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Graduates and Rhodes Supporters Presented Awards at Commencement

Publication Date: 5/17/2010

Annual awards were presented at the 161st Commencement Exercises of Rhodes College on May 15. Graduates Allyson Leigh Pellissier and Joel Philip Iwaskiewicz and FedEx Manager Andrew Russell received the 2010 Algernon Sydney Sullivan Awards. The awards are presented annually to two graduating seniors (one male and one female) and one non-student who have given selflessly to others and the college.

Pellissier of Mandeville, LA, graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor of arts degree in economics and mathematics. She also completed honors research and was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa her junior year. One student wrote in nominating her for the award that “Allyson’s legacy at Rhodes may be defined in a simple way. She is known by the student body as someone who is constantly smiling and always willing to lend a hand.” It also was stated that Pellissier would take calls in the middle of the night to help students who were having difficulties with their econometrics homework. In addition, Pellissier has served as Student Allocations Board Treasurer organizing the activity fee allocation process for all student organizations. She also has been a regular volunteer with Advocates for the Homeless and the Rhodes Souper Contact soup kitchen.

Iwaskiewicz of Nashua, NH, graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor of arts degree in English. He accepted membership in Phi Beta Kappa this year and was inducted into the Rhodes Hall of Fame for the Class of 2010. Too, he was named “Mr. Rhodes” last fall. A Writing Fellow for the Department of English, Iwaskiewicz tutored and assisted students with their compositions. He also has served others through the arts by participating in the More Than Art program for the homeless and by leading the Woolsocks, the men’s a cappella group at Rhodes. In addition, Iwaskiewicz served on the planning committees for Rhodes’ Tex-Mex Border Ministry and for this year’s Alternative Spring Break Trip to Costa Rica. Wrote one student about him, “Joel’s humble leadership never boasts, but instead he is literally always primed to be an encouraging and empowering character in others’ lives.”

As Manager of International Solutions at FedEx, Russell has placed more than 100 Rhodes students in domestic and international internships at FedEx locations for more than 15 years. At the personal level, he mentors Rhodes students, supervising at least one student every semester in international-related positions at his Memphis office, for which he routinely receives rave reviews.

Maddie Callis, a member of this year’s graduating class, interned at FedEx and says, “Andrew Russell’s considerate style of leadership inspires everyone to work to the best of their abilities. In my internship, he always fostered my ideas and valued my perspective, even though I was just a student. I feel very fortunate to call him a mentor.”


At commencement, Allyson Pellissier also received the Peyton Nalle Rhodes Phi Beta Kappa Prize given to the graduating senior who exemplifies the highest qualities of scholarship. Said Professor Gail Streete in presenting her the award, “Allyson, you have written what may be one of the most insightful comments ever offered by an emerging scholar: ‘I have grown quite comfortable with the possibility of being wrong.’ Such rare self-reflexivity has characterized your scholarship at Rhodes and fueled your interest as an economics-mathematics bridge major in difficult and challenging areas of study and their intersections.” Pellissier also was described as one interested in “figuring out the puzzle” and practicing the kind of intellectual humility that follows the “moral imperative to seek the truth, regardless of academic reputation.”


The Distinguished Service Medal was presented to longtime Rhodes College Trustee Dr. C. Stratton Hill, Jr. of Houston, TX. A member of the Rhodes Class of 1950, he also is professor emeritus of medicine at The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, where he served on the faculty for 35 years.

A world-renowned authority on the treatment of acute and chronic pain, Hill founded the Pain Treatment Service in 1981 and worked with Texas Lieutenant Governor Bill Hobby in 1989 to pass the nation’s first Intractable Pain Treatment Act. He also is a founding member and past president of the Texas Pain Society and founder of the Texas Cancer Pain Initiative. In June, Hill will receive the 2010 Mayor’s Volunteer Houston Award for his tireless service.


Also at commencement, Mayor of Memphis A C Wharton, Jr. received the Honorary Doctor of Humanities degree from the college.

Congratulations to the Class of 2010!



Tags: Alumni, Campus Life, Events, Honors, Service, Students


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