Student Awards


St. Catherine of Siena Research Award

The St. Catherine of Siena Undergraduate Peace and Justice Research Award will be given to an undergraduate student in Spring 2018 for a research paper and/or project relevant to peace and justice issues.

Students are invited to submit work completed in Spring 2018 and Fall 2018 semesters. Submissions should be at least six (6) pages. Submitted papers will be evaluated by the staff of the Center for Peace and Justice Education through a process of blind review.  Deadline for 2018 submission is TBA. A cash award will be presented to the awardee. Please submit papers to

Papers will be evaluated based on the following criteria:

  • Excellent writing and clear structure
  • Significant use of research with sources well integrated and thoughtfully utilized
  • Topic related to concerns of peace and/or justice
  • Demonstration of critical thinking, insight, and creativity
  • Appreciation of complexity
  • Ability to effectively defend claims
  • Ideally, offers constructive ideas in addition to identifying problems and challenges


2017 Award Recipient: Katie Boyce

2017 Award Recipient: Katie Boyce


Katie's paper titled: America's "Youth" Go to Nazi Germany: The Movement to Boycott the 1936 Olympics and the Racial Divide in American Society

2016 Award Recipient: Claire Kimilu

2016 Award Recipient: Claire Kimilu


Claire's paper titled: In the Shelter of Each Other: We Will Live Refugees in Kenya and the United States

2014 Award Recipient: John Catalano

2014 Award Recipient: John Catalano


John's paper titled: Empowerment through SNAP: From Hunger to Husbandry


2013 Award Recipient: Kevin Gallagher

2013 Award Recipient: Kevin Gallagher


Kevin's paper titled: Ethnicity and the State: Philosophies of Memory Preservation in Rwanda


Dorothy Day | Thomas Merton Award

The Dorothy Day | Thomas Merton Award is named after Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton who were two outstanding American contributors on the journey toward peace and justice. Their lives of study, writing, prayer and action have encouraged others to become involved in furthering the cause of justice and peace in the world.

This award is given to a graduating senior with a concentration or minor in Peace and Justice Education who has maintained academic excellence and made a significant contribution to the effort to further justice and peace during their 4 years at Villanova University.

2017 Recipient: Kara English

2017 Recipient: Kara English

The 2017 Dorothy Day – Thomas Merton Award was presented to Kara English. The primary focus of Kara’s studies and research has been on local, national, and international education systems. She has researched injustices in school lunch programs, and the strengths and weaknesses of the Charter School systems in Boston and New Orleans. In a Public Administration course, her research explored needs in the Philadelphia education system.  She went on to present a very well-received proposal to the Chief Operating Office of the Philadelphia School District on ways to help connect nonprofit organizations and change-makers with the school system.

Kara’s commitment to peace and justice extends well beyond the classroom, where she strives to put theory into practice. She has served at the Coordinated Homeless Outreach Centers in Norristown and has spent a semester tutoring immigrants and refugees at the Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians in Philadelphia.  

Last summer she was a Teaching Fellow in Boston, where she was trained in practices that reflect the connection between education and social justice.  There she taught Environmental Engineering and French to students of various ages and ethnicities.

For the past two years, she has served as a Catholic Relief Services Student Ambassador educating and advocating on behalf of CRS’s mission to provide international disaster relief and partnership-based integral human development programs.

Kara English has devoted herself, in both word and deed, to the promotion of peace, justice and the common good; diligently balancing her academic pursuits and extracurricular activities to contribute thoughtful, integrated solutions to very concrete, real world challenges.

She will be serving the next two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in the West African nation of Guinea.

2016 Recipient: Alissa Welker

2016 Recipient: Alissa Welker

Alissa Welker was co-recipient of the 2016 Dorothy Day-Thomas Merton Award. She graduated with an Environmental Science degree and a Peace and Justice minor. Her significant academic work include a course she took called International Development and Sustainability, she traveled to Panama to study and work on Water Resource Management in the town of Wacuco.  Upon returning her group created a pamphlet and educational materials, which are now being distributed throughout the community.

For Alissa it was quite natural to extend her intellectual curiosity, passion and moral convictions beyond the classroom where she was involved in numerous student organizations such as HHAW, SREHUP, PESC, & IGR – groups whose projects seek to promote human dignity, social justice and the common good.

Alissa’s focus was not limited to Villanova’s campusIn addition to her work with the project partner in Panama, she also examined peace and justice issues during her semester abroad.  While in Ecuador she conducted interviews for a project that examined sustainable agriculture practices on a forest preserve on the coast of Ecuador.  Additionally, through an internship with an international NGO in Quito, she was able to explore the reality of applying sustainable practices in a developing nation. Alissa's experience volunteering at a daycare center at a local garbage transfer station in Quito also helped her to better understand the daily realities that many live in and how social structures in place perpetuate these issues.”

Alissa shares her sentiments, “The Peace and Justice Department has been fundamental in shaping who I want to be as a person…”  Next year Alissa will be working in Sioux Falls, SD at a company that works to promote sustainable agriculture.”

