SU's Wash Named MCHC's 2023 Outstanding Maryland Honors Student
SALISBURY, MD---The Maryland Collegiate Honors Council (MCHC) recently named Salisbury University junior Elizabeth Wash as the 2023 recipient of its John & Edythe Portz Award for Outstanding Four-Year Maryland Honors Student.
For Wash, a biological sciences major from Waldorf, MD, being a member of the Glenda Chatham and Robert G. Clarke Honors College is what brought her to SU and has kept her succeeding beyond her expectations.
“I unexpectedly had to get a hearing aid three days before leaving for college my freshman year, and that, coupled with the isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic and unusual academic experiences, truly left me not knowing if I was going to go ahead with my college timeline as planned,” she said. “The support I received immediately from SU, especially those in the Honors College, made me feel welcomed and that I could tackle anything that came my way.
“They assured me they would be with me every step of the way, and they have kept true to that promise. Through additional diagnosis, medical visits, managing coursework and a fulfilling student life outside of academics, the Honors College faculty, staff and students have become my home away from home.”
The award was presented at the MCHC’s annual conference, where Wash gave the event’s closing presentation, titled “Finding Your Voice,” detailing her experience as an honors student with disabilities.
“It was incredibly surreal to be nominated, especially as the only student representing SU, but to win and be able to represent students with disabilities across the state was meaningful in so many ways.” she said. “You never feel like what you are doing in your day-to-day life is extraordinary or any different from anyone around you and what you are supposed to do. So it’s very validating to have your experiences selected as representing what embodies a collegiate honors student and it lets you know you’re on the right path.”
Wash’s emersion into college life does not stop with the Honors College. In addition to her roles as editor of the honors college publication The Saunterer and as an honors student lecturer and ambassador, she is president of the Delta Alpha Pi honor society, the Student Government Association’s director of campus enhancement, a student worker in the Disability Resource Center, a 2023 Presidential Citizen Scholar, a member of the Vice President of Student Affairs Board for Diversity and Inclusion, and editor-in-chief of SU’s Laridae undergraduate research journal.
“This is a major award and well-deserved for Elizabeth, a student who is driven by research excellence and service to her university and the City of Salisbury,” said Lauren Hill, professor and assistant dean of the Clarke Honors College. “We are so proud of her.”
The MCHC conference presentation and award allowed Wash to tell her story to others across Maryland and connect with many others who were inspired and could relate.
“I want everyone to know that people with disabilities belong in honors programs and to never doubt someone else’s or your own intelligence or ability,” she said. “If even for a moment I could be a beacon for others and let my winning the award be a pivotal point to all the other schools attending so they could see firsthand that disability matters and belongs in high-ranking academics as much as any other identity, then all the hurdles and dedication has been so worth it.”
Learn more about SU and opportunities to Make Tomorrow Yours at the SU website.