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The 2021 Warner and Taylor Award recipients (left to right) Nishant Chintala, Jessica Harding and Miriam-Helene Rudd will be honored at a celebration on June 5.

Shining seniors

Photo by Kathy F. Atkinson

UD Alumni Association honors members of the graduating class with the 2021 Warner and Taylor Awards

The University of Delaware Alumni Association announced the 2021 recipients of the Emalea Pusey Warner and Alexander J. Taylor Awards for Outstanding Seniors: Nishant Chintala, Jessica Harding and Miriam-Helene Rudd, all in the Honors College. 

Presented annually, the Warner and Taylor awards recognize seniors who demonstrate leadership, academic success and community service. Students must also have a cumulative grade point average of 3.5 or better at the end of the first semester of senior year. 

The recipients will be honored at a virtual awards celebration on Saturday, June 5, during Virtual Alumni Weekend. The UD community, friends and families are invited to attend. Their names will also be inscribed on a wall in the Alumni Circle, located near the Carpenter Sports Building (Little Bob) on campus, which honors all UDAA award recipients as well as alumni volunteers and leaders who have made significant impacts at the University.

Alexander J. Taylor Sr. Award

Nishant Chintala, who double majored in finance and computer science, has not only juggled classes and requirements in programs under two different colleges, but thrived with a 3.97 GPA. 

“I was humbled and honored to be nominated for the prestigious Alexander J. Taylor Sr. Award,” said Chintala, who is a Distinguished Scholar. “I come from a family of immigrants — go-getters determined to find a better life in America. I knew college was going to be transformational for me; however, I don’t think anyone, including myself, could have foreseen just how transformational it truly was.”

Chintala has participated in the Blue Hen Leadership Program, which he became involved in through QUEST, a weeklong leadership workshop for freshmen just before the fall semester begins. “Right off the bat, I was exposed to core fundamentals of leadership development, including working with others to solve problems,” Chintala said about the experience.

He has continued to hone his leadership skills and apply them toward service activities at UD and in the surrounding communities. Chintala is a member of the Alpha Kappa Psi business fraternity, a volunteer for UDance to raise funds toward tackling childhood cancer, and a tutor at Urban Promise, an underprivileged school in Wilmington. He has engaged in undergraduate research with one of his professors, volunteered at a local nonprofit based in Wilmington, served as a Blue Hen Ambassador and also as a finance tutor at UD and has held positions in the Blue Hen Investment Club, for which he helped manage over $3 million in University assets in an actual investment portfolio.

“I met Nish in August of 2017, and quickly learned that he is a young man with considerable talent and intelligence, outstanding moral character and significant leadership potential,” said Susan Luchey, associate director of University Student Centers for Leadership Development.

He represented UD on a six-person team in the Mid-Atlantic Regional Collegiate Leadership Competition, an international competition among colleges based on teams’ ability to problem solve using prescribed leadership skills. Luchey said that Chintala was voted as the team’s MVP based on his ability to bring the team together and his uncanny ability to memorize many of the problem-solving techniques that also led the team to win the overall championship trophy.

“Nish is a consistent campus leader who is clearly guided by values, and who will use his passion and intelligence to positively impact anything in which he is involved,” Luchey said.

He has accepted a full-time position in New York with Bloomberg, a job he was offered after the completion of his summer internship with the company.

Emalea Pusey Warner Award

During her first year on campus, Jessica Harding, switched her major from biology to the Energy and Environmental Policy 4+1 degree in the Biden School of Public Policy and Administration — and she never looked back. 

“This major combined what I loved: environmental advocacy and public policy,” she said. “I was able to start taking graduate-level courses my junior year, which challenged me in a new way.” 

Harding graduates with an Honors Degree with Distinction in late May and will complete her master’s degree next year. 

In this past academic year, she has served as a graduate research intern for The Biden Institute and as an environmental sustainability intern in Washington, D.C., for She Grows It, a firm for emerging companies in urban agriculture, research and development and sustainability industries.

