2020 Alumni Award Honorees
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our 2020 Alumni Award recipients were honored virtually.
This award recognizes an individual who has reached significant professional achievements through exemplary leadership. Achievements may be specific to a chosen career, industry or entrepreneurial quest. Consideration is also given to the nominee’s contributions to his or her community and the College.
Joy A. O’Grady is a licensed clinical psychologist with a specialization in neuropsychology. Her passion for her chosen field began at Ursinus College, where she earned a BS in psychology in 1994. She then went on to receive an MA in psychology from American University in Washington, D.C., and a PhD in clinical neuropsychology from the University of Memphis.
O’Grady has worked with all ages, assessing and treating patients with a wide variety of neuropsychological problems, including traumatic brain injury, epilepsy, developmental disorders, autism, ADHD, and dementia. While pursuing her PhD, she worked at three different clinics simultaneously—one at the University of Memphis and two at children’s hospitals in the city— providing individual psychotherapy and psychoeducational assessments as well as conducting research on cognitive remediation methods for childhood cancer survivors. After her PhD, O’Grady served for two years as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Virginia Health Sciences Center in Charlottesville, where her exemplary work earned her a scholarship award and the position of Chief Fellow in her final year.
In addition to providing compassionate care to her individual patients, O’Grady has furthered the knowledge of her field through extensive research. She has taught at the University of Memphis, given numerous conference presentations, and co-authored seven publications and books on everything from schizophrenia to chronic fatigue syndrome. She also participates in clinical trials for new medications for patients with dementia and is a rater for four international Alzheimer’s drug trials.
Though much of her early work was in pediatrics, O’Grady now works primarily with adults and seniors at her current practice in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to her private practice, O’Grady provides consultation services for Concierge Medical Practice and Westminster Canterbury, a retirement community in Richmond.
This award recognizes an individual who has made outstanding contributions in the field of education. This award is named for Henry P. and M. Page Laughlin based on their commitment to education and Ursinus College.
A lifelong sports lover, Michael E. Mangan graduated from Ursinus College in 1970 as an All-American football standout. During his senior year of a B.S. in physical education and health, Mangan and the Ursinus football team team won the Southern College Division championship, the college’s first title in 40 years. He also excelled in baseball and wrestling during his time at Ursinus.
For the first 20 years of his career, Mangan served with characteristic vigor as founder, owner and president of Mangan Realty & Investments in Osceola County, Fla. Along the way, he maintained an active presence in his community, especially seeking out opportunities to improve the lives of children through such organizations as the Kiwanis Club (former president) and Central Florida Sunshine for Children (former president and current member of the board of directors). Then, in 1993, Mangan made a dramatic career move in pursuit of his first true passions—sports and education. Deciding to finally pursue his dream of working with special needs children, Mangan pursued a certification in adapted physical education through the state of Florida followed by a masters degree in education at National Louis University. In 1996, he sold Mangan Realty and threw himself fully into his new calling, becoming the Adapted Physical Education Teacher of the Year in Osceola County that same year.
The following year, Mangan moved to Ft. Walton Beach, Fla., to assume the role of adapted physical education teacher at a specialized school for students with varying degrees of mental and physical disabilities. In 1999, he was named Teacher of the Year at that school as well, and in 2000, he was offered the position of adapted physical education coordinator for the entire Okaloosa County School District—35 schools in all.
Mangan has also been heavily involved with Special Olympics, winning Special Olympics Volunteer of the Year in Okaloosa County twice before being inducted into their Hall of Fame in 2004. His hard work has paid off in many ways—one of the athletes Mangan personally taught to ski received two gold medals for skiing at the World Games in Anchorage, Ala., in 1999—but above all, Mangan has received the tremendous joy that comes from selflessly serving others.
This award recognizes an individual who has exhibited outstanding service to society; it pays tribute for time volunteered for the benefits a community or non-profit institutions. Contributions may have been made at local, state or national levels.
Christian C. Rice is a 1998 Ursinus College graduate who has poured himself back into his alma mater through tireless work and selfless service. After receiving his B.A. with distinguished honors in political science and German, Rice, a first-generation college graduate, went on to pursue an M.Div. and a Th.D. from Harvard Divinity School. He then returned to Ursinus in 2007, where he began as a lecturer in philosophy and religious studies and now serves as assistant professor of philosophy and the humanities, assistant dean for civic engagement, and director of the Harold C. Smith Program in Christian Studies.
