Published on April 26, 2012 by Mary Wimberley  

Samford University's top student leaders were honored Thursday, April 26, during the school's annual leadership and service convocation.

Riley Westmoreland, a senior political science/journalism and mass communication major from Birmingham, won the James M. Sizemore Award as the student in the senior class who best demonstrates character, personality, scholarship and unselfish service to Samford. She is the daughter of Dr. Jeanna and Dr. Andrew Westmoreland.

Jeremy Towns, a senior sports medicine major from Dolomite, Ala., won the John R. Mott Award as the man in the graduating class who best represents high character, scholarship and student public service.  He also received the Rufus Shelton Award as this year's male student who has done the most for the betterment of life at Samford through sustained efforts, and the Omicron Delta Kappa Leader of the Year Award as the member of the leadership honor society who has given exemplary service to the circle and the Samford community. He is the son of Janice Towns and Gregory Towns.

Caroline Noland, a senior business major from Boiling Springs, S.C., received the Gail Hyle Memorial Award as the woman in the graduating class who best exemplifies Christian character, leadership, school spirit and service. She is the daughter of Susan and Jeff Noland.

Elizabeth Gettys, a senior economics major from Alexander City, Ala., received the Service Award as the graduating senior who best exemplifies the highest qualities of social service.  She is the daughter of Sarah Beth and Charles Gettys.

Victoria "Tori" Bragg, a senior political science/journalism and mass communication major from Orlando, Fla., received a Rufus Shelton Award as the female student who has done the most for the betterment of life at Samford. She is the daughter of Andrea and Verne Bragg.

Rachel Gregory and Andrew Hall received Luke 2:52 awards, which honor two sophomore students who excel in all areas of student life, including civic, social, spiritual and physical.  Gregory, an elementary education major from Brentwood, Tenn., is the daughter of Debbie and David Gregory. Hall, an accounting major from Madison, Miss., is the son of Joyce and Daniel Hall.

Adam Quinn and Devynne Roahrig received Omicron Delta Kappa freshman leadership awards as the male and female students who showed exemplary character, leadership, service and scholarship during their first year at Samford.  Quinn, an English major from Decatur, Ala., is the son of Teresa and Kent Quinn.  Roahrig, a nursing major from Aledo, Texas, is the daughter of Jo Ann and Brent Roahrig.

Dr. John Knapp, director of Samford's Frances Marlin Mann Center for Ethics and Leadership, gave the convocation lecture on the topic, Why Student Leadership Matters.

"As student leaders, you have more influence than you probably realize," Knapp said, advising his audience in Reid Chapel that effective leaders learn from experience. They also earn the respect of their peers, and have the ability to take a responsibility for the betterment of the community and world. 

 "Good leaders work collaboratively," he said, using as an example the sequoia, which is known to be among the oldest and tallest trees in the world, but because of its shallow root system cannot stand alone.  "It can only stand tall in the company of other sequoias that support each other."


Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.