2016 Recipient: Adam Vincent

2016 Recipient: Adam Vincent

Adam Vincent was co-recipeint of the 2016 Dorothy Day-Thomas Merton Award. Adam used the service work of tutoring in RUIBAL and COV to become an advocate for environmentalism with Service Council.  This coincided with a service experience to Ecuador, where he put into practice what he learned in IR and CPJE courses such as Race, Class, and Gender and Multicultural Leadership.  Furthering his passion to make the world more peaceful and just, this outstanding graduate also interned at the UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development in Rome, which afforded him a deeper understanding of the migration crisis and the role of media.  This experience prepared him for the position of head writer in the Social Justice Documentary class.

In his own words, “perhaps I can best work for justice by creating (or being) transformative experiences for other people.”  This captures the essence of why he is receiving this award.  No doubt this work will continue to be carried out, as our 2016 recipient will be a Fulbright EnglishTeaching Assistant in Turkey next year, serving as an intellectual ambassador.

2015 Recipient: Kayla Cooke

2015 Recipient: Kayla Cooke

The 2015 Dorothy Day-Thomas Merton Award was presesnted to Kayla Cooke. She distinguished herself at Villanova when she began to integrate and apply her education almost immediately and put her keen abilities and particular position to work even within our university setting. This is especially true when it comes to her involvement in the evolving dialogue and discussion around sexual assault and rape on university campuses, including Villanova’s. Over the years she has worked together on several projects around this issue on campus.  She was part of a cohort that sought to focus attention on to sexual violence in the American context. And NovaSVA was born. Since then she moved from member to VP and then president of this extremely active student group on campus. During her tenure ast Villanova Kayla was the organizer and moderator for a discussion on sexual assault and rape on campus put on by NovaSVA. They were able to secure one of the nations top lawyers who has litigated some very high profile sexual assault cases. 

2014 Recipient: Noelle Mapes

2014 Recipient: Noelle Mapes

The 2014 Dorothy Day-Thomas Merton Award was presented to Noelle Mapes. She was an English major with a concentration in Peace and Justice studies. She also had minors in Philosophy, Africana Studies, and Spanish. Her experiences of studying abroad in Chile and Ecuador gave her an international scope and perspective. Even though she had many courses across several disciplines, her interest in peace and justice permeated everything she did at Villanova and in the larger world. She was active on campus working as an editor of the school newspaper and with the Center for Multicultural Affairs. She was one of the few students chosen to give college tours to prospective students and their families.  She always made a point of including the center in her tours.

Noelle was also active off-campus. During every one of her four years she volunteered at a soup kitchen (St. Francis Inn) in Kensington, Philadelphia.  This experience educated her in issues of education, economic and racial disparity, and advocacy.  During her sophomore year she volunteered at the Young Women's Leadership School at Rhodes High School. This is an experimental high school for single gender education for low-income families.

She was also active in Villanova's service break experiences. She went to Birmingham Alabama to work on homes destroyed in a tornado as well as a mission experience Chicago working in a Latino section of the city.  Noelle also studied abroad in Guayaquil Ecuador. Every morning she worked at a shelter for young homeless girls. She taught them basic reading and writing and mathematics.

Next year she will be attending the Teachers College at Columbia University for a year-long Masters program called Elementary Inclusion Education. She will focus on multiculturalism in underserved schools.  She credits her experience with the center for peace and justice as place that equipped her pursue her ambitions in elementary education. “Peace and justice taught me to knowledge the complexities of the world, while also realizing that I'm able of making real change.”

Past Recipients

2016: Alissa Welker & Adam Vincent

2015: Kayla Cooke

2014: Noelle Mapes

2013: Caitlin Billingham & Emily Several

2012: Ellen Salmi

2011: Jen Maez

2010: Amy Richards

2009: Gail Sondermeyer

2008: Amy Knop-Narbutis

2007: Emma Stewart

2006: Diane L. Coffey

2005: Kathleen E.Krackenberger

2004: Caitlin Fouratt & Melissa Wibbens

2003: Nancy R. Steedle

2002: Teresa C. Mambu

2001: Megan A. Kasimatis & Craig E. Hickein

2000: David O. Suetholz

1999: Andrea Maresca

1998: Vincent J. Coccia

1996: Michael E. Kennedy

1995: Raj Chablani

1994: Tara Coughlin

1993: Nantiya Ruan

1992: Stephen M. Smith

1991: Steven G. Liga

1989: Gregory Tucci

1988: Ingrid M. Birnbach

1987: Michael P. McGinnis

Thomas J. Mentzer Award

Each year, Villanova University sponsors The Thomas J. Mentzer Award. The Award honors a graduating Villanova senior who has contributed significantly, through his or her service, to "expanding opportunities for the poor and marginalized." The award consists of a cash stipend and an inscribed plaque.

The award remembers Thomas J. Mentzer, a Villanova graduate of 1955, who later became a faculty member in the History Department. He was active in many of the social issues of the time, including work to oppose racial conflict and segregation. He died in an automobile accident in 1968.

Center for Peace and Justice Education staff selects the award recipient from among the nominations from the Villanova community following careful consideration of the list of candidates and supporting materials. Please send your recommendations with supporting information to the Director of the Center for Peace and Justice Education,

2017 Recipient: Brendan Carchidi

Brendan Carchidi is a courageous advocate for the poor and members of marginalized communities in the United States and abroad. His service and academic endeavors throughout his time at Villanova reflect not only a lifelong commitment to the pursuit of justice, but an approach which applies an extensive understanding of the systemic oppression of racial and ethnic minorities as well as other minoritized communities.

