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Student Awards

The St. Catherine of Siena Undergraduate Peace and Justice Research Award will be awarded to an undergraduate student research project relevant to peace and justice issues. Students are invited to submit work completed in Spring 2021 or Fall 2021 courses. Submitted papers will be evaluated by CPJE-affiliated faculty through a process of anonymous review. A cash award will be presented to the awardee.

Submissions should be no less than six (6) and no more than twenty (20) pages.

In order to be considered, papers must be submitted via this form no later than Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Papers will be evaluated based on the following criteria:

Excellent writing, clear structure, and adherence to an academic citation style
Significant use of research with sources well integrated and thoughtfully utilized
Topic related to concerns of peace and/or justice
Demonstration of critical thinking, insight, and creativity
Appreciation of complexity
Ability to effectively defend claims

Exceptional papers will include constructive ideas in addition to identifying problems and challenges

The top three papers (winner, and two honorable mentions) will be presented on a panel with a faculty respondent to a University-wide audience on Wednesday, April 20, 2022.

By submitting your paper, you are agreeing to participate in this panel should your paper be chosen as one of the top three. 


2021 Recipient: Chloe Benson

2021 Recipient Chloe Benson

Chloe's paper: Subverting the Fetishization of Eurocentric Beauty Standards through African American Rhetoric

Past Recipients

2020: Nora Cowley
2019: Patrick Flynn
2017: Katie Boyce
2016: Claire Kimilu
2014: John Catalano
2013: Kevin Gallagher

The Dorothy Day-Thomas Merton Award is named after Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton, who were two outstanding American contributors on the journey toward peace and justice. Their lives of study, writing, prayer and action have encouraged others to become involved in furthering the cause of justice and peace in the world.

This award is given to graduating seniors with a major or minor in Peace and Justice who have maintained academic excellence and made a significant contribution to the effort to further justice and peace during their four years at Villanova University.

2021 Recipients

Chloe Benson

Chloe Benson

The Center for Peace and Justice Education was pleased to present the 2021 Dorothy Day-Thomas Merton Award to Chloe Benson.

Chloe is a Presidential Scholar who has a double major in Communication and in Peace and Justice, with a focus on marginalized perspectives and foregrounding the role of race. Her research culminated in her thesis, “The (Dis)invention of Black Women: A Rhetorical Analysis of Intersectional Oppression within Cosmetics Practices,” which examines how "current rhetorical meaning structures within the cosmetics industry serve to reproduce racialized and gendered discourses that negatively impact Black women." Outside the classroom, Chloe was involved in Get Woke Nova and served on numerous university committees addressing issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion on campus. During internships outside the classroom, Choe has worked for a US senator, a UN agency in Rome, and on various social justice initiatives in the business sector. Congratulations, Chloe!

Juliana Cosenza

Merton-Day Recipient: Juliana Cosenza

The Center for Peace and Justice Education was pleased to present the 2021 Dorothy Day-Thomas Merton Award to Juliana Cosenza.

Juliana graduates with a minor in Peace and Justice, accompanying her GIS major specializing in Arab & Islamic Studies. She has interned at Un Ponte Per, an Italian nonprofit that provides aid to disadvantaged communities throughout Jordan, as well as with Just Vision, a nonprofit dedicated to solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Her senior thesis was titled “Mind the Gap: Aid Provision to Iraqi and Syrian Refugees in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.” Currently, Juliana serves as Public Affairs Intern for the US Department of State and US Embassy Libya External Office, co-managing a social media platform where Libyan youth can learn more about American culture through intercultural dialogue. Juliana has also traveled to San Diego to learn how migration and proximity to the US-Mexico border has influenced the Chicano community. As she goes forward from Villanova, she plans to pursue immigration and public interest law. Congratulations, Juliana!

Past Recipients

2020: Rachael Huegerich & Colleen Sharp
2019: Julie Greenwald & Sarah Harris
2018: Danielle Bradley & Julia O'Connor
2017: Kara English
2016: Alissa Welker & Adam Vincent
2015: Kayla Cooke
2014: Noelle Mapes
2013: Caitlin Billingham & Emily Several
2012: Ellen Salmi
2011: Jen Maez
2010: Amy Richards
2009: Gail Sondermeyer
2008: Amy Knop-Narbutis
2007: Emma Stewart
2006: Diane L. Coffey
2005: Kathleen E.Krackenberger
2004: Caitlin Fouratt & Melissa Wibbens
2003: Nancy R. Steedle
2002: Teresa C. Mambu
2001: Megan A. Kasimatis & Craig E. Hickein
2000: David O. Suetholz
1999: Andrea Maresca
1998: Vincent J. Coccia
1996: Michael E. Kennedy
1995: Raj Chablani
1994: Tara Coughlin
1993: Nantiya Ruan
1992: Stephen M. Smith
1991: Steven G. Liga
1989: Gregory Tucci
1988: Ingrid M. Birnbach
1987: Michael P. McGinnis

Each year, Villanova University sponsors the Thomas J. Mentzer Award. The Award honors a graduating Villanova senior who has contributed significantly, through his or her service, to "expanding opportunities for the poor and marginalized." 

The award remembers Thomas J. Mentzer, a Villanova graduate of 1955, who later became a faculty member in the History Department. He was active in many of the social issues of the time, including work to oppose racial conflict and segregation.

2021 Recipient: Madalyn Sullivan

2021 Recipient: Madalyn Sullivan

The Center for Peace and Justice Education is pleased to present the 2021 Thomas J. Mentzer Award to Madalyn SullivanMaddy is a double major in Sociology and Peace and Justice, with a minor in French. 