“She demonstrates curiosity and an eagerness to learn and has maintained a positive attitude throughout the inevitable ups and downs of research,” said Casey L. Taylor, assistant professor, energy and environmental policy. In Taylor’s water resources management course, Harding built her senior research thesis around the topic of food waste, focused on peoples’ food habits during the pandemic.

Additionally, Harding was a member of the varsity cross country and track and field teams, serving on the leadership council for the teams and on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. She earned all-conference honors her sophomore year and in her junior year she ran a time that put her in the all-time top 10 in school history in her event. This year, she earned the silver medal during the Colonial Athletic Association outdoor track and field championships. 

“Athletics is where I have really learned to thrive as a leader,” Harding said. “I joined the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, became one of our team’s UDance representatives, and joined the inaugural member class of HenMinded, a group aimed at reducing mental health stigma in athletics.”

Harding also served as an Orientation Leader in 2019, leading small groups of peers, developing mentorship relationships and helping to support the entire first year and transfer Orientation program.

“Jess loves being a Blue Hen,” said Christine Yang Schultz, associate director of UD’s Honors College and a two-time alumna of UD. “She has truly grown here and taken advantage of all that we could offer even though it wasn’t always easy.”

Miriam-Helene Rudd, a double major in art conservation and art history with minors in history and fashion history and culture, entered UD as a Francis Alison Distinguished Scholar, a merit-based academic scholarship awarded to an incoming student with broad intellectual enthusiasm for the arts, humanities and social sciences. Through the Honors College at UD, she went on to enroll in more challenging, rewarding courses and will receive an honors degree with distinction.

Her academic achievements have been recognized by a Woman of Promise Award in 2018, a French Department Award of Merit in 2019, the Phi Beta Kappa Clift and DeArmond Award in 2019 and the David J. Toman Art Conservation Departmental Award in 2021. 

In spring 2019, she placed second in the Seth Trotter Book Collecting Contest through UD’s Library with her 70-page collection “20th Century Mystery Adventure Series for Young Women.” Her placement enabled her to enter the National Collegiate Book Collecting Contest, for which she also placed second and represented UD at an awards ceremony at the Library of Congress.

Rudd volunteered with the Historic Costume and Textile Collection and worked for the Center for Historic Art and Design and the Conservation Lab of the UD Library. An accomplishment for which she is most proud is facilitating mentorship programs through the Art Conservation Club and serving as a peer-mentor herself. 

“As a small major, it is important to build a supportive community,” she said. “The Art Conservation Club directly assists art conservation majors academically and socially, engages the broader community, and educates and advocates about conservation.”

Social events have included craft and game nights and museum trips. She also worked to develop an online resource that students can access for documents with advice on graduate school, examples of portfolios and resumes and a list of recommendations for art conservation-related digital media, books and webinars.

“Miriam-Helene’s leadership on campus provides a broader service to the conservation community, providing an informal outlet and resource for aspiring conservators,” said Nina Owczarek, assistant professor in the Department of Art Conservation.

Rudd has also served in leadership roles for Chronic Illness Advocates and the Swing Dance Club.

“Miriam-Helene is deeply talented, very highly intelligent and a superb ambassador for the value and impact of interdisciplinary study at the University of Delaware,” said Debra Hess Norris, Chair and Professor of Photograph Conservation, Unidel-Henry Francis DuPont Chair of Fine Arts and Director of Winterthur/UD Program in Art Conservation. “Clearly in the top 5% of all undergraduates for the past 30 years, Miriam-Helene is organized, excited, compassionate, passionate and extraordinarily kind — skills and attributes our world needs now more than ever.”

Rudd will be continuing at UD as a member of the 2024 class of the Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation.

To learn about the 2020 Warner and Taylor Award recipients, who will also be honored at a celebration this year, you can read this UDaily article from May 2020.

Join the UDAA in recognizing the award recipients at the 2021 UDAA Awards Celebration. Register here.


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