Jessica Ann Wilson '12, President's Medalist
B.S., biology and sociology/anthropology
Grand Rapids, Mich.
Jessica, as a double major in sociology/anthropology and biology, you are known to be as passionate about social issues as you are about studying bacteria. Your nominators describe you as a sensitive team player, an invaluable contributor to class discussions, and a spectacular presenter of scientific knowledge. As a junior you received the Margaret Ann Watkin Award for your academic excellence and for your passion for biology and learning. In your research, you work with bacteria called Burkholderia cenocepacia, which is commonly found in the airways of patients with cystic fibrosis. Hardworking, dedicated, and enthusiastic—you have proven yourself as a scientist by persisting in your research despite methodological difficulties. Not only did you engage in complex research involving cloning, but you continued what was intended to be only summer research throughout the following academic year. Despite the challenges you encountered in your research, you continued to ask the professor in the neighboring lab about the progress of the students in that professor's biology course, because you were interested in how their work was coming along.
Outside of the science classroom, your leadership has created a wide swath of achievement. You served as a teaching assistant for the Biology Department, and you have also been a stellar resident assistant and head resident. You served on the Martin Luther King Jr. commemoration planning committee, chaired the Homelessness and Hunger Committee, and served as a member of Alpha Epsilon Delta. Among your honors and awards are Denison Community Association Rookie Volunteer of the Year and the Distinguished Leadership Award. In reading about you, it becomes clear that a commitment to deep communication in the process of community building characterizes your contribution to Denison. For example, one nominator states that you are "unafraid to speak (your) mind; but more importantly, (you're) unafraid to truly listen to what others have to say." True to your core values, you found a way to cultivate both self expression and active listening in your contributions to Sustained Dialogue—at different times as president and as coordinator of the Sustained Dialogue moderators, and in Denison's "Listening for a Change Program," which brings members from all areas of the college into dialogue about diversity. Known for your indefatigable spirit, you entered Denison with the idea of becoming a medical doctor who would work with underserved populations, especially Spanish-speaking immigrants. Clearly your time at Denison has prepared the path for you to realize this dream.
For always going beyond what is expected to achieve scientific merit and to reach the height of community building for social justice, this 2012 President's Medal is bestowed upon Jessica Ann Wilson.