Award winners show deep commitment to caring
By Charlotte Crystal and Katherine Jackson
University will bestow three Algernon Sydney Sullivan Awards at
Valediction Exercises May 20. The awards, which recognize excellence
of character and service to humanity, will be presented to Annette
Gibbs, a long-time University administrator who was instrumental
in transforming U.Va. into a coeducational institution, and two
graduating fourth-year students, Pooja V. Sukhwani and Leslie
H. Williams Jr.
Pooja V. Sukhwani
V. Sukhwani of Miami, Fla., plans to express her caring for people
through a career in medicine.
She's already well on her way.
at the University, she co-founded the March of Dimes Collegiate
Council to promote that organization's mission of raising funds
to prevent birth defects. She also helped organize the recent
National Bioethics Conference, which U.Va. students hosted.
her course work -- a major in bioethics and a minor in biology
-- Sukhwani served as an ethics intern with the U.Va. Teen Health
Center and as a research assistant for the Institute for Practical
Florida, Sukhwani served as an emergency room technician at the
Baptist Hospital of Miami in the summer of 1998 and last summer
worked as a liaison with parents and children from low-income
households for the University of Miami's Pediatric Mobile Clinic.
She also served as a cabin counselor for the Boggy Creek Gang
Camp in Eustis, Fla., a summer camp for chronically ill children.
faculty and administrators express their amazement at and admiration
for all that Pooja Sukhwani does to help others, both individually
and in organizations, and the wonderful, caring spirit in which
she does it," said James Childress, the Edwin B. Kyle Professor
of Religious Studies and Professor of Medical Education. "She
does so much but always with a smile and a sense of joy that is
infectious. As one student put it, Pooja 'has a heart of gold
and a dedication to all that she is involved with.' She invests
her time, energy and leadership in various organizations 'because
she truly cares about what they stand for and wants to help them
achieve all that they are capable of achieving,'" he said.
has deferred her acceptance into Tulane University Medical School
for a year to spend some time on service projects, one of which
is going to the Dominican Republic to help children learn to read.
H. Williams Jr.
H. Williams Jr.
Leslie H. Williams Jr., an honor student from Alexandria, is the
living definition of a well-rounded student. A Rodman Scholar,
he majored in mechanical engineering, while acting in plays and
the Engineering School's
rigorous program, Williams strived for fulfilling experiences
outside the classroom. "I think engineers should be well-rounded
individuals with the ability to interact with anyone," he
helped found BUCKS, Brothers United Celebrating Knowledge and
Success, a service organization designed to strengthen black male
community leadership. [See BUCKS'
vision to give back to community will continue.]
In addition, he served as a peer adviser for first-year minority
is a role model to advisees," said Sylvia Terry, associate
dean in the Office
of African-American Affairs and director of the Peer Advisors
Program. "We talk a lot about building community at U.Va.
and Les does just that. He does it with his presence, his creativity,
and, as corny as it sounds, his love for humanity," Terry
infused his acting roles with the same characteristics. During
his toughest semester, while carrying 18 hours, Williams played
Mercutio in the highly acclaimed Spectrum Theatre production of
"Romeo and Juliet." The multicultural student production
kept Shakespeare's dialogue, but focused on campus issues such
as interracial dating and self-segregation. For his dramatic performance,
Williams was featured on "CBS News: Eye on America with Dan
Rather." For his academic performance, he ended the semester
with a 3.3 grade point average.
Williams also performed in the production, "Voices of the
Class," which brought to life a selection of essays written
by entering first-year students. He used his own example as an
African-American student at the mostly white Thomas Jefferson
High School for Science and Technology in Northern Virginia to
reflect the feelings of alienation experienced by many black first-year
his many honors, Williams won the Virginia Engineering Foundation's
Outstanding Student Award this spring. Last fall he was nominated
for a Rhodes Scholarship and inducted into the Raven Society,
the IMP Society and the National Society of Black Engineers.
graduation, Williams will begin his engineering career at Ford
Motor Co. in Detroit, but plans to stay involved with theater.
Whether he goes on as an engineer or as an actor, one thing is
certain -- Les Williams will continue his role helping people.
press release on U.Va.
Engineering Graduate Les Williams: A Technology Leader With a
Flair for Helping People
Algernon Sydney Sullivan awards were established by the New York
Southern Society in 1925 to honor its first president. The awards
are presented annually at U.Va. and at about a dozen other universities
in the United States to two undergraduate degree candidates, a
man and a woman, and a member of the university community.