Seven seniors honored with President’s Graduating Leader Awards

This year’s seven President’s Graduating Leader Awardees with (front, center) President Stoltzfus: (front, left to right) Julia Jun, Mariela Esparza, Sofia Sanchez; (back, left to right) Manny Villanueva, Eduardo Horiba Curvo, Nelson Kemboi, Dan Eash-Scott.

Goshen College President Rebecca Stoltzfus recently honored seven graduating seniors with the second annual President’s Graduating Leader Award during a special banquet ceremony on April 10 (view photos from the event). This award is presented to outstanding seniors who demonstrate academic excellence and leadership inside and outside of the classroom, and they are chosen through a competitive nomination process which includes faculty and staff recommendations. The student awardees receive a $500 award as part of the honoring.

This year’s honorees include:

  • Dan Eash-Scott, a senior history major from Wauwatosa, Wisconsin
  • Mariela Esparza, a senior English major from Elkhart, Indiana
  • Eduardo Horiba Curvo, a senior accounting major from Brazil
  • Julia Jun, a senior music and secondary education double major from Malaysia
  • Nelson Kemboi, a senior nursing major from Kenya
  • Sofia Sanchez, a senior music major from Elkhart
  • Manny Villanueva, a senior business major from Stryker, Ohio

Dan Eash-Scott

Dan Eash-Scott

Dan Eash-Scott, a senior history major and journalism minor from Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, has been a prominent figure in fostering community engagement during his tenure at the college.

Engaged in a variety of campus activities, including his involvement and leadership with The Record, Prevention Intervention Network, Vox Profundi, Chamber Choir and Peer Wellness Educators, Eash-Scott has consistently demonstrated a dedication to enhancing the collegiate experience for his peers. His senior thesis, an examination of the student experience at GC at a highly polarized time for the school, combined his commitment to journalism, interest in history and passion for student advocacy, reflecting his multifaceted approach to leadership and learning. He plans to continue his journey by attending law school after taking a gap year, hoping to focus in immigration defense law.

Reflecting on receiving the President’s Graduating Leader Award allowed Eash-Scott to appreciate his contributions to the college. “Being recognized alongside these amazing individuals is such an honor. I deeply appreciate the acknowledgment of my contributions to this campus community, and I hope I’ve inspired other students to do the same,” he said.

Eash-Scott was nominated for the award by Duane Stoltzfus, professor of communication and director of Goshen College Adult and Graduate Programs, and Kellam Venosky, senior admissions counselor at GC.

“During his four years at Goshen College, I’ve learned to know Dan well as a professor in the classroom, as an academic advisor, as the faculty advisor to The Record, as the first draft editor for his weekly GC sports column in The Goshen News, as a sports fan who watched him serve as an unofficial squirrel mascot at home games and as a preliminary round judge in the Peace Oratorical Contest,” said Stoltzfus.

“Dan is many things, but the one I use to describe him is passionate. He is passionate about people, about service, about sports, about the arts, about history, about the world we live in and the list goes on and on,” said Venosky.

Mariela Esparza

Mariela Esparza

Mariela Esparza, a senior English and secondary education double major from Elkhart, Indiana, has been a driving force for positive change during her time at the college.

Through her involvement in various campus organizations, including PinchPennyPress and the Black Student Union, Esparza has advocated for inclusivity and social justice. Her leadership roles and academic achievements highlight her commitment to making a difference. After graduation, Mariela plans to continue her pursuit of social justice through an internship with Sojourners before pursuing graduate studies.

Winning a President’s Graduating Leader Award holds deep significance for Esparza. “It’s huge. Sometimes it can feel like I put in a lot of work and invested in Goshen College, and it’s nice to feel seen,” she said.

Esparza was nominated for the award by Jessica Baldanzi, professor of English at GC.

“Mariela is an outspoken, dedicated and passionate leader. She has developed a clear sense of what’s important to her and to the world, and she finds ways not only to take action to achieve those goals, but to encourage others to do their best work toward those goals,” said Baldanzi.

Eduardo Horiba Curvo

Eduardo Horiba Curvo

Eduardo Horiba Curvo, a senior accounting major from Brazil, has distinguished himself as a leader both inside and outside the classroom at Goshen College.

As an accounting major with a business minor, Horiba Curvo has excelled academically while also actively contributing to campus life as a residence life assistant and assistant resident director. His dedication to his studies is evident as he completes an extra semester to fulfill requirements for the CPA exam. Post-graduation, Horiba Curvo will transition into a job in accounting with Insight in Goshen.

Winning a President’s Graduating Leader Award is a testament to Horiba Curvo’s impact. “It is a great honor to be alongside my fellow awardees. None of us do what we do to be recognized and win awards, but it is nice to feel that impact,” he said.

Curvo was nominated for the award by the GC Business Department faculty.

“Eduardo demonstrates academic and athletic excellence. He is a responsible student, has a friendly disposition and works well with his classmates,” said the department members.

Julia Jun

Julia Hyeyin Jun

Julia Hyeyin Jun, a senior music and education double major from South Korea and Malaysia, is an exemplary leader and scholar at Goshen College.