In the United States, Brendan served as a tutor at Cristo Rey High School where he also helped students with learning and physical disabilities. As an unpaid intern in the Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians, he taught ESL classes, and tutored Arabic-speaking refugees struggling with English. In Massachusetts he worked with the Medway House for Women and tutored an asylee from the Democratic Republic of Congo in English and assisted with her integration into the United States.

While abroad Brendan taught English to orphans ranging from ages 4 to 18 in Jordan; he also worked with the Collateral Repair Project where he planned and implemented summer programming for Syrian and Iraqi refugee youth from ages 4 to 13. Brendan has also worked as a Cultural Ambassador in the Saudi Young Leaders Exchange Program by the U.S. Embassy and he was also the U.S. Department of State Virtual Youth Education Advisor.

At Villanova Brendan has worked tirelessly behind the scenes and on the frontlines of several movements to give voice to voiceless students, immigrants, and students of color. He was part of a team that organized marches and demonstrations for the Black Lives Matter movement. He also organized protests against public safety carrying guns on campus. Brendan is the founder and co-president of the Student Commission for Diversity and Inclusion at Villanova, which provides students with a helpful avenue to address diversity issues with Villanova’s administration.

Brendan has been awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to research the intersections between gender and human rights in Amman, Jordan. He then hopes to pursue a dual master's degree in Middle East Studies and Public Policy with a concentration in international human rights and humanitarian aid. The Center for Peace and Justice Education was thrilled to offer the 2017 Thomas J. Mentzer award to Brendan Carchidi.

Past Recipients:

2016: Rodrigo Rivera. After coursework on the criminal justice system, Rodrigo Rivera was determined to gain access to serve as a tutor for men at Graterford Prison, a maximum security facility 40 minutes west of campus.  Rodrigo has been tutoring weekly throughout his senior year.  And in his final semester at Villanova, Rodrigo took on a second weekly commitment at the prison, agreeing to be the facilitator of an experimental discussion group with a group of men incarcerated there.  It is rare for an undergraduate to be given such a responsibility, but it is a sign of Rodrigo’s talent, reliability, and his many experiences of serving others.   Rodrigo has volunteered at a homeless shelter, assisted with the Villanova Law Clinic program, chaired a Special Olympics committee, and has contributed to a new Hispanic/Latino Outreach group on campus.  Rodrigo has served as an intern at the Northeast/Mid-Atlantic Regional Office of Catholic Relief Services and at the New York DA’s Office where he got involved in re-entry programming for ex-offenders.  We congratulate Rodrigo on his tremendous efforts and his generosity of spirit to make visible the needs of those who are often overlooked.

2015: Patrick K. Williams’ service efforts over his time at Villanova reflected an unwavering dedication to improving and impacting the lives of young children in poor areas. Pat, a key four-year Varsity football player, no matter how busy, always made time to volunteer and give back to the community. Every Thursday, he volunteered at the St. Barnabas Women and Children's Shelter in Philadelphia where he spent time as a positive role model for the kids there. Other student-athletes and Campus Ministry volunteers went to the shelter, but impressively, Pat never missed a week in his four years at Villanova. It was evident how much the kids love Pat and especially how much of an impact he made as a great male figure for many of the children who do not have fathers in their families. Undoubtedly, Patrick Williams makes helping others the priority in his life. Pat's strength, determination to give back, and his commitment to positively impacting the lives of those struggling around him, made him an outstanding recipient of the Mentzer Award. His refreshing perspective, empathy and ability to recognize what specific populations need, reflect the vital work of a role model with a huge heart for the many youth and people experiencing homelessness he encountered.

2014: Ariana Meltzer-Bruhn
- Ariana is the founder and driving force behind the Villanova student organization, LEVEL, a group which is dedicated to bridging gaps between differently-abled students both in and out of the classroom. Ariana and LEVEL have made it possible for students of all abilities to be together, not only for studying, but for parties and gatherings, too. For her remarkable efforts to imagine alternatives to the marginalization of those with different abilities, for her work to inspire her peers to expand their understanding of community on campus, and for helping us all to dismantle stereotypes and misconceptions, we honor Ariana Meltzer-Bruhn with the 2014 Thomas J. Mentzer Award.

2013: Jay Tighe - A Villanova Presidential Scholar, Jay Tighe has excelled as an Economics and International Business major. His interest in the international nonprofit sector took him to study abroad in London as a freshman, where he interned at a human rights nonprofit that encourages investments and creates jobs in Africa. Jay studied abroad as a junior in Argentina, where he taught English at a community center

During his time at Villanova University Jay has made it his mission to advocate for people who are living in poverty and on the margins of society. In 2011, he joined a group of Villanova students working to establish the Student-Run Emergency Housing Unit of Philadelphia (SREHUP) a student-led non-profit that provides shelter, food, and community to individuals experiencing homelessness in Philadelphia. Jay exhibited unrelenting commitment to this organization and to the people it served. The founding members of SREHUP recognized his dedication and elected Jay to the position of executive director.  As executive director of two student run homeless shelters, Jay trained over 200 volunteers in cultural sensitivity and awareness to work with the homeless population.

Jay truly shined when he was at the shelter, providing care and comfort to people who had long been ignored by society. He saw the enormous potential in all guests and worked to help them achieve stability and independence.

