Senior Alumni Awards
This award recognizes two deserving seniors, who based on their undergraduate career, show promise of making significant contributions to and leadership in their careers, their community and/or Ursinus College.
2023 Senior Alumni Awards
Serena Rose Gaskin
Q&A with Serena and Michael
Q: Why was getting involved important to you as an Ursinus Student?
Gaskin: Being involved on campus is what allows me to feel connected to my college community. I knew that Ursinus would offer me a variety of opportunities to grow and discover who I am. Therefore, I wanted to immerse myself in as many extracurricular activities as I could, while maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Through my involvement on campus, I have been able to meet others in academic disciplines and departments that I would not have otherwise met if it were not for the spaces I ventured to join.
Green: Getting involved was important to me because I wanted to focus on personal growth during my time in college. Every way I have gotten involved has allowed me to work on my leadership, communication, and other soft skills. Ursinus gave me the chance to move outside of my comfort zone and I will always be thankful for that.
Q: What is your proudest UC moment?
Gaskin: A moment where I have felt the greatest sense of pride at Ursinus was during a men’s basketball game I attended my junior year. We had less than 30 seconds on the clock to score at least 2 points to tie with the opposing team. The gymnasium was packed with anxious and excited UC students, parents, and staff. With everyone standing on the bleachers, we watched with pounding hearts and giddy excitement over what we hoped would be a chance for overtime. The moments leading up to our eventual loss gave me a pure adrenaline rush. I remember feeling like a true community, like a college student, as we all rooted for Ursinus with anxious anticipation and excitement for what was to come. There is something special about coming together as a unit to support a group of people you want to see succeed. On that day, I was the proudest I have ever been to be a member of the Ursinus community.
Green: My proudest moments are when someone recognizes me as their tour guide or someone who spoke at one of their admission events. Visiting campus was a huge part of my decision to attend Ursinus and I became a tour guide to have that impact on others. Anytime someone remembers me I know that I am doing more than working a campus job, I am having a legitimate impact on someone’s education and that means a lot to me.
Q: How is winning a Senior Alumni Award significant in your career trajectory?
Gaskin: What I believe to be one of the greatest aspects about the Senior Alumni Award is the fact that the award recipients are nominated by individuals in the campus community. There is great significance in having other people speak so highly about your leadership skills both on and off campus. To be a recipient of this wonderful award is to embody and affirm that I am a leader and capable of creating a positive environment for the spaces I am a part of. As an aspiring social worker with plans to focus on promoting healthy child development, I can confidently enter my field knowing who I am today and what I have to offer in my career.
Green: Winning this award is important to me because it lets me know that I was able to make a difference during my time at Ursinus. I feel prepared to make a difference in my community after graduation, and hopefully have a real impact on others.
Q: What does being a “Bear for Life” mean to you?
Gaskin: To be a “Bear for Life” is to continually consider and apply the 4 Core (Quest) Questions in my future endeavors. Ursinus has allowed me to grow and develop academically and personally, and because of this lasting impact, I am a “Bear for Life”.
Green: To me, being a Bear for Life means acknowledging the impact that our time at Ursinus has had on our life. I am leaving here a completely different person and I can attribute that growth to every student, faculty, staff member, alumni, and any other bear I have got the chance to interact with during my time.
Q: How has Ursinus prepared you for your future career aspirations?
Gaskin: Ursinus has an abundance of opportunities for students to explore and challenge themselves both in and outside of the classroom. This is the beauty of the liberal arts. Because Ursinus allows students to declare their major as early as their freshman year, I have been able to finish my psychology major requirements without duress. Beyond the classroom, my participation in academic research has made it possible for me to bypass certain requirements in my graduate program. Engaging in research enlightened me to a variety of careers I had never considered before, such as the work of a doula, which I learned about through the completion of my 2020 Summer Fellows Research. Through the Advanced Research Methods classes in psychology, I discovered that I am most interested in developmental psychology, and in tandem with doula work, I have learned that my passions lie in neonatal and infantile mental health and development. What is just as important as the work I do in my career, is the character I have in completing it. Ursinus has stimulated positive character development within me through opportunities to develop my leadership and communication skills. This has been best represented by the extracurricular activities I have been a part of and the campus events I have been invited to speak at (i.e., being a speaker at the MLK Beloved Community Interfaith Service and being a student panelist for various Admissions events). Finally, I have been able to refine my professional skills and business etiquette because of the jobs I have had on campus, one of which I have been at since my freshman year (The Office of Student Financial Services). Ursinus works diligently to prepare students not just academically, but for the world at large.
