s residency program while she continues to take education classes at Wingate on her way to full licensure.

Kyle Matthew Ring

Kyle Matthew Ring earned the A.F. Hendricks Award, which is presented to the graduating man who represents the ideals of scholarship, leadership and service.

A Gastonia resident, Ring came to Wingate as a management major, shifted to finance and later to accounting. He served as a resident assistant for three years and a peer tutor for two and was a member of the Biology Club and Delta Sigma Pi.

“He exhibited a high degree of maturity, integrity and self-discipline,” said Sergio Castello, dean of the Porter B. Byrum School of Business and Ring’s advisor. “He was always thinking about the best path forward. He also showed great leadership, time-management and planning skills. He had the ability to analyze problems and find solutions.”

Kyle finished his coursework last December and started work for Red Ventures in January. This fall he plans to pursue his master’s in accounting at the University of South Carolina.

Kirby Elizabeth VonEgidy

The Fred H. Allen Award, which goes to the graduate judged to have best exhibited outstanding Christian leadership and to have been involved in significant Christian service projects, went to Kirby Elizabeth VonEgidy of Marshville.

VonEgidy double-majored in biology and communication with an emphasis in sports broadcasting. A cheerleader and member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, VonEgidy has also been involved in Wingate’s chapter of the nonprofit MEDLIFE (Medicine, Education, & Development to Low Income Families Everywhere). She is president of Delight Ministries, has served as a Supplemental Instruction leader and on the Student Government Association executive board. She is also a member of Alpha Xi Delta and of the National Society of Leadership and Success as well as Wingate’s Pre-Medical Club.

Since 2020 graduates were invited back to campus for a belated commencement ceremony this spring, winners of the 2020 silver bowl awards were also recognized in a video released last week. They had received their awards late last fall.

They are Diareth Lizbeth Flores Nava, the Budd E. and Ethel K. Smith Award; Judith Perez Castro, the C.C. Burris Award; Giacomo Viazzo, the A.F. Hendricks Award; Bailey Ann Freeburn, the Fred H. Allen Award; and Ebba Maria Stillman, the Jerry and Alice Surratt Award.

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