Jay’s hands-on work with guests gave him an understanding of the myriad of pathways into homelessness, and the structural barriers in place which make it difficult to climb out of homelessness. Jay could have been content with the work he did to improve the lives of the people in the SREHUP shelters. But rather than rest, he engaged in work to improve the plight of all people living on the streets. He did this by advocating for policy change on issues related to ending homelessness- such as education reform, job creation, and fair housing initiates.  In April 2012, Jay attended the prestigious Clinton Global Initiative University Meeting- moderated by President Clinton. CGI U brings together approximately 1,000 students from all over the world, along with nonprofit leaders, entrepreneurs, and celebrities engaged in efforts to create positive change. The three day conference included workshops where Jay learned from world leaders about how to initiate policy change for social justice. Since his trip Jay has worked to provide other students with opportunities to advocate for the poor and marginalized. After graduation, Jay plans to work in international nonprofits to help ensure people have access to clean water, food and health care.

2012: Kristen Valosky 
- A champion and community advocate for marginalized populations such as those experiencing homelessness and poverty, Kristen Valosky’s service and academic efforts over her time at Villanova reflect not only a lifelong commitment to the pursuit of justice, but an approach which applies an extensive understanding of the core systemic issues related to the complex nature of poverty.

Kristen used the work she did at LIFT Philadelphia (a nonprofit organization and antipoverty movement which meets critical and crisis needs of people who live in poverty) to initiate a productive partnership between LIFT and Villanova’s Sophomore Service Learning Community. After teaching West Philadelphia residents how to write resumes, apply for jobs, find affordable housing, apply for public benefits, and locate agencies for childcare and healthcare, Kristen wanted other students to have a chance to explore their desire to work for more equality of opportunity in the world.

Her Honors senior thesis, entitled “The Criminalization of Homelessness in Chester, PA,” offered another way of expanding opportunities for the poor – by discovering that the growing tourist economy in Chester connected to increased police action towards people experiencing homelessness who occupy public space around the soccer stadium for the Philadelphia Union. With publication, she hopes work like this will begin to change negative perceptions about Chester and other cities like it, and promote more compassion and understanding towards people experiencing homelessness.

Kristen’s other service work during college further reveals her commitment to seek justice for all. She has tutored in an adult literacy program at Urban Bridges, shared meals with the patrons of St. Agatha’s Soup Kitchen, mentored children at schools in Philadelphia and at camps at the Orphanage Outreach Program in the Dominican Republic, constructed a house with the Felder family in Marion, South Carolina, and cheered on York County soccer in Special Olympics. Kristen also tirelessly educates her peers who participate in service through her membership in the Sophomore Service Learning Community and as an active leader in Campus Ministry through Hunger Awareness Week and Water for Waslala.

Her self-defined mission, “engaging in advocacy and community efforts to tackle issues related to urban economic crises,” will continue to be carried out as Kristen studies public interest law at Georgetown University next year. This will allow her to empower people by working on a systemic level while maintaining the personal contact so essential to community formation and necessary for the success of any anti-poverty effort.

2011: Jeffrey Sved - A Chemical Engineering Major with a minor in Theology. Jeff has been a truly remarkable example of commitment to the poor and marginalized.  As a model of servant leadership he has worked tirelessly to improve the depth and breadth of everything with which he is involved. 

Jeff’s commitment to service and social justice is best reflected in his commitment to the homeless.  Since his freshmen year Jeff has been involved with and led weekly trips to both St. Francis Inn and St. Agatha’s soup kitchens in Philadelphia.  As a leader he innovated new ways to engage volunteers to support Villanova’s community partner organizations.  For example, Jeff built campus partnerships with offices like Dining Services and Athletics to negotiate the legalities required to donate unused food each day, or to set up large scale donation drives during men’s basketball games.  Jeff’s t dedication and creativity have spawned countless initiatives and projects that have engaged and benefited the community. 

Over the years leading weekly soup kitchen trips, Jeff has always affirmed the dignity and humanity of the guests as friends.  He was clever and fearless in sitting down and conversing with the guests during meals.  Eventually, he started assigning student volunteers the task in order to get them to step out of their comfort zones and break down artificial social barriers.  Jeff’s leadership has not only profoundly impacted student volunteers, but the community as well.  Now, one can enter St. Agatha’s and hear the friendly welcomes of “family” as guests approach to greet arriving volunteers.  As a direct result of Jeff’s leadership, the University City Hospitality Coalition, which runs St. Agatha’s, has changed its mission statement to include building mutual relationships between guests and volunteers for all of it soup kitchens.  All of this is motivated by Jeff’s sincere love of God and neighbor, and the desire to serve and advocate for the poor and marginalized members of our human family. 

Jeff has served remarkably in many other capacities on campus:  as a Chair of Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week, as a member of the Service Learning Community; as a leader in the Service Break Program, as a pioneering member and Leadership Chair of Campus Ministry’s Service Council – a service, social justice, and spirituality leadership formation program.  During his senior year Jeff organized the newly reformed Community Outreach of Villanova Steering Committee, which coordinates volunteer leadership development and logistics for Campus Ministry’s weekly service programs. 

After graduation Jeff will be serving for two years with Jesuit Volunteer Corps’ International Program in Micronesia, and he is discerning a career working in a field of social justice ministry.

