SPS Outstanding Service Award
"for their service to Davidson College, demonstration of extraordinary strength in character, an extreme dedication to the field of physics, and unwavering perseverance in the face of adversity"
Andrea is a senior physics major at Davidson College who has been extremely active in the service mission of our Department, Women in Physics, and the Society of Physics Students. As you will read below, in addition to her service she is an individual who has demonstrated extraordinary strength in character, an extreme dedication to the field of physics, and unwavering perseverance in the face of adversity. Andrea has certainly been a light in our department and her influence on other students extends well beyond the visible spectrum. The inspiration and support that she provides to students often occurs behind the scenes, extending from the visible into the invisible. She is a champion of equity and inclusion and outwardly demonstrates her commitment by placing these values above her own personal success and recognition. Her service to students and the department has been more significant and widely reaching than even she realizes.
To fully communicate the service that Andrea has provided will require speaking a bit about her background. I want to acknowledge that Andrea has been very open with everyone about the challenges that I am about to describe, so I feel comfortable including them in this letter. Andrea began her Davidson career in Fall 2016 and expected to graduate with the Class of 2020. However, life had different plans. In December 2018, Andrea was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia, a type of blood cancer. This diagnosis resulted in intensive chemo treatments, a bone marrow transplant in May 2019, and chronic graft vs host disease (a side effect of the bone marrow transplant in which the donor cells see your body as foreign). Treatment ultimately required Andrea to take a semester of leave from Davidson College, postponing her graduation until 2021. A video and story about Andrea’s journey can be found on the Davidson College website and on the site for ESPN.
Andrea’s character and positivity have deeply influenced students, faculty, and staff at Davidson College. When asked about her loss of hair from the treatments, the ESPN story quotes Andrea as saying “I’ll rock this look. At least I can feel the breeze.” This attitude is contagious and speaking with Andrea is a source of encouragement for students who are facing academic and/or personal challenges. After all, when things got difficult for her, she didn’t get discouraged but instead asked “What’s next? Where do I go from here?” After beating cancer and recovering, what came next was returning to Davidson College, dedicating herself to completing her physics major, getting involved in physics research, and serving as a rock for students who needed support and encouragement.
I can confidently say that we have all been made better for knowing Andrea. Whether it was through the outreach and service duties of her positions in SPS and WiP, by way of encouragement in a time of difficulty, or as a behind-the-scenes cheerleader for our success, Andrea has served us all in a way that we will never forget.