When Elizabeth Hansbrough received an email summoning her to see the president the morning of April 17, she guessed she was either in trouble or, maybe, she was about to be awarded Sweet Briar’s highest all-around student honor. She quickly decided it wasn’t the former.
“If I was in trouble, they would have sent me to Dean Steele,” she said, reasoning the dean of co-curricular life would handle all but the worst offenses. “If I’d done something that bad, I’d know about it.”
She also knew she’d be in Baltimore for the American National Riding Commission Championships during the 2013 Awards Convocation on the afternoon of Friday, April 19, when the Presidential Medalist was to be announced. So she allowed herself to think it might be possible.
Still, there was “disbelief, shock, but then I felt humbled and really flattered,” Hansbrough says. “I love this school so much that to receive this honor, I can’t put it into words.”
The Presidential Medal, a replica of the medal of office worn by President Jo Ellen Parker on ceremonial occasions, is given each year to a graduating senior who represents the full range of the College’s educational values. It recognizes intellectual achievement in addition to distinction in some combination of community service; the arts; global awareness; fitness and athletic achievement; and leadership, civility and integrity.
Elizabeth Hansbrough ’13 and President Jo Ellen Parker with their medals. Every Sweet Briar student knows the medal’s significance and for Hansbrough, it is a tangible symbol. Never one to speak out in high school, the natural leader who emerged at Sweet Briar was a surprise.
“Being at Sweet Briar has helped me overcome so many insecurities. It’s the pinnacle that shows how much I changed for the better by coming here — that I’ve become the intelligent woman I wanted tobe,” she says.
Hansbrough graduated with a business management major and a government minor, and also received the Equine Studies Certificate.
She was a Sweet Briar Scholar, Pannell Honors Scholar and 2012 Cramer Scholar. She was a member of Alpha Lambda Delta and Sigma Beta Delta honor societies, and served as her junior class president and vice president of the Student Government Association as a senior.
In April, Hansbrough was named an Old Dominion Athletic Conference Scholar Athlete for 2013. An accomplished equestrian, she rode on several competitive teams and was head of the Riding Council.
This summer, the San Diego native begins a nine-month leadership development program in business banking at BB&T in Winston-Salem, N.C. Upon completion, she is guaranteed a job with the company.