Rice has always approached his work not merely as a job, but as a calling, an extension of his Christian ministry. Through his various roles at Ursinus, he has mentored and nurtured students both in their academic studies and in their identities as members of a wider community. Nowhere is this more evident than in his work with the Bonner Program. Under the purview of the Ursinus Center for Advocacy, Responsibility and Engagement (UCARE), which Rice cofounded, the Bonner Program is an intensive multi-year commitment, requiring students to perform 10 hours of community service per week (300 hours each school year), attend Saturday Service Days once a month, and participate in a service trip over spring break. Because of these opportunities, students get to meet and work with individuals from both the local and international communities, learning to understand better their needs and their social and economic problems. In 2012, Rice helped formalize this unique mixture of academic and hands-on learning with the creation of the Peace and Social Justice Studies minor at Ursinus.
For over a decade, Rice has devoted countless hours to student recruitment, orientation and service trips, sacrificing evenings, weekends and vacation time to helping the Bonner Program, UCARE, and its students flourish. In 2020, Rice undertook his 11th annual spring break service trip with the Bonners to Beeston Spring, Jamaica, during which he and the students built two homes, painted a church and worked to improve two elementary schools. Unsurprisingly, Rice’s students often go on to do great things after such a transformative experience.
Rice has used his many roles at the college to create opportunities for the marginalized and underprivileged. In addition to cultivating a free on-campus ESL program for Spanish-speaking members of the Ursinus janitorial staff, Rice has helped establish a GED tutoring program with the Montgomery County Correctional Facility and has strengthened the college’s partnership with Camphill, an intentionally integrated community for people with developmental differences. And these are just a few of the more than 30 community partnerships Rice coordinates and supports.
This award recognizes an accomplished graduate of the past 10 years for significant contributions to and leadership in the recipient’s profession, community and/or Ursinus College.
A 2009 Ursinus College graduate, Jennifer I. Thompkins is a passionate leader and community organizer. She lifts those around her, inspiring positive change wherever she goes and nurturing the rising generation as a mentor and devoted advocate for young adults.
Thompkins has embraced every leadership opportunity that has come her way. While earning her B.A. in history at Ursinus, she served as a student activities coordinator, a chaplain assistant and as president of Sankofa Umoja Nia (SUN), the college’s black student union. After graduating with honors and receiving the 2009 Elizabeth B. White Award in history, Thompkins continued to apply her academic and leadership skills at Harvard University, where she earned a Master’s of Theological Studies on a full scholarship while serving as the vice president of the African American Student Union.
For the first four years of her career, Thompkins served the youth of Philadelphia as Director of Y Achievers at the Philadelphia Freedom Valley YMCA. Through the development of teen programming such as guest speakers, college and career preparatory workshops and fun social events, Thompkins grew the organization from 600 to a staggering 1,600 students.
Thompkins’s exemplary work at the Philadelphia YMCA led her to a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity at the World Alliance of YMCAs in Geneva, Switzerland. She spent four months travelling the European Union, writing grants and emergency relief plans, developing leadership curriculum and representing the World Alliance of YMCAs at international embassies and local YMCA movements. In 2017, Thompkins left the YMCA to work as Assistant Director of Youth Programs for TriZen, a business consulting and leadership development company that actively develops the workforce of the Philadelphia area through training and other educational programming. She is now Director of Programs, overseeing youth and adult programs and staff.
Unsurprisingly, Thompkins is just as involved with the community in her free time as she is in her professional life. She currently serves as the Youth Director at the Theist Temple Church of God in Christ in Norristown and as the Young Women of Excellence coordinator for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction Youth Department. A champion of underserved and underrepresented minorities, Thompkins also devotes time to the youth chapter of the Norristown NAACP, helping students plan and achieve their college education goals. To date, she has coached over 100 students in planning their college education.
Senior Alumni Award
Ms. Erin Saybolt will graduate in May with a bachelor of science in biology and a minor in politics & applied ethics. During her time here at Ursinus, she has fully immersed herself in academics, athletics and campus life, becoming a model student, a star member of the field hockey team and a passionate ambassador for Ursinus College.
