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Kristina Holsapple is the winner of the 2021 Seitz Award. The fund for the George and Margaret Collins Seitz Award was established in 1954 at UD by Margaret Seitz to honor the memory of her mother and father.

Making way for the whole student

Courtesy of Kristina Holsapple

Rising Honors junior Kristina Holsapple wins 2021 George and Margaret Seitz ‘We Are Blue Hens’ award

The University of Delaware awards a rising first-year or sophomore student $1,500 for embodying the Blue Hen student values of respect, mentorship, engagement, innovation and openness. This annual recognition is facilitated through the Division of Student Life and Office of the Dean of Students, which are pleased to announce Kristina Holsapple as the 2021 Seitz Award recipient. Holsapple is a junior in the UD Honors College, in which she quickly began making an impact on campus through Mosaic, a student-administration collaboration dedicated to promoting multidimensional diversity within the Honors College, and People of All Colors and Communities Together (PACCT) initiatives. Both are spearheaded by students and supported by the college faculty.

Helping people reach their individual potential has always been an area of particular interest for Holsapple, and is part of the reason she has been so committed to her computer science program. Having applied to 13 different colleges and majors “not because I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but because I wanted to do it all,” Holsapple said UD made her feel wanted in a way that no other university has, and that this is a passion she carries forward to help others feel valued. She credits a computer science course with Prof. Cory Bart and the COVID-19 pandemic with helping her find her place in research and academia, where she aims to improve individuals’ access to and use of technology and eventually teach computer science.

An emphasis on individual and community care reverberates through her computer science research as well as her involvement in efforts such as PACCT. “People, such as students, are fundamentally complex and multidimensional,” she said. “Every experience a student has in their life shapes how they learn and show up, and who they are. If we acknowledge that, we can teach and reach students in better ways.”

In response to her recognition for embodying the We Are Blue Hens values, Holsapple stressed that all students have the opportunity to engage in and outside of the classroom. “There is a place for you, wherever you want there to be a place,” she said as she considered students for whom her work may resonate. “Sometimes that means making that place yourself, and pulling up your own chair to the table. You deserve to be in whatever space you want to be, even if that means fighting for it.” 

Changing the status quo has been part of Holsapple’s passion from the start, and she has naturally gravitated toward other changemakers during her time at UD. The 2019 Seitz Award winner and Honors alumna, Nana Ohemaa Asante, became a mentor to Holsapple when she joined Mosaic. Fellow PACCT member and Honors student George Class-Peters is the sibling of Georgina Class-Peters, who was the first UD student to serve in an official capacity on a presidential search committee. Saray Lopez, 2019 Twilight Induction Ceremony student speaker, was part of the first research lab Holsapple joined at UD. Indeed, it seems that the passion for progress may be shared by an entire generation of Blue Hens, who recognize that “no” may sometimes merely be the first letters of, “not yet.”

Nominations for the 2022 George and Margaret Seitz “We Are Blue Hens” Award will open in the spring semester. Questions about the award or the student-created We Are Blue Hens values may be directed to the Office of the Dean of Students at deanofstudents@udel.edu.

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