Augustana’s 17th annual Covenant Awards awarded five students for their fulfillment of Augustana’s five core values: Christian Faith, Liberal Arts, Excellence, Community and Service. The awards ceremony took place on April 5 at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church where Dean of Students Mark Blackburn presented the awards.
“We especially want to thank all the nominees who have spent their time at Augustana living out these core values in phenomenal ways,” Blackburn said.
President Stephanie Herseth Sandlin also shared a few words before Blackburn announced the award winners.
“All of the core values have served our community effectively for so many years,” Herseth Sandlin said. “Each tie directly to our mission, which is to provide an education enduring worth.”
Mollie Varpness received the first Covenant award for Christian Faith. Varpness is a junior communication studies and religion double major.
“I feel like it’s a really awkward reward,” Varpness said. “With Christian faith, it isn’t about the reward. It’s just doing good in the world; that’s all there is to it.”
Varpness has been involved in Augustana’s Better Together group, has interned at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church and participates in Wednesday night youth group at Our Savior’s.
Varpness was chosen out of eight other nominees for the Christian Faith Covenant Award.
The next award announced was Liberal Arts, which was given to Josh Jaton, a senior music and classics double major and math and physics double minor. Jaton was one of four nominees for the award.
“I’m terribly thankful,” Jaton said. “All of my professors strongly encouraged me to continue my studies on all ends. The encouragements that I’ve received along the way are what allowed me to keep it going.”
Jaton said his liberal arts study has aided him because he notices how different subjects can have connections.
“It’s really cool looking at the parallels and seeing how music and classics can be paired with STEM,” Jaton said. “It’s so enlightening because although it’s separate subject material, the underlying principles behind everything [are] the same.”
The third award was Excellence, which had 15 nominees, making it the largest category. Josh Barrows, a senior English and religion major, received the Excellence Covenant Award.
“An important part of excellence comes from the support from the people around me,” Barrows said. “It’s seeing opportunities that people present me with and taking them. Excellence comes in the conglomeration of the individual and the community.”
Throughout Barrow’s college career, he has been involved on the track and field team, participated in ASA, is involved in English and religion honors societies, participates in the chapel and is part of a weekly breakfast club led by Professor Richard Swanson.
Barrows said the Covenant Awards ceremony gave him mixed emotions.
“I had just come from the memorial service for Zachary Dickmann [an Augustana senior who passed away on March 27],” Barrows said. “That quick turnaround felt wrong. Someone I know who did embody Covenant Awards was Zach.”
However, Barrows said he was very honored to be nominated and chosen.
Kirtana Krishna Kumar, a junior biology and philosophy major, won the next award for Community.
“For me, Community is really to make people comfortable in the place that they live in,” Kumar said.
Kumar was one of 11 nominees for the Community award.
Kumar has served the Augustana community by being a Viking Guide, Viking Advisor, ACE Ambassador, board member of the International Club and leader of Better Together.
“The Covenant Awards were very valuable and honorable,” Kumar said. “Getting this award means that I need to put in more effort toward the community.”
The last award was Service and it was given to Leah Blom. Blom is a senior journalism, communications/business and Spanish major.
“To receive the award for Service was a tremendous honor,” Blom said. “It’s still really surreal to me.”
Blom has served through her work as co-head governor of UBG, volunteering Wednesday nights at a Latinx church, president of PRSSA and being on the yearbook staff.
“I’m someone who wants to make other people happy and do things for other people,” Blom said.
Blom was one of three students nominated for the Covenant award for Service.
“I’ve always idolized those awards,” Blom said. “The people that have always won them have been incredible and made their mark at Augustana. To have received it among all those other incredible people this year is really an honor.”