Mallory Yowell ’22 is the recipient of the Robert L. Hill Distinguished Senior Award. The honor was announced at the 2022 Academic Awards Ceremony on Friday, April 22, in Turner Gymnasium.
“I’m extremely honored to be recognized and greatly appreciative of the selection committee,” said Yowell, a first-generation college student from Charlottesville, Virginia. “Receiving the award in front of my peers, professors, and family members was a rewarding experience. I would not be in the position I am today without the support from my peers, family, and the amazing faculty in both the criminology and psychological science departments.”
Yowell added that thinking about her four years at Lynchburg — and graduation nearing — has been “overwhelming but exciting,” especially during that moment on Friday night.
“Climbing up the stairs to greet President Alison Morrison-Shetlar to receive this award and listening to Provost Jablonski reading her remarks about my time at the University of Lynchburg was a surreal moment, and it put my four years into perspective as it is coming to a close,” she said. “I am incredibly thankful for the opportunities the University of Lynchburg has provided me.”
Finalists for the Robert L. Hill Distinguished Senior Award, one of the highest honors for undergraduate students, included Amanda Pugh, Rebecca Parks, Meagan Fowler, and William Fowler. The award was established in memory of Hill, who served Lynchburg as a professor and chair of economics from 1965 to 1984. It’s presented to a senior who has excelled in academics, ranked in the top 2% of the graduating class, pursued a challenging and rigorous curriculum, and exhibited involvement in campus and community activities.
During her time at Lynchburg, Yowell more than fulfilled those requirements, according to Dylan Elliott, laboratory coordinator and instructor for the department of psychological science.
“Mallory has demonstrated academic, social, and community excellence in multiple capacities,” Elliott wrote in his letter of recommendation. “While most students are expected to only be attentive to their courses, Mallory has extended beyond that in order to push herself.”
A double major in psychological science and criminology with a minor in criminal forensics, Yowell has also worked as a leader in Connections — a peer mentoring program that helps first-years adjust to college life — and lab assistant for the department of psychological sciences.
She’s been involved in women’s club soccer, is a member of several academic honor societies — Phi Eta Sigma, the National Society of Leadership and Success, Alpha Phi Sigma, and Omicron Delta Kappa — and was a finalist for the Sommerville Scholar.
Perhaps most impressive, Yowell has maintained a 4.0 GPA all four years while taking 16 to 17 credit hours each semester.
If you ask Elliott, it’s her curiosity for learning, paired with a strong passion to improve the lives of others, that’s kept her laser-focused on reaching her goals.
“She has a drive that seeks to enhance her quality of life and those around her whenever the opportunity presents itself,” he said, adding that he met Yowell during her first year at Lynchburg in his Introduction to Psychology lab course.
“From the start, she was quick to ask questions and engage with both her peers and myself. I could tell she was not only academically motivated, but committed to the learning process as well.”
Yowell says the unique environment at Lynchburg contributed to her success in and outside the classroom.
“Lynchburg provides its students with the opportunity to really understand the material they are learning through smaller class sizes and the ability to reach out to your professors one-on-one,” she said.
“Students at larger institutions don’t have this opportunity, so I think it’s really important to get to know your professors and utilize their office hours and time outside of class to excel in their classes. This has really helped me succeed at Lynchburg.”
Yowell’s passion for helping others, combined with everything she learned in her criminology and psychology classes, fueled her interest in law enforcement. An internship with the Virginia State Police Division III Headquarters in Appomattox, Virginia, last summer helped firm up her plans to apply for the Virginia State Police Academy and become a state trooper. She’s currently in the final phase of the application process. Eventually, she wants to work for the state’s Bureau of Criminal Investigations.
It’s where she thinks she can make the biggest impact.
“The [criminology] classes I have taken have provided me with the tools to understand the criminal justice system and how crime can impact different communities,” she said, adding that all her educational experiences at Lynchburg prepared her to “face some of the challenges of being a state trooper.”
Psychology, which she added as a major her junior year, helped her build a solid, well-rounded foundation.
“I knew that with a psychology major along with my criminology major, I would be able to expand my knowledge about social justice issues and biases that I may experience or have in the law enforcement field,” Yowell said.
“Courses such as Psychology of Law and Psychology of Diversity have aided in my understanding and learning of how different communities interact with law enforcement and how to best serve those communities. … In my Psychology of Law class, we examined the criminal justice system and the distinct discrimination that minorities, specifically Black men, experience.
“This class broadened my perspective on the injustices of the criminal justice system and helped illuminate for me the issues in this system that need to be addressed.”
If her undergraduate performance is any indicator, she’s bound to excel at the police academy, too. Her advisor, Professor of Criminology Dr. Kimberly McCabe, has no doubt.
“Mallory is such a hard worker,” McCabe said. “Over the years, she has gained confidence in her abilities. She’s detail-oriented with a strong sense of personal rights and responsibilities.
“I think the Virginia State Police [would be] lucky to be able to hire her.”