2010: Emily Felesenthal - As the founder of Villanova’s chapter of Invisible Children, a movement seeking to end the war in Northern Uganda, stop the abduction of children as soldiers, and lend essential support through rebuilding schools and providing jobs, Emily Felsenthal’s leadership resulted in significant educational and fundraising efforts and the collection of 23,000 books for Ugandan students. The chapter’s membership now exceeds fifty, and has become in a very short time a flagship chapter among colleges nationally.

On another front, Emily with a handful of friends launched a new restorative justice workshop for inmates at Graterford Prison, a ten week program that is scheduled to begin in the fall. Concurrently, she has been involved in creating a course at Villanova to get more students involved in this restorative justice work.

While in Lima, Peru, she worked in a shelter for mothers and children with HIV/AIDS, and developed a program that used art projects to help the students with their reading, writing, and math skills. Building on that experience and seeking more permanent and institutional support for poor children, Emily founded “Victor’s Vision,” a supplemental school day program for orphans in Chulucanas, Peru that will expand to include preparation for college and scholarship programs. She is currently in the process of making this organization a 501©3 certified NGO, and intends to extend its reach for orphans across Latin America.

2009: Sarah Arscott - This Award recipient for 2009 is Sarah Arscott, a major in Mechanical Engineering. As president of the Villanova student chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB), Ms. Arscott’s leadership was pivotal in advancing the group from a membership of 5 to what is now a registration of over 150. During her tenure, the group has completed an impressive array of projects locally, nationally, and internationally. These projects include making plans for and the building of walking ramps for Villanova’s annual Special Olympics Fall Festival; design and construction of a playground in one of the communities devastated by Hurricane Katrina; and the installation of a gravity-flow water system to deliver clean drinking water to an orphanage and several villages in Thailand. Throughout its work, EWB avidly pursued opportunities for solidarity, for example, through careful collaboration with parents, students, and faculty in Louisiana, as well as with the people of northern Thailand.Sarah has also worked closely with Water for Waslala in Nicaragua, and has for several years helped coordinate its annual Walk for Water.In the words of Dean of Engineering Dr. Gary Gabriele, Sarah Arscott “has used her technical and organizational skills as a means of not only serving but also empowering the poor, marginalized, and disadvantaged around the world.” Congratulations,-and thank you- Sarah!

2008: Katrine Herrick - The 2008 award recipient is Katrine Herick, a School of Business, Management major, with a concentration in Peace and Justice Studies. Katrine is a young woman who has both compassion for the poor and a desire for justice. Since her freshman year she has consciously, deliberately, and consistently found ways to bring compassion and justice to all that she does through her academic work, internships, and services in the United States and abroad. She has risen to positions of leadership that have allowed her to deepen the level of understanding and engagement in the struggle for justice for herself and the Villanova community. Next year, Katrine will be serving as a Field Associate for NETWORK, the Catholic National Social Justice Lobby. Congratulations — and thank you — Katrine!

2007: Christine Feldmeier - she is the recipient of the award in 2007 is Ms. Christine Feldmeier, a major in Chemistry and Biochemistry. Christine has been part of the Villanova Habitat for Humanity steering committee since her sophomore year, and has served as an affiliate director. She has participated in mission trips to Chulucanas, Peru, and, as co-leader, to Durban, South Africa, and currently volunteers at Siloam, a center for AIDS wellness in Philadelphia. Most notably, Christine has initiated two projects in the impoverished province of San Juan la Maguana in the Dominican Republic. Forging a partnership with her hometown community of Beaver, Pennsylvania, she has helped to sponsor San Juan’s health care clinic, and has worked there herself in the delivery of pre-natal examinations, vaccinations, and instruction about sanitation and the prevention of infection. In addition, she launched a program of teaching piano to children and teenagers in the province that has expanded both an awareness of their human possibility as well as their economic opportunity.

Next year Christine Feldmeier will study medicine at Thomas Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia, where she intends to continue to enlist support for and serve the San Juan clinic. She plans, in her words, “to use my medical training in the future to continue to make a difference in the lives of the poor.” Congratulations—and thank you--Christine!

2006: Jaime C. Gentile

2005: Bryan C. Rivera

2004: Matthew D. Nespoli

2003: Nancy Steedle

2002: Teresa Mambu

2001: Michael S. McGlinnis

2000: Paola Gaines

Joseph Betz Solidarity Award

The Solidarity Award is presented to a graduating senior or seniors concentrating in Peace and Justice Studies in exceptional circumstances to recognize distinctive service to the cause of justice and peace.

After 45 years of teaching at Villanova University, beloved philosophy professor Joseph Betz retired in May 2011.  Joe's knowledge of social and political issues, and his commitment to active involvement in anti-war and social justice movements in the U.S. and around the world inspired generations of Villanova students and countless colleagues.  Among his many contributions to Villanova, Joe served as the faculty adviser for Amnesty International for 30 years.  He is the longest serving faculty adviser for any Amnesty chapter anywhere in the United States.  Joe was the 2009 recipient of the Lawrence C. Gallen, OSA, Faculty Service Award.

In honor of his steadfast leadership in countless social justice and peace movements, and his unflinching resolve to stand against injustice wherever it is found, the Center for Peace and Justice Education renamed its "Solidarity award" for Professor Betz.  This tribute is a small acknowledgment of the tremendous impact of a man who lives his commitment to peace and justice each and every day.

