Six faculty members honored for ‘transformational’ classroom instruction

Article and photo courtesy of YaleNews.

Students who nominated the six Yale faculty members awarded this year’s Yale College teaching prizes on May 5 used many different adjectives to praise their instructors. But there was one overarching theme in their comments: All of the prizewinners were credited with being “transformational” in their students’ lives — in the classroom and beyond.

The prize-winning teachers are Stephanie Newell, who won the Sidonie Miskimin Clauss Prize for teaching excellence in the humanities; Marla Geha, who was presented the Dylan Hixon ’88 Prize for teaching excellence in the natural sciences; Woo-kyoung Ahn, who won the Lex Hixon ’63 Prize for teaching excellence in the social sciences; Karin Roffman and Quan Tran, who were both awarded the Richard H. Brodhead ’68 Prize for teaching excellence by non-ladder faculty; and Kenneth Winkler, who was honored with the Harwood F. Byrnes/Richard B. Sewall Teaching Prize, given to a faculty member who “over a long period of service has inspired a great number of students and consistently fostered the learning process both inside and outside the classroom.” (continued)

Click here to read the full article about WSP board member, Marla Geha.

The program offers veterans expanded support throughout their graduate school education and beyond

WASHINGTON, D.C. — FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — National nonprofit Warrior-Scholar Project (WSP) is excited to welcome 16 military veterans to its inaugural cohort of Diana Davis Spencer Scholars. Thanks to an investment by the Diana Davis Spencer Foundation, the program provides support and mentorship opportunities to WSP alumni as they continue on their higher education journeys throughout graduate and professional schools, including law and medical schools in addition to masters and Ph.D. programs. 

Earning a bachelor’s degree and gaining acceptance into graduate school is an exciting new chapter for military veterans, but it can also be an overwhelming process to navigate. Diana Davis Spencer Scholars receive expanded support as they embark on this new endeavor, including a step-by-step roadmap to graduate school admission and success. Additionally, scholars work with designated mentors to receive one-on-one support based on their unique needs and establish a set of goals and academic pathways. Scholars also have access to mentoring sessions; receive guidance when applying for funding, fellowships, and internships; and have career shadowing opportunities. 

“The Diana Davis Spencer Foundation has been a transformative WSP supporter for many years. We are deeply grateful for this most recent investment, which allows us to stand up bespoke graduate school supports for talented student veterans. We need many more enlisted veterans in top graduate school programs in all disciplines throughout the country. This inaugural cohort is just the beginning,” said Ryan Pavel, CEO of WSP. 

The Inaugural Diana Davis Spencer Scholars Are: 

  • Conor Abbamonte, Navy, Columbia University alum 
  • Gerson Anton-Juarez, Army, Syracuse University alum
  • Derek Auguste, Army, University of Miami alum
  • Jonathan Banasihan, Navy, American University alum
  • Marcus Bartolome, Marine Corps, senior at Columbia University
  • Angelo Digirolamo, Navy, senior at Columbia University 
  • Lisa Elijah, Air Force, University of Oklahoma alum
  • Harry Foster, Marine Corps, junior at Columbia University 
  • Manny Johnson, Marine Corps, Liberty University alum 
  • DeLia Kennedy, Navy, senior at Hampton University 
  • Oren Morgan, Army, junior at University of California-Los Angeles
  • Andrew Nguyen, Army, senior at Yale University 
  • Daniel Reyes, Navy, senior at Vassar College
  • Moira Ryan, Army, senior at Rivier College
  • Tracy Santos, Marine Corps, junior at University of Rhode Island 
  • Patrick Trujillo, Marine Corps, San Diego State University alum

Read their full bios here

WSP launched its first program at Yale University in 2012 with nine participants. Since then, the program has expanded to 21 of America’s top schools and has helped more than 1,700 veterans through academic boot camps and workshops. The introductory academic experience has a lasting impact: 90% of WSP alumni have already completed or are on track to complete their undergraduate degrees, an increase of 18% over the national veteran average. 

About Warrior-Scholar Project

Warrior-Scholar Project (WSP) empowers enlisted veterans and service members to excel at four-year universities. Through intensive and immersive one- to two-week academic boot camps, participants gain skills required for success and support for the cultural shift from the military to higher education at top-tier schools. Throughout WSP’s free resident education programs, students are traditionally housed on campus, and engage in challenging discussions with accomplished professors, receiving tailored instruction on key skills like analytical reading and college-level writing. Warrior-Scholar Project is a national nonprofit with programs at public and private colleges and universities across the country. For more information, visit

About the Diana Davis Spencer Foundation 

The Diana Davis Spencer Foundation espouses the values upon which our nation was founded: freedom and individual responsibility. The mission of the foundation is to promote national security, entrepreneurship, self-reliance, free enterprise, and to enhance quality of life by supporting the arts, education, global understanding, health advancements, and preservation of the environment.

Nearly 2,000 lives of enlisted military veterans changed — that’s the impact national nonprofit Warrior-Scholar Project (WSP) has achieved since its inception in 2012. Founded with the vision to ensure that every degree-seeking enlisted veteran succeeds in their pursuit of higher education and beyond, WSP is thriving in that mission 10 years later. The 10th anniversary celebration raised nearly $700,000 that will go towards helping veterans as they transition from the military to college. 

The evening featured a tribute to longtime WSP supporter and board member Arne Sorenson, the late CEO of Marriott International. Attendees also got to hear from keynote speaker David Rubenstein in addition to hearing firsthand from many successful student veterans about the WSP experience and its impact. 

