2013 Commencement Award Recipients

Mary Mildred Sullivan Award recipient Lainie Sowell
Mary Mildred Sullivan Award recipient Lainie Sowell
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Converse College presented the following honors and awards during the 2013 Commencement Exercises:


The highest academic honor given to a student in the disciplines of art and sciences bears the name of Elford C. Morgan, who served Converse from 1932 until 1959 as Professor of English and Dean of Administration. The memory of Dr. Morgan is associated with the noblest ideals of scholarly life. The award is given by the family of Dr. Morgan to the senior with the highest academic record in the College of Arts and Sciences. The 2013 recipient is Victoria Broome.


The Pi Kappa Lambda Award recognizes the graduating senior with the highest grade point average in the Petrie School of Music Chapter of this national music honor society. The 2013 recipient is Abigail Louise Pruett, who graduated summa cum laude with distinction in performance and received the Bachelor of Music in Music Education. She will pursue graduate study in Arts Management.


The Kathryne Amelia Brown Award was established at Converse College by the late Mr. and Mrs. James Douglas Brown of Ozark, Alabama in memory of their daughter, a member of the class of 1970, to recognize faculty members who have excelled in the classroom. This year's recipient is Associate Professor of Flute and Musicology Dr. Christopher Vaneman.

One of Dr. Vaneman's graduate students noted that, "As a teacher Dr. Vaneman proved to be more than what I had hoped for. H[is work with me] heralded a brand new phase in my journey in flute performance. I was struck by his ability to explain technical, musical, and artistic issues with depth and clarity. Dr. Vaneman is a brilliant intellectual who manages to strike a balance between the ideal and pragmatic."

Dr. Vaneman is known for his accessibility to students. A student wrote that "he is witty and always pleasant, making him one of the most popular professors among students." His dean commends him as "an active musician who retains the respect and admiration of . . . colleagues" and calls him "an insightful leader who engages curricular and interpersonal problems . . . with a focus on finding workable solutions."

Dr. Vaneman holds two master's degrees and the doctor of Musical Arts from Yale University. He has an extraordinary list of performance activities and is currently serving as President of the South Carolina Flute Society.


Dr. Siegwart Reichwald was honored for outstanding faculty accomplishments in the area of scholarly and creative achievement.

Dr. Reichwald is widely recognized as one of this country's foremost Mendelssohn scholars as his impressive record of publications, research, and conference presentations amply demonstrate. His recommenders note that "Dr. Reichwald is internationally recognized as a leading scholar in the life and work of German composer Felix Mendelssohn. Dr. Reichwald's long list of publications includes the books The Musical Genesis of Felix Mendelssohn's Paulus and Mendelssohn in Performance, where he served as the books' editor and as a contributor of two chapters."

Since coming to Converse in 2004, Dr. Reichwald has shown himself to be an outstanding teacher in the Petrie School of Music and a fine mentor to students. His scholarly work has enabled him to make presentations at conferences across the country and at international conferences in Italy, England, Germany, Canada, and Switzerland.

Dr. Reichwald has provided instruction to many music students pursuing Honors in Field. A number of his students have appreciated his expert mentoring of their undergraduate research projects and have gone on to impressive scholarly work leading to their own professional presentations, to graduate work, and to successful careers.


Each year Converse College honors a graduating senior who has made exemplary contributions to the life of the College and her fellow students as well as to the community at large. In honoring this student, we acknowledge the importance of the development of outstanding citizenship both at Converse and in the world beyond our campus. The College celebrates the significance of these contributions by presenting the Mary Mildred Sullivan Award for Outstanding Citizenship to a graduating senior who has given unselfish service and is dedicated to sharing with others, bringing to Converse a spirit of humane participation in the life of her community.

The 2013 recipient, Kathryn Lainie Sowell, exemplifies nobility of character and service to others. She has volunteered at many institutions, including the Charles Lea Center, and in special education classrooms at several area schools. She has also been active in several student associations, including Mortar Board, Honor Board, Student Government Association, Daniels Leader Program, Orientation Team, Residential Life, and the Bonner Leader AmeriCorps program where she completed three service terms and logged 1,100 volunteer hours. She was also instrumental in planning and implementing the Hunger and Homelessness Week at Converse and the "Be the Match" Bone Marrow Drive. Her passion to serve the needs of children with intellectual and learning disabilities is evident in every aspect of her life. As a student, she has excelled in the Education Department earning a 3.95 GPA. As an advocate, she has chosen to work with this population in her student teaching placements and by speaking up to dispel stereotypes about people with intellectual and learning disabilities. This year's recipient has been accepted as a Corp Member for Teach for America, and upon graduation will head to Louisiana for two years where she will be a teacher in an elementary-level classroom in a low-income school. Her acceptance into this prestigious program confirms her genuine compassion for people and her desire to make a difference in their lives.


Each year, Converse presents the Mary Mildred Sullivan Award to a member of the greater Spartanburg community, recognizing unselfish service, dedication to sharing with others, and humane participation in the life of her community. The service of the Mary Mildred Sullivan Award recipient makes her an example to all of us at Converse, one to whom we look for inspiration.

The 2013 recipient, Jayne McQueen, has been a pillar of the Spartanburg community in her long service as CEO of Mobile Meals. She built the organization from the ground up, starting with a few volunteers in the kitchen at First Presbyterian Church, and now serving approximately 2,000 people each weekday. Mobile Meals receives no government funding so it can maintain its Christian mission. Jayne's program is a national model for Meals on Wheels programs and has won national accolades as an example of best practices for similar programs. Jayne has been a visionary in extending the services offered to provide a nursing ministry, transportation services, and even pet food delivery so shut-ins can have pet companions.

Jayne was a recipient of the Order of the Palmetto, and the Spartanburg Chamber of Commerce honored her with the Duke Power Community Service Award in 2009. Converse is honored to recognize her deep-rooted conviction to helping others and her impact on the life of the Spartanburg community.