Past Recipients

2016 Jane Richter
Jane graduated with a degree in Political Science and Humanities and a minor in Peace and Justice. Jane is a worthy recipient of the Joseph Betz Solidarity Award.  Her interest in service to those experiencing homelessness or poverty began early.  In high school she interned for a local nonprofit called Midnight Run that organized volunteers to donate food, clothes, and toiletries and bring them to particular places in New York City to distribute to those experiencing homelessness and to make conversation and provide company.  She next interned at an organization that assisted in saving extra food from restaurants and connecting it to food banks and shelters.  And later service experiences involved being a youth leader at Bethlehem Farm for a month, interning at a foster care agency called Abbott House, and then working as an intern at the Aquinas Center in Philadelphia.

When Jane got to Villanova, she immediately immersed herself in campus activities focusing on social justice.  She participated in Service Council her freshman year, along with the St. Thomas of Villanova Day of Service committee, and joined the Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week committee.  The following year, she participated in homelessness-oriented service while in the Service Learning Community with the Philadelphia Coalition to End Homelessness and the Student Run Emergency Housing Unit of Philadelphia for which she later became the president, and led a Villanova break trip to Auxier, Kentucky.

Jane’s activities included much campus related activism: she participated in a climate march on campus, helped organize protests against guns on campus, getting her sorority to focus on philanthropy for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund, and finally, lending her voice to the Villanova Voices singing for the residents of area nursing homes.  I participated in routine service with my sorority’s philanthropy, JDRF, and sang at nursing homes with my choir, the Villanova Voices.   

Jane’s academic focus was rich and extensive and intentionally broadened her understanding of the ways in which people are forsaken or abused by social and political forces and policies in order to better serve them. Jane Richter is truly a person who lives and works in consummate solidarity with those who suffer and thus richly deserves being selected for this award.


2015 Nora Doherty
Nora graduated with a degree in Psychology and a Concentration in Peace and Justice Studies. Nora participated in the RUIBAL Challenge which is an all-freshman service program that allows a group of first-year Villanova students the opportunity to build community by volunteering one day a week to serve and support children in inner-city Philadelphia schools and community centers. As a sophomore, she joined the Service Learning Community and through that found SREHUP, the student run emergency homeless shelter, where she served on the executive board.   

In her junior year, Nora held a position on the CRS executive board, specifically the migration group. Before the school year even started, she and her co-leader were collaborating with the law school on a project to raise funds for an Ecuadorian woman, Margarita, who was recovering from being trafficked and now attending nursing school.   

In the spring semester of her junior year, she studied in Seville, Spain where she took a human rights class, learned many of the existing issues in Spain, and did a service learning component in which she spent 5 hours a week volunteering at a daycare for Romani children (“gypsies”).  That summer after junior year, she worked at a summer academy for lower income middle school students in Boston.

As a senior, Nora led a service break trip to Monte Cristi, Dominican Republic, as she continued volunteering weekly with SREHUP, where she took on more leadership roles.  Since she had an easier class load her final semester, she “wanted to do something else with [her] time so [she] began tutoring a refugee from Afghanistan in English. “ After graduation,  Nora will be a part of Teach for America, working as a middle school math teacher at UP Academy in Lawrence, MA.

2014: Siobhan Cooney 
Siobhan graduated with a Theology degree and a concentration in Peace and Justice Studies. Siobhan has always been an incredibly service oriented individual. Giving back to those around her is very important, which is why she is continuing her work next year by doing a year of service. Siobhan started out volunteering at the Student Run Emergency Housing Unit of Philadelphia in her sophomore year, and has served as advocacy director since her junior year. She works hard to form relationships with members of the group and individuals at the housing unit, and also encourages friends to join her for her weekly shift. She went on two Service Break Trips and then decided to lead one trip her senior year.  

She was a Chair for MLK Day of Service from freshmen through junior year. She has served on the Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week Committee for the past four years. She was on the Service Council, was a member of SLC, and was recognized for her commitment to service through her induction into Alpha Phi Omega, the service fraternity. Almost each of her service activities has worked to expand opportunities for the poor and marginalized, which is a choice she has made very intentionally.

Siobhan has a very mature faith-life, from which flows a very natural commitment to social justice.  Her commitment to putting her faith into practice is one of the things that people admire most about her.  She is cognizant of the global scope of challenges facing humanity, and understands her place as a global citizen working for the common good.  She has been powerfully inspired and challenged by principles of Catholic Social Teaching -- particularly, by the principles of Solidarity and the Preferential Option of the Poor. 

While service and putting her faith into action are central for Siobhan, she also has a very advanced grasp of how imperative it is to commit herself to alleviating systemic and structural injustice.  Her next step on this journey of solidarity will lead her to a year of service with JVC Northwest serving and accompanying those experiencing homelessness in Seattle.
For more information about Siobhan's award.

2014: Carolyn Rau
Carolyn graduated with a Political Science degree and a minor in Peace & Justice Studies. She has demonstrated a commitment to justice and solidarity through her academic interests – including 4 different internships with domestic and international nonprofits which focused on issues ranging from hunger/food security, to peacebuilding, to international poverty relief and development – as well as through her four year extracurricular commitments – including service through the St. Thomas of Villanova Day of Service, RUIBAL Challenge, Service Learning Community, Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week and most notably four years as a central member of the Catholic Relief Service’s student Ambassador program (serving an unprecedented two years as Co-President). However, it is best to let this individual’s own words speak for themselves: “The Peace and Justice program has provided me with thought-provoking courses, inspirational professors and mentors, and meaningful extracurricular activities that have both challenged and motivated me. It has given me opportunities to learn about injustices throughout the world and begin to search for solutions. I am confident that I will use my studies and experiences from the Peace and Justice program in my career pursuits working in the nonprofit world. The passions I have been able to explore through Peace and Justice are the same passions that I am hoping to turn into a lifelong commitment to serving the poor and marginalized throughout the world and in my own community.

