Sarah Vanasse ’21 and Tawreak “Ty” Gamble-Eddington '21 won the top awards at Prize Day on Saturday, May 8.
For the second straight spring, the pandemic forced the ceremony to be a virtual affair. Students were honored for their achievements in academics, research, service and governance. A total of 116 prizes were awarded.
“I look forward to this day with excitement, but also with a bit of sadness,” said President David R. Harris. “I am excited because we have the opportunity to recognize so many students for their myriad accomplishments. The sadness is because as special as our awardees are, I know that there are so many more who are deserving. That is what it means to be at a school as special as Union.”
A biology and anthropology double major from Worcester, Mass., Vanasse received the Josephine Daggett Prize, presented annually to a senior for conduct and character.
A political science and history major with minors in political economy and Spanish and Hispanic Studies, Gamble-Eddington received the Frank Bailey (1885) Prize. It is awarded annually to the senior who has rendered the greatest service to the College in any field. He is from Springfield, Mass.
In announcing Vanasse’s award, President David R. Harris noted that her greatest contributions to Union have brought focus to issues of gender equality.
She is the president of Women’s Union, where she organizes such events as Denim Day and Take Back the Night, and discussions on sexual assault awareness and prevention. She is a member of Posse, vice president of the senior class and vice president of campus life for Student Forum.
With the Title IX office, she co-founded the “Eliminate the X” program to facilitate conversations around preventing sexual assault and harassment. She has served as the sexual assault awareness coordinator for Delta Phi Epsilon sorority, a role in which she worked with other Greek organizations to promote conversations around sexual assault and gender inequality. She has been a Body Project peer leader in workshops promoting body positivity and creating safe and supportive spaces on campus.
Vanasse is also the founder and chair of the COVID Program Task Force that organized events to increase student engagement.
For her anthropology major, Vanasse studied in Fiji and did her senior thesis on local perceptions of depression and anxiety. In biology, she conducted research to examine the role of a protein in insect development and molting.
Among her honors, she recently received a Watson Fellowship with a project titled “Activism in Female Empowerment,” through which she will engage with women leaders and activists in Sweden, South Africa, India and New Zealand. She plans to attend law school and pursue a career as a women’s rights lawyer.
Tawreak “Ty” Gamble-Eddington
One faculty nominator called Gamble-Eddington a “driving force for campus change, pushing Union to be more inclusive and aware of diverse perspectives.”
He is well known for his community activism and work through organizations including Union Pride, Black Student Union, LGBTQ+ Committee, the Diversity Liaison Committee and the Civic Engagement Committee.
Gamble-Eddington was involved in the founding of Union’s chapter of My Brother’s Keeper, a mentoring program for Schenectady youth. During winter term 2019, he traveled to Argentina, where he worked with a legal firm to provide services to the poor, the homeless and juvenile inmates. In a fall 2019 term abroad, he was in Seville, Spain, taking classes on immigration policy and working with an organization to help immigrants fully exercise their legal rights.
An aspiring international lawyer, he did his senior thesis focused on reforms designed to enhance minority participation in the democratic process.
Among his many honors, Gamble-Eddington he received the George J. Mitchell Scholarship in support of a year of graduate study in race, ethnicity and conflict, conducted at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland.
In addition to President Harris, the Prize Day ceremony featured remarks from Strom Thacker, the Stephen J. and Diane K. Ciesinski Dean of Faculty and Vice President for Academic Affairs; Fran’Cee Brown-McClure, vice president for Student Affairs and Dean of Students; and Matthew Toy ’21, president of Student Forum.
The ceremony also featured two musical performances.
Prize Day is typically held in Memorial Chapel and coincides with the Steinmetz Symposium weekend, which highlights student research and creativity. The event features oral and poster presentations, engineering displays, dance, music and art exhibits.
The symposium, now in its 31st year, will also be virtual for the second year in a row, beginning Friday, May 21.
To view the complete list of Prize Day winners click here.