Batten Pilot and Legacy Awards Announced

combined awardsAs the academic year closes, the Batten community has come together to honor several exemplary students who have been nominated by peers, faculty and staff for their consistent and superior work and dedication inside and outside the classroom. These awards are based on principles and traits exemplary of and important to our founder, the late Frank Batten, Sr.


updated MPP awards

Pilot Awards (Graduate Students)

The Pilot Award is named for The Virginian-Pilot, the newspaper Batten helmed in his early career.  The Batten Graduate Council annually invites students, faculty, and staff to nominate graduating Master of Public Policy students for one of five Pilot Awards. The awards recognize the recipients’ leadership, impact, and service within the greater university and policy communities.

Congratulations to this year’s recipients! Below are excerpts from their nominations. 

Policy Analysis Impact Award 

Maggie Sparling

Maggie is an incredibly talented policy analyst, to the point where she has been asked to advise policymakers and to present her research and commentary on national security at multiple conferences to military professionals. She brings a nuanced, thoughtful, and human-centered perspective to the national security space and is an amazing citizen and representative of Batten. As the Head GTA for our "Public Policy Challenges of the 21st Century" class, Maggie has kept all of us on track to offer a transformative learning experience to nearly 200 undergraduate students. She handled a vast array of new challenges we have not seen in decades of teaching, with grace and level-headedness, always grounded in ethical leadership and students' best interests. Maggie continually goes above and beyond typical responsibilities, such as with offering a multi-part workshop for the entire class on policy research and report writing. Her leadership was truly instrumental in developing the next generation of Batten-educated leaders. She is thoughtful, kind, empathetic, and willing to listen to the perspective of others. These are the very traits we hope to find in our nation’s and world’s policymakers, and we have been so lucky at Batten to have Maggie sharing her own personal example on daily basis in the halls of Garrett. We are all better for knowing her, and I can’t wait to see where her path may lead. Surely she must have been the type of student Frank Batten had in mind when he founded our school.  

Inclusive Advocacy Impact Award

Sebastian Singh

Sebastian has displayed exceptional leadership skills in advocating for the inclusion of those who are often out-of-sight and out-of-mind-- underrepresented populations in policy discussions and decision-making processes. He has been a vital research assistant in the Public Engagement in Governance Looking, Listening and Learning Laboratory (PEGLLLLab).Through this work, he helped to foster and facilitate the environment that ultimately led to the co-creation of policies, programs, and structures that assisted in the efforts in sites to co-produce public safety, public order, and community well-being. Sebastian is a bridge builder. Sebastian understands the importance of action and not just words. He has positioned himself to look, listen, learn, and grow – to appreciate the opportunity that he has had to serve all. Sebastian has intentionally and actively uplifted marginalized perspectives and voices in academic, professional, communal, and institutional settings in an effort to continually broaden his own perspective, and those of his fellow RAs and classmates. He cares in ways that would be unsettling and uncomfortable to many. He reflects the description of this award - he “has worked tirelessly to promote the voices and perspectives of marginalized communities” in meaningful and intentional ways. Like light, he pierces through the darkness and illuminates a path that others should follow. Similar to Mr. Batten, he is willing to do what might not be popular, but what is right. He has extended grace to all – starting where people and communities are, not where we may want them to be. He manifests this award.

Leadership Excellence Impact Award

Abigail Cornwell

Abby has been Head TA for Intro to Public Policy the past two semesters. She not only did an excellent job teaching and mentoring undergraduate students, but she also was an exemplary leader for her fellow TAs. We could always count on her calm, level-headed judgment and genuine desire to help others. The 80 students in her sections and 400+ students in the course have benefitted tremendously from her work. As one of her students noted, "Abby displayed a natural knack for the teaching profession and has a sort of intrinsic leadership that is rare and cannot be taught. Abby's talents for both public policy and leadership are extraordinary and she will excel wherever she lands after UVA." Another student shared this sentiment saying, “She is, unquestionably, the best TA I have ever had.” Abby is a strong and inspiring leader. As head of the Intro to Public Policy GTA team, she has demonstrated countless times the ability to make difficult decisions and prioritize the needs and growth of her students. She is willing to make big sacrifices herself to make sure the needs of her teaching team are met and they have the necessary level of support. She never holds her leadership authority over her team and empowers and inspires them to lead well. Watching from afar, I'm impressed with how Abby has left a lasting and powerful impact on both her students, the teaching team, and the broader community. I cannot wait to see what the future has in store for her.

Outreach & Service Impact Award 

Garreth Bartholomew

Garreth works hard to use his gifts in service to his community. He volunteers at several organizations, working to address food insecurity in the Charlottesville community, across the Commonwealth, and even on a national scale. He serves on several UVA committees, such as the Food Waste Reduction Working Group where he is currently one of its Co-Chairs. Garreth exemplifies servant leadership and inspires others to get involved in their local community. Garreth is well-deserving of the Outreach and Service Impact Award. . . in recognition of his remarkable contributions to public service within the Batten School and the broader UVA community. When I met Garreth, I was deeply impressed by his expertise in food and climate policy, encouraged by his positive, proactive, and solutions-oriented attitude, and inspired by his dedication to serving his community. Garreth gets things done – he turns ideas into action. One of Garreth's most notable contributions to public service has been his leadership and involvement in the UVA Sustainable Food Collaborative. He also oversees the regional food justice stakeholder meetings, working closely with partners like the Shenandoah Blue Ridge Hunger Action Coalition to recover and redirect food to address food insecurity. Additionally, Garreth co-founded the UVA Food Union and Food Assist club, where he led efforts to transport food waste to food kitchens in Charlottesville....Garreth embodies the values of integrity, empathy, and social responsibility. His exemplary contributions to public service, selfless spirit, and incredible work ethic, make him a deserving candidate for the Pilot's Outreach & Service Impact Award.