Much of what I have learned in my study of Peace and Justice will continue to guide my life and future career decisions. I have learned that we each have a commitment to recognize areas of injustice around the world and in our own community and do all that we can to understand and right the wrong. I have also learned that issues of injustice and inequality are interconnected by a web of complexities that should not serve to intimidate us into inaction but to inspire us to be challenged.”

2013: Marissa Pardue
“Solidarity is not a feeling of vague compassion or shallow distress at the misfortunes of so many people, both near and far. On the contrary, it is a firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good; that is to say, to the good of all and of each individual, because we are all really responsible for all."On Social Concern (Sollicitudo rei Socialis. . . ), #38

Marissa majored in Sociology, had a concentration in Peace and Justice and a minor in Classical Studies. She is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and received numerous scholarships and awards. Despite her impressive academic record, this award recognized her commitment to living in solidarity with those who have little power and no voice about the world in which they live.  During the past 4 years, Marissa served off campus with Ruibal, Dream Camp, The Camden Center for Environmental Transformation, Habitat for Humanity, Buildinguate Guatemala, Greener Partners, Food Not Bombs, PAWS (Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society),  and a local rescue group, Spay and Save. 
While on campus, she co-chaired Villanova Environmental Group, co-founded Villanovans in Defense of Animals, served as campaign advocate for Real Food Challenge (which targets college campuses) and reconstituted Villanova’s Just Food group.

Writing about her work in our program, she said:
“After taking numerous courses in Peace and Justice, I began to connect my interest in the environment with issues of oppression, as I focused on environmental racism and environmental justice issues.  Such a focus transitioned into food justice issues, food deserts, food insecurity, and subsequent racial health disparities, before then encompassing sustainable agricultural practices, and ethical means of production and consumption.  Basing many of my research assignments on these topics, I began to alter my own internal value system to include an intentionally compassionate lifestyle premised on the avoidance of pain and suffering for as many beings as possible.  My interest in veganism and veganic agriculture are rooted in my ultimate passion for peace and justice and desire to see all beings with eyes of compassion, as I believe peace in its most basic form begins with our diet and lifestyle choices”. 

Because of her seamless commitment to living in Solidarity with those most vulnerable to the way we live, we congratulate Marissa Pardue and thank her for the example she has set for us all.

2012: Lauren Adderly
Lauren graduated with a triple major in Biology, Theology, and Honors and a concentration in Peace and Justice. As a sophomore, she was one of the founding chairs of Service Council, a formation program for student leaders in faith, service, and justice. She remained involved with Service Council as head chair as a junior and senior. Lauren also served as president of Villanovans for Life, a large, active student group that was a voice for defending human life consistently against the threats of abortion, the death penalty, war, and euthanasia. Each Saturday, she led a group of students to volunteer at a Philadelphia nursing home with the elderly poor and still holds those relationships close to her heart. For three summers, she lived with a religious community on the Turtle Mountain Chippewa reservation in North Dakota, learning to play guitar and ride horses while helping to run a summer camp for hundreds of reservation children and teenagers. For her Honors senior thesis, she examined how Catholic lay movements (specifically the Catholic Worker and the Community of Sant'Egidio) enrich a traditional understanding of charity. Currently, she is living with the Houston Catholic Worker community in their house of hospitality for immigrant women and children.

2012: Caitlin Ingraham
With a major in Biology, concentrations in Peace and Justice Studies, Ethics of Healthcare, and Honors, and minors in Spanish and Theology, Cait thrived in an interdisciplinary approach to her studies. Her plans to become a physician who practices medicine as a form of social justice have been shaped by her Peace and Justice courses and her involvement at the House of Grace Catholic Worker free health clinic in Philadelphia. Cait served as Head Chair of Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, working to make the Villanova community aware of inequality locally and globally, and to provide opportunities for advocacy and action to create change. Cait explored international health care issues as a Global Impact fellow with Unite for Sight and participated in the Service Council. Cait is serving for a year after graduation as a Client Advocate at a women and children’s shelter in Tucson, AZ with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps.

2011: Caitlin Greene 
Caitlin has been not only a great Peace and Justice Student, but a leader of one of our most active student groups.  As an English major and peace and justice minor, she maintains a GPA of 3.8, and even higher in her peace and Justice classes.  Outside of the classroom, Caitlin’s leadership within the Villanova Environment



Justice in Business Award

The Justice-in-Business Award is a joint initiative of the Center for Peace and Justice Education and the Center for Church Management and Business Ethics.  The award is designed to encourage the development of innovative business practices that incorporate justice and work to increase social equity in the world.

Eligible nominees are senior undergraduate students who have accomplished one or more of the following during their time at Villanova:
*demonstrated, in theory or practice, how the interaction of business and justice can enhance human dignity and the common good
*engaged in a creative project or initiative to support the connection between business and justice
*laid the foundations to integrate business and justice in one’s future life and career.

