For the 25th consecutive year, a high-achieving Sweet Briar College student has received the Sweet Briar College Presidential Medal. On March 29, 2017, President Phillip C. Stone awarded the medal to senior Jessie Schuster. From Camp Hill, Pa., Schuster has forged a distinguished record of service and leadership at Sweet Briar.
The Presidential Medal is the highest award a Sweet Briar student can receive.
Pursuing a double major in history and music, and a double minor in gender studies and medieval and Renaissance studies, Schuster has demonstrated the kind of commitment expected of a Presidential Medalist.
A member of Phi Beta Kappa, she was inducted into Omicron Delta Kappa last year and into Alpha Lambda Delta, the first-year honors society, at the beginning of freshman year. She has been on the dean’s list, maintaining a GPA of 3.5 or above, throughout her time at Sweet Briar. She is the recipient of the Betty Bean Black Scholarship (2013–2017), the Nancy Godwin Baldwin Scholarship (2015-2017), The Manson Memorial Scholarship (2016-2017) and the Julia Sadler de Coligny Award (2016-2017).
As a participant in the Honors Program, Schuster completed her Honors Degree last May and was awarded an Honors Summer Research Program scholarship for 2016. Working with history professor Lynn Laufenberg and English professor Tony Lilly, Schuster focused her research on “Russian Women Fighters in World War I.” She later presented her research at MARCUS, the Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference of Undergraduate Scholarship. She was elected to the Honors Program Student Council at the end of her freshman year and was a 2017 representative her sophomore year. She became the council’s chairwoman for her junior and senior years.
While at Sweet Briar, Schuster also completed the three-year Leadership Certificate Program in just two years and subsequently participated in the CIEL (Creativity, Innovation, Entrepreneurship, Leadership) Program last year. She spent the summer 2015 studying in the UK as part of the Virginia Program at Oxford, has tutored history in the Academic Resource Center and worked in the admissions office, where she was selected orientation chairwoman last spring.
“My favorite part of the job is giving tours and hosting prospective students,” she said. “I love showing them my passion for Sweet Briar College and helping them find their place here.”
As a Phonathon caller her junior year, Schuster also had the opportunity to connect with alumnae across multiple generations.
A former class president, Schuster serves as Student Government Association president, is a member of the community service-based tap clubs QVs and BAM, a Sweet Pea (Peer Health Educator and Advocate) and a Sweet Spirit. During her first year at Sweet Briar, she also played on the softball team.
In addition, Schuster has found time to serve as a resident advisor for first-year students since sophomore year and has led the first-year Honors Hall.
“The best part of working with first-years is getting to see them adapt to college life and exploring new interests and passions while at Sweet Briar College,” Schuster said.
She is a long-time musician; she started playing the saxophone at the age of 8. During her time at Camp Hill High School, she played in both the marching band and the concert band and toured Europe with American Music Abroad before her senior year of high school. At Sweet Briar, Schuster has been a member of the advanced choir since freshman year and has performed in multiple solo and group recitals.
“This year has been fantastic thanks to the amazing and supportive community of staff, faculty, alumnae and fellow students pushing me and supporting me on my journey,” Schuster said.
President Stone, who handed Schuster the medal during last night’s Academic Recognition Dessert Reception, had a few words of his own for the Presidential Medalist.
“In her four years at Sweet Briar, Jessie has led with courage and tenacity,” he said. “She demonstrates academic and creative excellence and brings to life the value of critical thinking. She will always serve as an example of the best of this College.”
Schuster plans to apply to law school after spending a year working for Disney in Florida.