The Batten School Announces Class of 2021 Winners of the Pilot and Legacy Awards

2021 Pilot and Legacy Award Recipients. (Graphic by Macy Brandon)
2021 Pilot and Legacy Award Recipients. (Graphic by Macy Brandon)

The Pilot and Legacy Awards, named in honor of the Batten School’s late founder, Frank Batten, Sr., are the most prestigious student-nominated awards for graduating Master of Public Policy students and students graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Public Policy and Leadership. This year, a record number of nominations were submitted by Batten students, faculty and staff who were impacted by Batten’s Class of 2021.

“The incredibly thoughtful nominations we received speak volumes about the extent to which our students relied upon each other over the course of the past two years,” said Batten School Senior Assistant Dean Jill Rockwell. “Their resilience and connection with each other have inspired all of us and kept us going, too.”

Graduate Pilot Awards

The Pilot Awards recognize graduating MPP students who have, in their own way, led the Batten School through their excellence and outstanding contributions to the School and greater community. Mr. Batten, former Chairman and CEO of Landmark Communications, desired that his company be distinguished by two things: extraordinary dedication to public service and outstanding performance. He said these goals were “inseparable—bound up together—and the sooner we can accept this concept, the quicker we can see that our transcendent purpose must be the pursuit of excellence.” In the spirit of his words, six MPP students were selected for this meaningful honor.

Value-Driven and Determined: Meghan Clancy

From Clancy’s nomination: I've come to know Meg as someone who really values student learning. She is not afraid to take on relevant issues, and her openness about her nontraditional pathway to college pushes her peers to think about what higher education can be. Meg lives by her values and displays an incredibly high ethic of care through everything she does. Through her determination, Meg reminds us not to squander the opportunities we are given, but to take every chance we are offered. She has set an important example for the rest of us, and I know she will continue to raise the bar through her future work, making a meaningful impact wherever she goes.

Pilot Award recipients Meghan Clancy, Jasmine Rangel, Geoffrey Paul and Allie Strehle. (John Robinson Photography)
Pilot Award recipients Meghan Clancy, Jasmine Rangel, Geoffrey Paul and Allie Strehle. (John Robinson Photography)
Intentional Empowerment: Geoffrey Paul

From Paul’s nomination: Geoff has excelled in this program both inside and outside of the classroom. In classes, he actively brought others into the conversation and listened with intention to truly understand his classmates. Outside of the classroom, Geoff developed relationships and mentored countless first years. His role as VPR’s editor-in-chief had him overseeing students from second-year MPPs to BAs, and he managed all with grace and humility. He trusted and empowered his staff, but was also always willing to help and ensure all staff members and projects were supported. He certainly left a legacy in VPR—and, indeed, on all classmates who had the pleasure of working with him.

Hard-Working Problem-Solver: Catalina Victoria Perez Parra

From Perez Parra’s nomination: She is one of the most hard-working Batten students I have ever met, always thinking about how her actions or the work of Women in Policy, the student organization she leads, can impact future generations of Batten students and the community members they support. Catalina challenges others to think deeper about policy issues. In class and discussions amongst ourselves, she pushes me to look at every angle of a problem. When there is something I am really sure that I am right about, she encourages me to consider other perspectives—and shows how those ideas should inform my argument. It has really transformed the way I view policy, and also the world in general.

Inspiring and Compassionate: Jasmine Rangel

From Rangel’s nomination: Jasmine shows us daily what it means to lead with conviction, courage and compassion. Jasmine has challenged us to be more thoughtful policymakers, leaders, classmates and friends wherever we go. She reminds me that even on bad days, we can find the motivation within ourselves to keep going. Personally, she inspires me to reach beyond my comfort zone to ensure that my actions are equitable, fair and inclusive. Whether she recognizes it or not, she has encouraged me to find my own voice in this policy world. Jasmine truly embodies the principles of “inform, enlighten, awaken and inspire.” She embodies true leadership—and I look up to her for it.

Above and Beyond in All She Does: Allie Strehle

From Strehle’s nomination: Allie is incredibly deserving of this award as she goes above and beyond in every facet of her life. Not only has she mentored me throughout this year, but Allie routinely steps up for the good of Batten as a whole. She has served as Batten Graduate Council secretary, a leader on The Equity Collaborative, and I have heard directly from many of her RMDA students that she is the main reason they passed first semester! She also gives back to the community by volunteering in a local homeless shelter and through other service. Allie is a leader of tomorrow, but more importantly, she is a leader of today.

