D'Youville students achieve academic success, serve their communities, and support one another throughout the year. Honors Convocation is a celebration of that work.
Honors Convocation is an opportunity for the entire D’Youville community to celebrate the academic achievements of some of our top students, as well as those students who not only achieve academic success but also show great leadership ability, service to the community, and compassion for their fellow students.
Each academic department honors select students for their academic achievements, and the most prestigious awards that D'Youville presents to students — the D’Youville Medal, the Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart Medal, the Lee Conroy Higgins Award, and the St. Catherine’s of Alexandria Medal — are bestowed on students at Honors Convocation.
RaShon is a Texas native and first-generation college graduate. She is attended Jarvis
Christian College, a private historically black college, in Texas. While at Jarvis
she received a B.S in Kinesiology with the intent to become a physical therapist but
her time on campus was also filled with many involvement opportunities. She was an
honors student, represented Jarvis at several conferences, was Miss Pre-Alumni: 2015-2016,
served in Student Government Association in several capacities including Student Body
President from 2017-2018, and was the 2017-2018 Membership Chair for the Zeta Chi
Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. These student engagements, combined with
her personal passions, brought RaShon to the realization that she no longer had an
interest in becoming a physical therapist, rather she started pursuing the opportunity
of becoming a voice for students.
After graduating from Jarvis, RaShon began a higher education administration program at the University of Central Arkansas. While attending UCA she experienced first-hand what it was like to be a student of color at a predominately white institution. This experience led her to the discovery of the ODC, the Office of Diversity and Community. It was through the ODC that RaShon learned to use her voice as a powerful tool to be an advocate and ally for marginalized students. RaShon’s volunteer work and dedication to the ODC led to her position in the office where she served as the advisor to Women of Excellence and the Co-advisor to the Minority Mentorship – two groups that opened doors and offered access to success for marginalized students at UCA.
RaShon, like many of you here today, completed the last year of her program and started to look for her next career opportunity during a global pandemic. RaShon knew her search for a position would be complicated by COVID-19 restrictions but there was an extra layer of complication added to the process because RaShon was looking for a very specific position at a very specific institution. The position RaShon was looking for was in the area of student inclusion but the institution she was looking for was currently unknown to her. She knew that once she found a school that aligned with her personal beliefs and mission everything would be clear to her. Taking a leap of faith, RaShon applied for the Cultural Enrichment position offered here at D’Youville and self-discloses that when she applied the only things she knew about Buffalo was that it snowed a lot and was known for wings. RaShon also discloses that it was during her interview process that she got to connect with students, understand more about D’Youville, and just as she knew would happen – everything was clear to her.
RaShon shared that “D’Youville’s spotlight on change is what drew her to the position.” Adding that our focus at D’Youville is unlike others that she had seen in higher education.”
Upon joining our community in December, RaShon started working immediately to bring positive and effective change to our campus. Some of these changes include starting the work of rebuilding a number of marginalized student organizations that have dissolved over the years, creating and unveiling the PUP program – a peers uplifting peers mentorship program, and developing a diversity peer educator program for our community.
As the inaugural coordinator for our Cultural Enrichment Center, RaShon has a lot of responsibilities to manage but it is clear to me that she is more than capable of not only managing these responsibilities but exceeding them. This is evidenced by the month-long comprehensive program that RaShon just finished honoring and celebrating Black History Month. A space on campus that was once quiet staff offices has transformed into one of our newest student spaces on campus and it is not unusual to walk past the Cultural Enrichment Center and hear students talking, laughing, and building community.
RaShon’s work and vision is exactly why we have invited her to speak to you all today. Her passion and commitment to supporting and amplifying students with marginalized identities reflects the mission and life of our own Saint Marguerite d’Youville – who you know never refused to serve those in need. Please join me in welcoming RaShon Thomas, D’Youville’s Coordinator for Cultural Enrichment.
The D'Youville Medal
The D’Youville Medal is awarded annually to a senior who, exemplifying the spirit and ideals of D'Youville, is deemed outstanding for achievement, service and loyalty to the college.
The Grey Nun of the Sacred Heart Medal
The Grey Nun of the Sacred Heart Medal is awarded annually to a graduate student who has demonstrated outstanding academic achievement as well as service to D'Youville and the larger community.
The Lee Conroy Higgins Award
The Lee Conroy Higgins Award, presented annually by the alumni association, recognizes a senior for outstanding support of and involvement in campus activities and shows concern for fellow students.
The St. Catherine of Alexandria Medal
The St. Catherine of Alexandria Medal, presented by the Buffalo Chapter of Kappa Gamma Pi, is awarded annually to a junior who is outstanding in scholarship and notable for service to the college and community.
The Saints Crest Medal
The Saints Crest Medal is given to a graduating student who embraces the core values of D’Youville while striving to improve our campus culture and society as a whole. Recognizing outstanding personal development and holistic involvement, the Saints Crest Medal recognizes a student who has worked selflessly in prompting social change - resulting in a better tomorrow for future Saints.
Candidates for these awards are nominated by the faculty and employees of the college, with final selection by an ad hoc committee.
Department awards are conferred annually on those students who demonstrate mastery of subject content and exemplify service to the college and community.