Saybolt has excelled in her biology studies and sought multiple opportunities to apply her knowledge in the real world. She has served as a biology student instructor, a pharmaceutical market research intern, a research assistant in the biology department with Dr. Beth Bailey and an intern at the Center for Scientific Evidence in Public Issues in Washington, D.C. Currently, Saybolt is a biomedical innovation intern for NIH Citizen Science and Crowdsourcing, where she helps write blog posts and articles about citizen science for citiscibio.org, a website under the purview of the National Institutes of Health dedicated to research, education and collaboration in biomedical citizen science and crowdsourcing. Saybolt’s dedicated work earned her the Faculty Prize in biology in spring 2019 and has led to her election to multiple honors societies, including the Ursinus Whitian Society and Beta Beta Beta, a biological honors society of which Saybolt is president.
Outside of the classroom, Saybolt is a powerhouse on the field. A starting member of the Ursinus women’s field hockey team since her freshman year, Saybolt was named Centennial Conference Rookie of the Year in 2016 and received the Centennial Conference Sportsmanship Award in 2017 for her positive attitude on and off the field. After another stellar performance in her sophomore year, in which she tied for second on the team both for most goals scored and most assists, she was made captain for her junior and senior years.
As a tour guide for Ursinus since spring 2017, Saybolt has used her passion and public speaking prowess to share her love of the college with many prospective students and their families. In spring 2018, in recognition of her dedication and skill, she was made head gold ambassador. For two years she has also served as an admissions visit coordinator, becoming an Admissions senior fellow this year. In this capacity, Saybolt interviews prospective students and facilitates information sessions for them and their families.
After graduation, Erin plans to work on science policy with an ethics focus. She also hopes to eventually pursue a master’s degree in policy as well as a juris doctorate.
Ms. Min Son is double majoring in biology and applied ethics. A born leader, Son has continually sought opportunities to effect positive change on campus and in the community, all while excelling tremendously in her academic pursuits.
Son’s list of awards, accomplishments and projects is seemingly endless. She has been on the Dean’s List all four years, is receiving support through the Steinbright Scholarship and the W. W. Smith Scholars Program, and has been named a recipient of the Biology/Biochemistry Department Faculty Award. She has dedicated her time to other students as an organic chemistry tutor and a Writing Fellow and to the broader community as a UCARE Service Fellow. As a Parlee Center Fellow and Melrose Fellow, Son has continued to focus her attention outwards, helping these organizations study the intersections between science and the public interest, and examine ways to practice civic engagement outside the U.S.
Son is deeply invested in preparing for her future career as a dentist and in helping others realize their own dreams. She has attended multiple medical and leadership conferences across the country and has accumulated over 100 hours of experience as a dental assistant in three different practices. Since 2017, Son has been involved with the Minority Association of Pre-Medical Students (MAPS), organizing events for her fellow students such as free MCAT practice exams, application workshops and events with the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. Not satisfied with simply assisting others to get into medical school, Son created an education outreach program in which she and the members of MAPS teach students in underprivileged communities about public health. Through her involvement with the Summer Fellows Program in 2019, she continued to apply her passion for dentistry and the public good, researching dental ethics and promoting pro bono dental services for underserved patients.
Son has managed to accomplish all of this, and much more, in her second language. A native Korean speaker, Son has devoted much time and energy to helping fellow immigrant students succeed and feel welcome. She spent a semester volunteering for Ursinus’s ESL program and in spring 2018 participated in Ursinus’s Diversity Monologues, performing a monologue on Asian standards and finding her identity beyond her ethnicity. On the lighter side, Son has served in multiple leadership positions of the Japan Club and is founder and president of the Heart and Seoul Korean Culture Club. In these roles, Son brings greater cultural awareness and appreciation to campus through planning and promoting cultural events such as taiko drum performances, kendo (martial arts) demonstrations and upbeat K-pop dance routines. Somehow, Son still has time to work as a resident advisor for Ursinus’s International Housing and First Year Hall, where she is a friend and role model to all those in her care.
After graduation, Son plans to take all of this passion, drive and experience and apply it to her ultimate goal: to become a pediatric dentist and then start her own nonprofit through which dentists will volunteer in underserved immigrant communities.