Published on May 17, 2014 by Mary Wimberley  
Pittman Award winners

Three graduating seniors were named winners of Samford University's 2014 John C. Pittman Spirit Award.

Hannah Joy Barnette, Sabbath Joy McKiernan-Allen and Kaleigh Elizabeth Warwick received the awards during graduation exercises for Samford's School of the Arts and Orlean Bullard Beeson School of Education Saturday, May 17.

 The award recognizes a graduating senior who has exhibited a serious commitment to being a student and achieving academically, to honoring Christ, to personal health, and involvement in student life.

Barnette, an education major from Birmingham, is a dean's list student, Samford Ambassador, University Ministry Council member and a winner of the Frances Marlin Mann Award for Leadership and Character.

She was cited for, among other qualities, a commitment to the education of poor and underprivileged children which she has demonstrated locally and at an academy in Uganda.  This fall, she will pursue a master's degree in education with a concentration in urban education.

"Hannah views all of this as her way of faithfully fulfilling Jesus' mandate of proclaiming good news to the poor and setting the oppressed free," wrote a nominator, noting her many sincere Christ-like qualities, her gentle sprit, trustworthiness and reliability.  "She is known among her peers to be a wise and discerning and wonderful listener."

McKiernan-Allen, an education major from Indianapolis, Ind., is a dean's list student and winner of first-team All-Southern Conference soccer first-team honors. She is a member of Kappa Delta Pi education honor society and Samford's student athletic advisory committee.

Her nominators noted her genuine support of all campus athletic events and her encouragement of others to achieve academically and to use sport as a vehicle for sharing their faith.

McKiernan-Allen's student teaching performance at a Birmingham urban school, they noted, "is representative of academic success, leadership, commitment to the profession of teaching, commitment to physical fitness but most importantly, her commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ."

She will work with at-risk students in the inner city area of Seattle, Wash., through City Year, a highly competitive program that seeks to reach urban youth through education.

Warwick, an arts and marketing double major from Alpharetta, Ga., has served on arts and business student advisory councils and as president of the Samford circle of Omicron Delta Kappa leadership honor society. 

She was cited for her leadership roles in both Brock School of Business and the School of the Arts, and her "incredibly well-rounded and active involvement" in student life. In addition to starting Biblical Fellowship in the business school, she was integral to the creation of the now annual Arts Ambush day.

"She has excelled as leader, scholar, artist and diplomat.  She possesses the uncommon union of tact, grace intellect, and care. All of this is packaged with a positive attitude and genuine concern for those around her," wrote one nominator. Warwick plans a career in creative fundraising.

The names of the awardees are inscribed on a permanent plaque in the Harwell G. Davis Library.

The John C. Pittman Spirit Award was established in 2004 to honor the longtime Birmingham insurance executive's 50th anniversary as a member of the Samford Board of Trustees. The 1944 Samford graduate is now in his 61st year as a trustee.


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. The Wall Street Journal ranks Samford 1st nationally for student engagement and U.S. News & World Report ranks Samford 37th in the nation for best undergraduate teaching and 97th nationally for best value. Samford enrolls 5,758 students from 48 states and 22 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 3rd nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.