Recipients of the “Student of the Block” award for the fall 2014 semester were recognized Wednesday during the halftime of the women’s basketball game.
The honorees included David Cooper for Block One, Monica Smith for Block Two, Ryan Barker for Block Three and Joseph Elphingstone for Block Four.
The “Student of the Block Award” is presented by the Tusculum Office of Student Affairs and was established to recognize individuals who excel in their academic endeavors, campus involvement and/or athletic performance. The award is selected from nominations made by faculty and staff members. Plaques telling about the honorees are displayed in the Niswonger Commons and other campus buildings.
A senior majoring in biology, Cooper has a perfect 4.0 cumulative grade point average. His academic excellence has earned him a number of accolades. He was named the 2014 South Atlantic Conference (SAC) Men’s Cross Country Scholar Athlete of the Year. He is a member of the Tusculum chapter of the Alpha Chi National Honor Society, for which only the top 10 percent of juniors and seniors are eligible. Cooper is a two-time selection to the Capital One Academic All-America® Men’s Cross Country/Track and Field Team selection. He has also been named each year to the Tusculum President’s List, the college’s Dean’s List and the SAC Commissioner’s Honor Roll.
On campus, Cooper, who is from Greeneville, is a resident assistant and has served in the President’s Society, a select group of students who act as ambassadors for the College. He has also served on the Tusculum Athletic Judicial Board and volunteered at the Greene County YMCA and the Greene County Human Society.
Cooper has served as a four-year team captain of the men’s cross country team and has completed one of the finest running careers in Tusculum history. He owns 10 of the top 25 running times in program history, including two of the top 10. He is a three-time All-SAC selection, earning first team honors in 2012. In 2011, he was named to the SAC All-Freshman Team.
A December 2014 graduate with a bachelor’s degree in organizational management, Smith will begin work on her master of business administration degree next month.
At Tusculum, she served her fellow student as a mentor in Tusculum’s ARCHES (Adults Reaching Career Heights and Educational Success) program. ARCHES assists first-generation college students, those with learning disabilities or individuals from low income backgrounds who are being served in Tusculum’s Graduate and Professional Studies degree programs. The federally funded TRIO program provides assistance in a variety of areas, including academic support/tutoring, academic advising, career services and personal counseling.
In addition, Smith, who is from Knoxville, has worked with Special Olympics and been a peer tutor and youth mentor. She has also been involved in her community as a gymnast, basketball player and track runner.
Among her favorite memories of Tusculum were participating in ARCHES trips, listening to lectures and visiting Malta through Tusculum’s Global Studies program in 2013.
After obtaining her MBA, she plans to pursue a law degree and become a practicing attorney.
Barker, a senior from Laurens, S.C., is a double major in history and English with a concentration in creative writing. During Barker’s time at Tusculum, he has made his mark on the college through campus leadership and his contributions in the classroom.
Currently, he is the president of the Students of Museums and the Students of History Organization and served as the 2013-14 president of the Student Government Association. He has served on the student Judicial Review Board and on the Old Oak Festival planning committee.
Barker has served as a student editor of The Tusculum Review, the college’s literary magazine and is a published author.
Academically, Barker has excelled in his studies, and has presented papers at the Blue Ridge Undergraduate Research Conference. He is a member of Tusculum’s chapter of the Alpha Chi National Honor Society, for which only the top 10 percent of the junior and senior class are eligible. He is also a member of the Phi Alpha Theta National Honor Society for history majors and the Sigma Tau Delta National Honor Society for English majors. He has been recognized on the Tusculum College Dean’s List and Charles Oliver Gray List.
The son of Jeffrey and Debbie Craine, Barker has made the most of his opportunities at Tusculum. He has successfully completed three internships, one in the college’s Office of Communications, another for the Museums of Tusculum College and the third for the Niswonger Foundation. He visited Norway as part of Tusculum’s Global Studies program.
Joseph Elphingstone is a senior majoring in biology and pre-medicine. The native of Calhoun, Ga., has a 3.91 cumulative grade point average and has been able to successfully balance his academic and athletic responsibilities. A member of the men’s tennis team, he has accounted for a 9-4 singles record and an 11-3 worksheet in doubles.
His academic accomplishments have earned him recognition on the Tusculum President’s List, the Dean’s List and Charles Oliver Gray Honor List. He has also been named to the Tusculum Athletic Director’s Honor Roll and the South Atlantic Conference Commissioner’s Honor Roll. He is also a member of Tusculum’s chapter of the Alpha Chi National Honor Society, to which only the top 10 percent of the junior and senior class are invited to join and has served as an officer of the organization.
After graduation, Elphingstone plans to attend medical school and become an orthopedic surgeon.