Sibberson Award goes to Jonathan Barnell

Sibberson Award winner: Jonathan Barnell receives the prestigious Sibberson Award at fall graduation Dec. 13, 2019. Barnell graduated with a 4.0 GPA and plans to attend graduate school to obtain a doctorate degree.

Matthew L. Self

A graduation ceremony is a time for appreciation and recognition as one makes the transition from scholarly work to the professional world.

Washburn University’s fall commencement last Friday, Dec. 13, was no different.

Among the graduates who earned their degrees, a select few crossed the stage with the rare Sibberson Award.

The Sibberson Award is a substantial monetary award established by the trusts of Erna Sibberson and Gretchen O.A. Sibberson. The purpose of the endowment is to honor the most deserving student(s) from among the highest-ranking member(s) of the undergraduate senior class.

The fall 2019 finalists for the Sibberson Award were Hannah Arneson, Chandler Burrows, Rheagan Hageman, Katlyn Hays, Emily Noble, Shawn Oliver and Hannah Stevicks. Each finalist has an astounding 4.0 GPA that sets them above fellow graduates.

“I’m looking to go into politics in southwest Kansas,” said Chandler Burrows who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in history and political science. “I plan on running in the summer of 2020 as a state representative in the Kansas Legislature.”

Rheagan Hageman, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in human services, stated the impact that the leadership department had on her career development.

“One of the greatest contributions I’ve had is one of my leadership classes – I actually got the chance to give back to the community,” said Hageman. “They [the leadership department] gave us money to be able to give to the community. We gave money to an organization to help them go further. Seeing that physical change was rewarding.”

The Sibberson Award was granted to Jonathan Barnell, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in molecular biology and biotechnology.

Barnell plans to earn a doctoral degree and continue working with the model organism of drosophila as a molecular biologist or a biochemical engineer. He wants to help establish the next breakthrough in biofuel technology.

“Jonathan is an outstanding young man and has represented Washburn University at the highest levels,” said President Jerry Farley. “I have no doubt he will perform at the highest levels in graduate school and beyond.”

Barnell is a member of the Mortar Board Honor Society, Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society and Tri-Beta Biological Honor Society. He has received the Sarah Lu Carter Biology Scholarship, T. Witmer Biology Scholarship, Rigby Biology Scholarship, Garvey Scholarship, Meinershagen Senior Scholar Award and the Valedictorian Scholarship.

“I can talk about what I’ve accomplished, but it’s been up to the people around me – supporting me this whole time,” said Barnell. “I’d like to thank my wife Moriah and my parents.”

Edited by Adam White, Jason Morrison, Wesley Tabor