Three seniors receive 2018 President’s Awards

Mary-Lyn Buckley, Gillian Erlenborn and John Modica were honored for their achievements

Each year, three seniors — one from the Princeton and two from the Lawrenceville campus — are singled out to receive the President’s Award because of the surpassing accomplishment of their academic performance, extracurricular achievement and service to the University.

This year, digital media major Mary-Lyn Buckley and English major John Modica were recognized during an awards ceremony on Sunday, April 29. Earlier in the week, Gillian Erlenborn, a dual degree recipient (a Bachelor of Music in Music Education and Master of Arts in Teaching) received the same award at the Westminster Choir College Spring Convocation. 

The highly competitive selection process for the awards is led by the Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students and supported by faculty and staff who comprise the search committee.

A Provost Scholarship recipient, Buckley is finishing Rider with a 3.46 GPA and is a member of several honor societies. A proud sister of Delta Phi Epsilon, she served two terms as vice president of membership development and formal recruitment counselor for the National Panhellenic Council.

Buckley was an undergraduate on-air freelance reporter for Fox29 News in Philadelphia, writing, producing, shooting and editing her own news packages for Good Day Philadelphia. She was also a contributing writer for The Rider News, the student-run newspaper, and production assistant for the on-campus television station, Rider University Network, and promotions assistant, executive board traffic director and social media director for Rider’s radio station, 107.7 The Bronc. She is now working full time as a news reporter for Verizon FiOS1 New Jersey.

“Mary-Lyn is well on her way to achieving her goal of being a television news reporter,” Dell’Omo said during the ceremony. “It is hard to believe that Mary-Lyn once described herself as a lost freshman who desperately wanted to find direction and the major that fit her best. Mary-Lyn, I think you got that figured out!”

Modica received his award after Buckley. He finished his undergraduate studies with a 3.85 GPA, is a former president, vice president and senate aid to the Student Government Association (SGA). As SGA vice president, he founded the LGBTQ Advisory Board, comprised of students, faculty and staff who worked together to draft a set of queer-friendly recommendations to address the needs and concerns of this important component of Rider's community. He presented the Board’s work and recommendations to senior administration, the Board of Trustees and the University Academic Policy Committee, which recently established the group as a permanent committee to ensure that its work continues.

Modica is also a recipient of Rider’s Undergraduate Research Scholar Award, the Virginia J. Cyrus Award for his advocacy of women and girls and the Office of Campus Life Rising Student Leader of the Year Award, among many other awards and recognitions.

In the fall, Modica will enter a doctoral program in English at the University of Virginia. His ultimate goal is to become a university professor.

In concluding his remarks on Modica, Dell’Omo said, “Rider is that much richer for the indelible mark you are leaving through your leadership, initiative, genuineness and all-around can-do spirit. Congratulations on this well-deserved recognition."

At the earlier ceremony in Princeton, Dell’Omo praised Erlenborn for her character. “Gillian’s passion and her genuine warmth form the foundation of her leadership, encouraging true dialogue and meaningful engagement among students, faculty, staff and Trustees,” he said.

Erlenborn is graduating with a 3.96 GPA. A recipient of the Leadership Award since 2014 in addition to several scholarships, she’s been on the Dean’s List every semester. She has served as SGA president, secretary and treasurer.

Her leadership roles extend beyond Westminster. Erlenborn conducts choirs in the community throughout the school year and assists with several musical theater camps, among other roles. In each of these pursuits, Dell’Omo said, “She has demonstrated a willingness to roll up her sleeves and get the job done.”

Following graduation, Erlenborn intends to teach as an elementary general music teacher and choir director and incorporate the hand chime implementation curriculum she is designing as part of her master’s capstone project.