Herbenick Award Winner

University of Dayton junior Eden Williams was presented with the Raymond M. Herbenick Award at the 30th annual Core program graduation banquet, Sunday, March 12.

The Herbenick Award is presented annually and recognizes a Core graduating student who exemplifies excellence in interdisciplinary integration. Instituted by the department of philosophy in 1999, the award was named to honor the memory of 30-year philosophy professor and founding Core faculty member Ray Herbenick.

“Winning the award was so humbling,” Williams said. “I had to hold back tears when Dr. (Vincent) Miller was introducing me because I did not know my professors thought so highly of me. Winning was also very satisfying because I do try very hard in my studies.”

Vincent Miller, University Gudorf Chair in Catholic Theology, was one of four Core professors who nominated Williams for the Herbenick Award.

“Eden’s reflections were always succinct and insightful,” said Miller, who taught Williams for the Core capstone course. “She has the ability to hone in on the crux of an argument, contextualize it in course conversations, and share it with her peers. Eden exemplifies the ideals of the Core program.”

Williams said Miller had a profound impact on her perspective.

“Dr. Miller’s class was very insightful and ultimately changed how I view the world — you know a professor is very influential when he or she can do that,” Williams said.

Williams is an international studies major from Cincinnati with a concentration in global migration and economic development. She began the Core program in fall 2014 not knowing how she would balance academics and athletics because she was also a member of the 2014-2015 University women’s rowing team.

Core requires students take a 15 credit hour course sequence during the first year’s fall and spring semesters.

“The first year of Core is so intense that it made the rest of my college experience easy,” Williams said. “I only rowed my first year, but practicing 20 hours a week, traveling every weekend and trying to stay on top of my classes, including Core, shaped me into the student I am.”

Despite a demanding first year, Williams excelled, and in 2015 she won the Atlantic 10 Commissioner’s Honor Roll for having a 4.0 while competing in Division I athletics.

Schooled in the Montessori style of learning, Williams believes her upbringing prepared her well for the Core program. Core is a challenging 2 ½ year interdisciplinary curriculum that stresses connections between academic disciplines. Courses center around a common theme, “Human Values in a Pluralistic Culture,” and fulfill many requirements of the University’s Common Academic Program. Students who successfully complete the program “graduate” from Core during their junior year.

“Integrated learning is the best kind of learning, and I loved Core because of the overlap in subjects,” Williams said. “I really value the Marianist education because it focuses on developing the whole person rather than just the academic aspect of a student, and this is something that the Core program stays true to. I get overjoyed when the classes I am taking now accidentally overlap and I get to learn about the topic from different perspectives.”

Williams developed a strong rapport with many Core program faculty.

“The great professors are all extremely intelligent and have diverse backgrounds which is wonderful for interdisciplinary studies,” she said. “They care about you beyond the classroom, and there is just so much opportunity to create close ties with them.”

Williams is passionate about the Core program and urges prospective students to be part of the program.

“Take it,” she exclaimed. “Core has been one of the best decisions that I made at this university.”

As Williams closes the chapter on Core and inches closer to senior year, her schedule still bustles with integrated learning experiences. She is a Dayton Civic Scholar, teaching assistant, resident assistant and part of the the International Studies Honors Fraternity. She will also be a DC Flyer this summer working in the youth economic empowerment sector of Plan International, USA, a non-profit organization whose mission is to improve the health, education and poverty status of individuals worldwide. She is currently working on her nonprofit and community leadership certificate, and aspires to join the Peace Corps after graduation.

“Hopefully, I will be a positive change agent somewhere,” she said. “I just want to travel the world and help better the lives of others.”

- Marissa McCray ’00, administrative assistant, Core program

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