While seating was limited at the event venue, those who could not attend in person watched online, which allowed many alumni, parents of alumni, academic partners and professors, stakeholders from host institutions, foundation and corporate sponsors, and other supporters from all around the country to stream live. 

Ryan Pavel, WSP’s CEO, shared how far the organization has come and expressed excitement for the future. “Ten years ago, WSP was just an idea by a few college students at Yale. They came together and recognized the need for enlisted service members to get this type of preparatory program on their way to college. They started with a group of nine students, and today we’ve served almost 2,000. We started with one campus partner, and now we have 24 throughout the country. 

WSP is all about equipping service members and veterans on the enlisted side to excel in higher education and beyond. We’ve been doing it for 10 years and have a tremendous amount of growth to do in the coming years. We really hope that you’ll join us in that journey and find a way to plug into our community.” 

Warrior-Scholar Project’s Legacy 

The evening kicked off with remarks from WSP Chairman Mark London, who shared compelling excerpts from interviews he conducted with program alumni as part of an ongoing project to share their stories with the nation. His remarks concluded with a short video highlighting WSP alumni and their accomplishments.

Harry Foster, a Marine Corps veteran who attended WSP’s 2019 academic boot camp at Columbia University, where he is now a student, shared, “I didn’t take school seriously, I thought it was a joke. WSP helped me manage how to balance out my class schedule better, how to manage my time better, how to study better. My very first semester after WSP, I got straight A’s. I told my dad to put it on the refrigerator, I thought it was pretty cool.”

Air Force veteran Timothy Bang, who attended WSP’s 2021 academic boot camp at the University of Chicago, shared, “Transitions are hard. When veterans make the initial transition from civilians to military, we all went through boot camp together — it wasn’t an individual feat. And so when making that transition from veterans to a student, that first step being with fellow student veterans really helps set you up for success.” 

More than 30 veterans were featured, and they overwhelmingly said that WSP is empowering, transformative, and life-changing, and that the program gave them the confidence to succeed in the next chapter of their lives while offering a support system during the transition. 

Honoring Arne Sorenson 

The fundraising event was in tribute to one of WSP’s most stalwart supporters, the late Arne Sorenson, CEO of Marriott International and WSP board member. Arne taught one of WSP’s humanities courses every summer until his passing in 2021. Pavel said Sorenson was servant leadership personified, “We didn’t have to ask him to schedule that time on his calendar — he would reach out to us every single summer.” 

Arne’s legacy lives on through WSP’s Arne Sorenson Seminar Series, an opportunity for business leaders and military government officials to lead discussions on materials the way Arne did, with a focus on humanities curriculum and the foundations of democracy, its evolution, and the importance of its preservation. 

“We’re hoping that other men and women will appreciate what it is that WSP is doing in the way Arne did and come into the classroom with the same enthusiasm and humility,” said Mark London, WSP’s chairman of the board and longtime friend of Sorenson.

Q&A With David Rubenstein 

The event concluded with a keynote address by David Rubenstein, businessman and co-founder of the private equity firm The Carlyle Group. Following his speech, Rubenstein sat down with WSP alumni Jessica Nelson, a Marine Corps veteran, and Michael Bollinger, an Army veteran. Nelson and Bollinger spoke about their experiences in the military and why they decided to pursue higher education upon separating from the service. 

Bollinger, a Purple Heart recipient, served as an Army Ranger and deployed to Afghanistan and Syria. Today he is majoring in computer science at Columbia University with plans to become a software engineer upon graduation. Bollinger designed WSP’s Python Primer course, which was introduced to the program’s STEM curriculum in 2021. 

Nelson served as a Geospatial Analyst and graduated from Smith College in 2019 where she majored in psychology and community engagement. She is currently attending law school at the University of Michigan and is the first WSP alumnus to sit on the organization’s board of directors. Nelson ended the Q&A session by noting that “Warrior-Scholar Project is the best decision I ever made.” 

Warrior-Scholar Project is proud to help enlisted veterans achieve success in higher education and beyond, but we couldn’t do it without the generous support of our donors and supporters. Make a difference in veterans’ lives and donate to our mission today or discover other ways to help us continue to serve veterans.

Amherst College was founded in 1821 and is one of the top liberal arts colleges in the country. Its campus encompasses 1,000 acres of land with approximately 1,700 students in attendance. Amherst’s motto is “Let them give light to the world.” WSP has partnered with Amherst College since 2017.

Location: Amherst, MA

Mascot: Mammoth

School Colors: White and Purple 


Veterans Education Benefits 

US Service Member/Veteran Travel Grant

Apply now to attend WSP at Amherst

Pomona College was founded in 1887 with the intention of creating a college that was a “New England type,” according to the school’s website. Pomona hosts about 1,700 students with a student-to-faculty ratio of 8:1. The college offers many opportunities for studying abroad with about 50% of the student body studying in over 36 countries. WSP has partnered with Pomona since 2021, hosting one of two all-women’s cohorts that year.

Location: Claremont, CA

Mascot: Cecil the Sagehen

School Colors: Blue and Gold


Veterans Education Benefits

Yellow Ribbon Request

Apply now to attend WSP at Pomona

Williams College was originally established as a men’s college in 1793 and is home to less than 3,000 students. With more than 150 clubs and 32 varsity sports teams (known as “Ephs”) on campus, there is something for every student at Williams. WSP has partnered with Williams College since 2020.

Location: Williamstown, MA

Mascot: Purple Cow

School Colors: Purple and Gold


Veterans Application

Veterans Resources Financial Aid

Yellow Ribbon Program

Apply now to attend WSP at Williams