Pilot Award recipients Benjamin Teese and Catalina Perez Parra. (John Robinson Photography)
Pilot Award recipients Benjamin Teese and Catalina Perez Parra. (John Robinson Photography)
Genuine, Earnest, Welcoming: Benjamin Teese

From Teese’s nomination: Ben is largely the reason I decided to come to Batten. Once accepted, Ben was always there for me, assisting in the decision-making process and my next steps. Ben went out of his way to welcome me into the Batten community. Ben demonstrates leadership through his service in numerous organizations at Batten, and he always finds time to help someone else in need. He has gone above and beyond in setting the tone for students joining the Batten community. He is one of the most genuine, earnest students I know, motivating others to demonstrate similar goodness. Batten is—and should be—forever grateful for his work and contributions.

Batten Undergraduate Legacy Awards

The undergraduate Legacy Awards are annually presented to five graduating students who have, in their own way, demonstrated leadership at the Batten School in five separate categories, each reflecting the virtues and experiences that distinguished Mr. Batten throughout his inspirational life. “The earlier in their careers that exceptional students begin to 

think of themselves as future public leaders who can promote a better society, the greater the likelihood they will become such leaders,” said Mr. Batten.

Leader Among Leaders: Matthew Frank Gillam

From Gillam’s nomination: I can think of few people who have dedicated as much to the Batten community as Matt. A compassionate, empathetic leader, he always makes an effort to make people feel heard and intentionally gets to know students to understand their needs. He has poured himself into the Batten community and has served as an incredible leader; many peers look to him for guidance and as a prime example of student leadership. No one can match the dedication he has put into communicating with the administration and reaching out to students for constant input. He’s always smiling; he’s a gem.

Legacy Award recipients Matthew Gillam, Wina Terrell Jana, Quentin Milligan and Gabby Posner. (John Robinson Photography)
Legacy Award recipients Matthew Gillam, Wina Terrell Jana, Quentin Milligan and Gabby Posner. (John Robinson Photography)
Integrity: Wina Terrell Jana

From Jana’s nomination: An inspiration and amazing justice advocate in our cohort, the BA class would not be the same without Terrell. Everyone, fellow classmates and faculty alike, has the utmost respect for Terrell, and we are constantly inspired and uplifted by him. His strong moral compass gears discussions towards values of empathy and compassion. He stands up for what he believes is right, which often means speaking up for people whose voices aren’t often heard or accounted for. We are all constantly amazed at how Terrell handles everything he has on his plate with such grace. He will surely leave behind a legacy of courage and integrity when graduates.

Perseverance: Edward Perez Milligan V

From Milligan’s nomination: No one would ever guess that Quentin has had to overcome so many obstacles to get where he is, because he does it with such grace and humility. He is an inspiration to all who know him, and although his journey to UVA and Batten would be impressive alone, he has taken advantage of every opportunity the school offers to make the most of his time here and impact as many people and communities as possible. He is a listening ear to anyone who needs it and is interested in the diverse lives of everyone around him. He is poised to make a tangible difference in people’s lives even after he graduates.

Pioneer: Gabrielle Simone Posner

From Posner’s nomination: Gabby's courage to speak out on things that matter in the everyday lives of her peers is evident. She consistently engaged our class and teaching team in discourse concerning the responsibilities we take on as policymakers—and the reasons to include an extensive consideration of unintended consequences. Gabby does not hesitate to speak up for what is just and equitable. I know for a fact that Gabby is ready to make a difference as soon as she steps out into the world, because she has already made a significant difference at UVA, in Batten, and throughout the global community with the work she has already done.

Intellectual Curiosity: Adrienne Ruth Preston

From Preston’s nomination: Classmates rely on Adrienne to ask the most engaging and clarifying questions, both in the classroom and out. In every class I have had with her, she asks the most thought-provoking questions, often leading to the most interesting policy discussions I've ever participated in. She has the intellectual integrity to not stop at unsatisfying answers, but pursue them until she reaches responses that are meaningful and actionable. The pursuit of knowledge is second nature to Adrienne; I feel so extremely lucky to have shared a classroom with her. I can say with certainty that my time in Batten has been enriched by sitting in class with Adrienne.

Garrett Hall at Sunset

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