Sarah Ellgass ’15 bubbles over with enthusiasm for everything from Senior Symposium to the Central Virginia Center for Simulation and Virtual Learning.
Her joy of learning was one of the reasons she was named the 2014 Sommerville Scholar, the top academic award given by the College.
A native of Big Island, Va., Sarah is a graduate of nearby Liberty High School. She will graduate from LC with honors in May with a degree in nursing, described by Dean of Academic Affairs Dr. Julius Sigler as “one of our most rigorous and challenging majors.”
The first in her family to attend college, Sarah agrees it’s not an easy major. “When it comes to time management, unless you’re completely focused, nursing is not doable as an undergrad degree,” she said.
Sarah says she has always wanted to be a caregiver or teach and that as a sophomore in high school, she decided to become a nurse. LC was the perfect place for her to pursue that passion, she said.
“I’m really spirited when it comes to University of Lynchburg,” Sarah said. “I could be the cheerleader for University of Lynchburg.”
She has served as president of the Nursing Class of 2015, as secretary of the Student Nurses Association, and in a variety of leadership roles in the Kappa Delta Sorority. She is a member of the National Student Nurses Association, and she has been recognized through membership in the freshman honor society of Phi Eta Sigma, the Greek Honor Society Order of Omega and the Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Honor Society.
“Sarah is driven to learn and to teach others. She makes the most of every opportunity that presents itself,” said Kim Ayscue, assistant professor of nursing. “It has been a pleasure to watch Sarah grow as a student and as a lovely, caring person. “
She was chosen as a PASS (Peer Assisted Study Session) leader for chemistry and for statistics following her freshman year and for the past two years has served as the head coordinator of PASS. “The PASS program is one of the most important things we do to help students become successful scholars — and the coordinator of the many PASS tutors bears genuine responsibility,” Dr. Sigler said in his remarks about Sarah during Parents & Family Weekend.
Dr. Priscilla Gannicott, professor of chemistry, wrote “In the 20 years I’ve been teaching this class, I’ve only chosen a freshman as PASS leader a handful of times and [Sarah] was one of those students. Attributes that I specifically look for . . . are a positive attitude toward chemistry, dedication to serving others, intellectual maturity, unwavering integrity, and the ability to teach. Based on solicited and unsolicited feedback, I made an excellent decision.”
This past summer, Sarah won a highly competitive 12-week externship position in acute care oncology at the Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center. She continues to work as a care partner for the VCU Medical Center, providing bedside care including staring IVs and drawing blood.
Sarah said the experience makes her think she might like to specialize in nursing cancer patients, whom she also worked with in Lynchburg. “I fell in love with oncology patients here,” she said.
Throughout her experience, Sarah said she has enjoyed the liberal arts. “Senior Symposium made me fall in love with writing all over again,” she said, adding that Dr. Edith Simms was a phenomenal instructor for the course.
Six other seniors interviewed for the Sommerville Scholar: Emily Bergman, Berkley Ellis, Andrea Muransky, Conner Murphy, Brooke Niblett and Qianyue Zhang.