Green: Ursinus has helped my career aspirations by allowing me to meet professors that care about me in and out of the classroom. I always gravitated toward the core question of “What will I do?” and I feel prepared to answer that question as I leave Ursinus. My postgrad plans started with a professor sending an email about something he thought I would be interested in. If not for that I don’t know where I would be right now.
Q: How do you see yourself getting involved with Ursinus after graduation?
Gaskin: I plan to remain an active member of the Ursinus community after graduation. UC has significantly contributed to who I am today, and I want to honor my experience by continuing to remain connected to the college. Because I will be attending a 2-year graduate program in Pennsylvania, I have plans to join the Alumni Council and attend programming events the college hosts. I am excited that in this next phase of my life, I will remain close enough to UC that I can be an active alumna.
Green: I would like to get involved with the alumni network and any opportunities that come from that. Whether volunteering or networking for current students I want Ursinus to be a part of my life for much longer than these past four years.
Q: What are you most looking forward to after graduation?
Gaskin: I am most looking forward to applying all of the things I have learned about the world and myself while at Ursinus, to my life outside of UC. At the ripe age of 21, I have so much life to live and so many places to see and things to try. I have a sense of exhilaration for the lessons and blessings that await me!
Green: What I look forward to most is getting to see where my classmates go and what they will accomplish after graduation. I think our class has some trailblazers and I can’t wait to see what they do in their fields.
Q: What advice do you have for your fellow UC Bears on how to make their mark on Ursinus’s campus?
Gaskin: If you want to make your mark at Ursinus, my advice would be to not worry about making your mark at Ursinus. A little redundant, but what I mean is, don’t get caught up in doing something you think will get you recognition and popularity. A lot of times, you’ll recognize that your passions directed in the right places with the help of wise advisers, will put you in positions that will allow you to make your mark. Consider what it is you’re passionate about, and how you see those passions coming to fruition. Then start talking to people. I have had some of the best opportunities offered to me simply because I took the time to stop, talk, and listen to others. Going along with that, in the midst of our UC culture to be engaged with every and anything possible, I would advise you to take the time to remember your worth as a human. The work you may be so passionate about producing is only as good as you are: mentally, psychologically, spiritually, and physically. You go to Ursinus, so I know you know the meaning of “being engaged” — I can bet that most students here would describe our student body as involved and driven. That drive may already be within you, so know that that is something you only need to cultivate. Trust yourself and know your limits. Become comfortable with saying no. People respect individuals who respect themselves. Setting boundaries can be difficult, but it is one of the most useful skills you could get out of your undergraduate experience. And to make your mark on campus, know that that doesn’t always mean you have to be the greatest, best, or most talented person at UC. Your mark could be that when people see you, you always greet them with a smile. It could be that you take the time to talk to the Wismer staff between meals. In remembering your humanness, you will also be cognizant of the humanness of those around you. I believe in you, and I know you will do great things during your time at Ursinus, and beyond. Your mark will be made. After all, you are a fellow Bear :)
Green: My advice would be to have big goals and learn to advocate for yourself. Always set your goals as high as possible because you are capable of more than you think. There are people all over the over campus who want to help you be your best and achieve your goals. Find those people and find what success means to you.
Previous Senior Alumni Award Recipients
2019: Jonathan Myers ’19 and Susana Zelaya Rivera ’19
2018: Allison Cook ’18 and Christopher Tan ’18
2017: Madelyn Franklin ’17 and Brian Thomas ’17
2016: Edward Lee ’16 and Dominique Saturno ’16
2015: Riley K. Acton ’15 and Sanil S. Patel ’15
2014: Zeba Hussaini ’14 and Gerald M. Gares ’14
2013: Madeline K. McEvily ’13 and Corey J. Barkers ’13