Her extensive involvement in campus activities, such as Voices of the Earth choir and Chamber Choir, and her service as a Music Theory tutor and teaching assistant, reflect her dedication to both music and education. Jun’s commitment to fostering community engagement is evident in her roles as a campus Unity Club Bible study co-leader and devotionals team co-leader during choir tours. Post-graduation, Jun aspires to pursue graduate studies and become a professor and researcher, focusing on inter-religious dialogue and multiculturalism. She hopes to contribute to academic scholarship, particularly in Malaysia.

Winning a President’s Graduating Leader Award is a proud moment of gratitude for Jun. “This recognition is a deep source of gratitude for me. I owe it to the unwavering support of my faith, family, friends, mentors and professors. It affirms my dedication to academic excellence and inspires me to continue making a positive impact in my community,” she said.

Jun was nominated for the award by Suzanne Ehst, professor of education and director of Secondary Education at GC, and Matthew Hill, professor of music and GC Music Department chair.

“Julia is a model of passionate learning, compassionate peacemaking and servant
leadership,” said Ehst.

“Several words immediately spring to mind when considering Julia for this award, words such as sacrifice, fortitude, faith, wisdom and time. Julia has made many sacrifices to live so far from her family and from that which is most familiar to her. She has grown in a type of inner strength and fortitude as a result of these sacrifices,” said Hill.

Nelson Kemboi

Nelson Kemboi

Nelson Kemboi, a senior nursing major from Kenya, has made remarkable contributions to both the academic and extracurricular life at Goshen College.

In addition to excelling in his studies, Kemboi has demonstrated exceptional leadership as a member of the track and field and cross-country teams. His commitment to healthcare extends beyond the classroom, as he has engaged in a nursing internship, showcasing his dedication to serving others. After graduation, Kemboi will continue his journey as he begins his career as a nurse with Goshen Health.

Winning a President’s Graduating Leader Award holds significant meaning for Kemboi. “This award means a lot to me because it means that people were watching me from a distance, noticing what I did, which is impressive to me,” he said.

Kemboi was nominated for the award by and Rustin Nyce, GC cross country head coach and track and field director of operations, and Kellam Venosky.

“I cannot name another person with more integrity, dignity and humility than Nelson. He is a man of true character,” said Nyce.

“He is a leader on the track and cross country courses, and an All-American athlete, so he provides leadership not only to the teams at GC but to the other teams,” said Venosky.

Sofia Sanchez

Sofia Sanchez

Sofia Sanchez, a senior music major from Elkhart, has been an integral part of the vibrant community at Goshen College.

Her involvement in numerous extracurricular activities, including serving as an instructor for the ECoSistema program and performing with various musical ensembles, reflects her passion for both education and the arts. Sanchez’s post-graduation plans include pursuing graduate studies in music performance and teaching, a testament to her dedication to her craft.

Winning a President’s Graduating Leader Award signifies a significant milestone in Sanchez’s journey. “This is a big realization for me, building confidence, that I have a purpose here and that my journey has been worthwhile,” she said.

Sanchez was nominated for the award by Solomia Soroka, professor of music at GC.

“I am impressed with her determination in overcoming difficulties as a recent immigrant, and her ability in integrating in the Goshen College community and practicing Goshen College core values,” said Soroka.

Manny Villanueva

Manny Villanueva

Manny Villanueva, a senior business major from Stryker, Ohio, has left a lasting impact on Goshen College through his involvement in various activities and initiatives.

As a co-founder of the One Circle group, a campus club dedicated to raising indigenous voices, Villanueva has shown his commitment to social justice and community empowerment. Alongside his participation in track and field and cross-country, Manny has embraced opportunities for personal growth and leadership development. While his post-graduation plans are still taking shape, Villanueva aims to explore vocational training as a pathway to further success.

Winning a President’s Graduating Leader Award is a validation of Villanueva’s journey. “It really means a lot to me that all I’ve done, and all the growth I’ve had has been seen and I can share that experience with others,” he said.

Villanueva was nominated for the award by Rustin Nyce, his cross country head coach.

“Manny is the consummate teammate that every coach dreams of and every team needs. He is hard-working, selfless and intentional about what he does because he knows his teammates look to him for mentorship,” said Nyce.

In addition, each student awardee chose an outstanding Goshen College employee who supported their development to also be recognized with their own awards.

  • Dan Eash-Scott chose Duane Stoltzfus, professor of communication and director of GC Adult and Graduate Programs
  • Mariela Esparza chose Lawrence Giden, community engagement coordinator at GC
  • Eduardo Horiba Curvo chose Chandler Buchfeller, director of residence life and housing at GC, and Kevin Schultz, assistant director of residence life at GC
  • Julia Jun chose Suzanne Ehst, professor of education and director of Secondary Education at GC, Matthew Hill, professor of music and GC Music Department chair, and Julie Reese, professor of psychology at GC
  • Nelson Kemboi chose Rustin Nyce, GC head coach of cross country and track and field
  • Sofia Sanchez chose Solomia Soroka, professor of music at GC, and Hillary Harder, director of the Community School of the Arts and ECoSistema at GC
  • Manny Villanueva chose Rustin Nyce