Call for Nominations 2018 Justice-in-Business Award

Faculty, staff, and students are invited to submit the name of a deserving candidate for the award to by Friday, April 6,2018. Self-nominations are welcome.

Along with the name, please indicate in what capacity you know the nominee and briefly state how the student has accomplished one or more of the above criteria.

The winner of the 2018 Justice-in-Business Award will be announced in early May and honored at the Center for Peace and Justice Education Graduation ceremony.

2017: Jonathan Pizzutti. He graduated both with a degree in economics and with one of the first independently designed majors in Peace and Justice.  Jonathan’s course work, service, activism, and research exemplified the synthesis of spirituality, ethics, and economics that the award is specified to honor. The recipient of this year’s award has fulfilled all three of these conditions.  He has taken a variety of courses across several disciplines that deal with poverty, war and peace, racial inequality, and ecological protection.  At the same time, he has engaged in service and activism as co-President of Business Without Borders, a student group that links with non-profit organizations, fundraises for microfinance loans, assists low-income individuals in completing tax forms, and hosts lectures and small group discussions on campus.  As a recipient of the Ron Cruse International Fellowship, he also created a partnership with an international development agency in Nicaragua that both assessed the needs of business in impoverished areas of the country and initiated a financial education scholarship program for 1,000 businesses.  He was also a student representative on the Committee on Socially Responsible Proxy Voting that evaluates Villanova's investments from a moral perspective and utilizes shareholder voting rights to promote social responsibility.  He has also worked as an Economic Justice Intern for the Thomas Merton Center to build a network of worker-owned cooperatives in Pittsburgh, and as a Strategic Consulting Intern at Opportunity Finance Network to consult financial institutions that serve historically underserved communities. Moreover, our recipient has engaged in two noteworthy research projects.  His senior seminar project examined and critiqued the dominance of neoclassical economics in undergraduate teaching.

Past Recipients:

2016: Nicholas Carney. Senior student Nick Carney received the 2016 Justice in Business Award for his outstanding service to various communities over the course of his four years at Villanova University. His involvement with the Center for Peace and Justice Education began in his freshman year, after working with his faculty mentor in the business school. While taking classes in both business and peace and justice, he made the conscious decision to leverage this training to serve the larger community, from fundraising for groups like LEVEL to marketing for Special Olympics. He also spent my summer before his senior year interning with a nonprofit, Special Olympics Pennsylvania, rather than pursuing an internship with a large corporation. This coming year he will be starting a career-oriented job working for a marketing agency designed to help small and medium-sized businesses compete and be successful. His ultimate goal is to also leverage the knowledge gained to work in the nonprofit industry, either as an entrepreneur or a consultant. His education, especially through CPJE, has allowed him to provide a voice for marginalized people who we often treat without acknowledging their human dignity.

2015: Kelly Gabriel.
Kelly sees how business skills can promote human dignity and serve the common good. She recognizes that her chosen field of marketing allows practitioners to disseminate and promote information to various populations; they can advocate for public health, happiness, and justice. During the summer of 2013, she researched the relationships among religiosity, materialism, and life satisfaction.  In February, Kelly submitted this research as a paper which is presently under consideration for publication with the Journal of Macromarketing.This spring she presented a paper on gendered products and how some marketers perpetuate harmful gender roles in society. 

The intersection of marketing and justice can also be witnessed in Kelly’s impressive work as a Domestic Violence Counselor at the Montgomery County Women’s Center. She has presented ideas on domestic violence and safe dating to local high schools, including Haverford High School.This summer, she is continuing counseling work at the women’s center, and is working on improving its marketing efforts to increase awareness of domestic violence.

Kelly is on the Dean’s List, in the Honors Program and a member of the Beta Gamma Sigma Honor Society.  She graduates from the Schoool of Business with a marketing major but will continue studying at Villanova part-time in Gender and Women’s Studies. Kelly hopes to pursue an academic career and is committed – in her words – to always “work through a lens of justice and enhancing the common good.”

2014: John Catalano. John came to Villanova to study in the business school, leaving his comfortable suburban life behind. The first two years went by quickly, and John sought new ways to challenge himself intellectually and ideologically. He confronted his beliefs about poverty in all of its manifestations. What emerged was a new sense of God's grace and a path that would introduce him to people around the world who live difficult lives that reveal both their humanity and diligence in the face of insurmountable impoverishment. John became deeply interested in food security as one of the fundamental rights of all members of our human family. This concern led him to rethink governmental policy in this regard and seek more lasting and dignified solutions.

During his time at Villanova, John has served as a member and facilitator of the Sophomore Service Learning Community.  He has tutored high school students in West Philadelphia and volunteered with both Veterans Comfort House and the Philadelphia Committee to End Homelessness.  This past year he has served as a client advocate at LIFT West Philadelphia which helps individuals look for a job, apply for benefits, search for subsidized housing, and the like.  For two years he has served as a Student Ambassador for Catholic Relief Services, focusing on Microfinance and Fair Trade. And last semester, when we put out a call for student help to organize a powerful memorial to victims of gun violence, John stepped in to co-lead the effort alongside graduating senior, Grace Cipressi.

He has worked faithfully to educate himself in business and justice, moving toward a possible career in social responsibility, microfinance, or nonprofit management.