During her first years at Villanova, she participated in many of the service opportunities offered through the University. But in her final years two years, she began to branch out into the larger world. She demonstrated a deep and abiding commitment not only to understand the world, but also to practice solidarity with those who struggle to be recognized. Her concerns are expanding to the realm of international human rights, especially when it comes to working on behalf of marginalized people. In her words: “Villanova has provided me so many opportunities to explore so many interests, yet everything has led me back to questions of human rights and the violence of poverty.”

Despite the 2020 pandemic, Maddie was able to continue her role as advocate and ally for the poor, especially those who migrate. In October 2020 Maddy was selected for the competitive Virtual Student Federal Service Program to support the Office of Public Affairs of the US Department of State. She also created and led a virtual migration for ten students along the U.S.-Mexico border in partnership with VIA International.

After graduation, Maddie hopes “to take the knowledge and experience of my undergraduate studies and apply it to the world of international law, humanitarian crises and juvenile justice.”

Past Recipients

2020: Michelle Kimura
Ritesh Karsalia
2018: Zachary Ellenhorn
2017: Brendan Carchidi
2016: Rodrigo Rivera
2015: Patrick K. Williams
2014: Ariana Meltzer-Bruhn
2013: Jay Tighe
2012: Kristen Valosky
2011: Jeffrey Sved 
Emily Felesenthal
2009: Sarah Arscott
2008: Katrine Herrick
2007: Christine Feldmeier
2006: Jaime C. Gentile
2005: Bryan C. Rivera
2004: Matthew D. Nespoli
2003: Nancy Steedle
2002: Teresa Mambu
2001: Michael S. McGlinnis
2000: Paola Gaines

The Solidarity Award is presented to a graduating senior or seniors concentrating in Peace and Justice Studies in exceptional circumstances to recognize distinctive service to the cause of justice and peace.

After 45 years of teaching at Villanova University, beloved philosophy professor Joseph Betz retired in May 2011. Joe's knowledge of social and political issues, and his commitment to active involvement in anti-war and social justice movements in the US and around the world inspired generations of Villanova students and countless colleagues. Among his many contributions to Villanova, Joe served as the faculty adviser for Amnesty International for 30 years. He is the longest serving faculty adviser for any Amnesty chapter anywhere in the US. Joe was the 2009 recipient of the Lawrence C. Gallen, OSA, Faculty Service Award.

In honor of his steadfast leadership in countless social justice and peace movements, and his unflinching resolve to stand against injustice wherever it is found, the Center for Peace and Justice Education renamed its Solidarity Award for Professor Betz. This tribute is a small acknowledgment of the tremendous impact of a man who lives his commitment to peace and justice each and every day.

2021 Recipient: Kaylan Purisima

2021 Recipient: Kaylan Purisima

The 2021 recipient of the Joseph Betz Solidarity Award is Kaylan Purisima. Kaylan is graduating with double majors in Peace and Justice and French, and finished her Honors thesis examining the past and present policies involved in sexual violence against Indigenous women. Beginning in her freshman year, Kaylan has devoted most of her time in and outside the classroom to addressing different issues of human rights abuses through her involvement in various groups on campus. Her greatest impact has been in her role as co-president of Amnesty International and No Lost Generation, wherein she inaugurated Immigration Week last year, which offered an array of events and activities highlighting the plight of those most vulnerable in a search for asylum, home and safety. This year's Immigration Week was highly successful and has received the recognition and support of Fr. Peter's office. Congratulations, Kaylan, and many thanks for all you have done in service to social justice!

Past Recipients

2020: Morgan Micari
Yvonne Nguyen
Mackenzie Niness
Jordan Trinh
2016: Jane Richter
2015: Nora Doherty
2014: Siobhan Cooney 
Carolyn Rau
2013: Marissa Pardue
2012: Lauren Adderly
2012: Caitlin Ingraham
2011: Caitlin Greene 

The Justice in Business Award is designed to encourage the development of innovative business practices that incorporate justice and work to increase social equity in the world.

Eligible nominees are senior undergraduate students who have accomplished one or more of the following during their time at Villanova:

demonstrated, in theory or practice, how the interaction of business and justice can enhance human dignity and the common good

engaged in a creative project or initiative to support the connection between business and justice

laid the foundations to integrate business and justice in one’s future life and career

Past Recipients

2020: Yeralmi Valladares
2019: Nicole Anderson
2018: Shayla Frederick
2017: Jonathan Pizzutti 
2016: Nicholas Carney
2015: Kelly Gabriel
2014: John Catalano

The Medallion Awards are conferred each year by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences to graduating seniors who have excelled in their study during their undergraduate years at Villanova. The Medallion Award for a major in Peace & Justice is named in honor of Gustavo Gutierrez, a Dominican priest and a prophetic intellectual widely regarded as the of the founder of liberation theology. 

2021 Recipient: Lilian Bui

2021 Medallion

The 2021 Gustavo Gutierrez Medallion of Academic Excellence in Peace & Justice Studies was awarded to Lily Bui, who graduated with a double major in Peace and Justice and Biology. In the words of one PJ faculty member, Lily “possesses a sophisticated understanding of complex social issues and is highly sensitive to the different social, political and environmental forces that can unjustly impact health and well-being.” Lily’s exceptional academic work has been complemented by involvement with Hunger and Homelessness Awareness week, as well as the Philadelphia organization Back on My Feet. Her senior thesis, "A Volunteer’s Experience of Identity and Power in an Activity-Centered Program with People Experiencing Homelessness," is among the many accomplishments that reveal her passion for justice. Congratulations, Lily!

Past Recipients

2020: Leah Waltrip
2019: Kalin Schultz