Transformative Impact Award 

Jenny Tran

Jenny has made such a broad impact here at Batten. She has been a TA for three semesters, an incredible research assistant, and has volunteered her time in so many other ways. Batten would not be the same without her and we are all lucky to feel her impact. I have never met someone as hardworking, dedicated, empathetic, motivating, or kind as Jenny Tran. Jenny takes on many roles at Batten as a graduate teaching assistant for Economics of Public Policy and former tutor, and she works alongside Professor Mahoney as a research assistant for two different projects. As an international student, she brings a diverse perspective to the program and touches lives here and in her home country of Vietnam. Jenny is always prepared, pleasant, and present in all that she does, despite what she has going on personally. She goes above and beyond what is required of her to support students, professors, and other Batten staff each day. Jenny has been a supporting mentor to all first-year MPPs. As the Economics Teaching Assistant, Jenny has shown the impressive ability to interpret questions, hear personal worries, and address academic weaknesses with patience and empathy. She is an incredible leader who inspires all of her students to do better and motivates them to focus on their progress, instead of their fears. She has a passion to share her education, knowledge, and insights and lives a life of service for the sake of others. Jenny is a public-focused leader who cares deeply about the success of others. To me, that's the fundamental requirement of a good leader. Jenny is the epitome of the Batten family and support we pride ourselves on. And, her aspirations surpass these walls and this University--as she has goals (and the ability) to have meaningful impact in economics and climate change, as a policy analyst, advocate, and teacher. Jenny is the prime example of leadership and passion. It is with the utmost regard that I put her name forward for this recognition. She once said to me "You are a star." but I think that is the perfect way to describe her, and any student or professor you speak with about her will agree!

Legace revised

Legacy Awards (Undergraduate Students)

Each year, the Batten Undergraduate Council invites students, faculty and staff to make nominations for its “Legacy Awards,”  given in five categories to honor graduating BA students who have, in their own way, demonstrated leadership at the Batten School. Each of these awards reflect the virtues and experiences that distinguished Frank Batten, Sr. throughout his inspirational life.

Congratulations to this year’s recipients! Below are excerpts from their nominations. 

Leader of Leaders Award

Ellie Stombres

Ellie's leadership style—both dignified and effective—embodies the ideals Mr. Batten envisioned for future leaders. She prioritizes public service and community betterment, making her an exemplary choice for this award. Her legacy at the Batten School sets a high standard for future leaders, making Ellie Strombes the ideal candidate for the Leader Among Leaders Award.

‘Fearless Frank’ Integrity Award

Makayla Bibby

Makayla’s courage to raise challenging and often controversial points in class discussions exemplifies her strong moral compass and her readiness to challenge conventional practices. Her ability to engage in these conversations is not just about raising points for the sake of it but stems from a deep-rooted commitment to fostering understanding and driving positive change within our community. What distinguishes Makayla further is her approach to these discussions. She navigates complex topics with kindness and respect, ensuring that her points are made in a manner that encourages dialogue rather than division.

Perseverance Award

Allison Alston

Allison's journey is a remarkable testament to resilience, dedication, and an unwavering spirit of perseverance in the face of daunting challenges. Her perseverance is not just about overcoming personal challenges; it's about pushing forward with a positive impact on those around her. Her active engagement in office hours and her relentless pursuit of academic excellence, despite personal and professional challenges, is truly inspiring. Her ability to face life's obstacles head-on, to overcome them, and to continue to excel academically and professionally embodies the spirit of the Perseverance Award. Allison has not only persevered; she has thrived, making her an exemplary candidate for this honor.

Liah Lawson

Liah has faced more challenges in her life than many of her classmates can even imagine. Liah continues to passionately pursue policy change in her interest areas which are very close to her heart, while balancing supporting herself and maintaining a ‘normal’ college life. She continues to show up and show out in class. Throughout it all Liah shows up constantly serving and supporting her community whether through advocating for the interests of Native American students at the University or simply helping friends--like me--when they may be struggling with a class concept.

Pioneer Award

Renee Bryan

Renee will absolutely make an impact in whatever field she chooses to pursue. She is always pursuing creative solutions to problems posed in and outside of the classroom. Every time she says something in class, I want to snap because she always has something so insightful to bring to the discussion. She is a great person I can tell will do great things in the future and leads in a way that I’m sure make the communities she is a part of better than she found them. Renee Bryan always is a bright light and ensures that she clears paths for those around her. She is one of a kind–and so inspiring.

Virginian-Pilot Intellectual Curiosity Award

Tristan How

Tristan is extremely curious about the world, and has expressed that in class, in discussions, and in daily informal conversations. Tristan’s love for learning has shown up in the ways he encourages me to share my experiences, even when I feel like they may not be heard or add to class discussions. His love for learning and his openness to listen to new perspectives showed me, personally, that the world is still a place for constructive dialogue. When he told our Lead from Anywhere class that his favorite thing to do is “learn,” I really believed him. Tristan, with a kind, curious, approachable disposition, quietly pushes his classmates to go deeper in their pursuit of learning, by listening to his classmates, affirming where they are coming from, and then proposing another point of view that, though contrary, doesn't seem far-fetched through his thoughtful and intellectual phrasing.



Garrett Hall at Sunset

Stay Up To Date with the Latest Batten News and Events