Sweet Synergy, the title of the opening convocation last Wednesday, marked the start of the school year. In it, Rebecca Stoltzfus, president of Goshen College, reflected on those words and unveiled the winners of the annual Global Citizen awards recognizing three GC seniors.

“Synergy is sweet,” President Stoltzfus remarked in her opening speech. “And synergy is all around us — in flavors, in music, on teams, in relationships and business and biology.”

President Stoltzfus highlighted synergistic relationships found in the College Kindergarten Lab, a curious condiment and GC alumni who created synergy in their workplaces. GC alum Orie J. Eigsti ‘31 was featured with his development of the first seedless watermelons in Japan.

For the Global Citizen awards that followed, Jakyra Green was

awarded a $10,000 scholarship, with Bongiwe Ncube and Caleb Shenk as runners-up, each receiving a $5,000 scholarship.

The scholarship is open to students going into their fourth year of study who embody the college’s five core values. The students are nominated by a department and then complete an essay to apply. The Global Citizenship Awards were made possible by Shashi Buluswar, a GC alum and international student from India who helped to create the program in 2022.

“It was a fun process,” Green said, “because I got to reflect on not only my Goshen College journey, but also the moments that led me to getting the award and where I am today.

“I’m so passionate about education,” she continued. “Being a positive role model for all students and especially students of color made that one come easy.”

Ncube spoke about some of the challenges of writing. “I had to be truthful with myself,” Ncube stated. “[I thought about] what I had been striving to do in my college education and what I haven’t done so well … it was a time of truthful reflection and being frank with myself … In the end, it was rewarding to write the essay because it was an opportune time to appreciate the mountains and the valleys of my college journey.”

For Shenk, the timing made it difficult: “I was in Ecuador on [Study-Service Term] when I got the [nomination] email,” Shenk remarked. “Getting the email was very exciting,” but Shenk had to find time to write his essay. One of his focuses in his essay was portraying his gratitude for GC’s ability to capture multiple values at once.

For the students receiving the awards, it came as a surprise. “In May I got word that I was nominated,” Green said, “and I was even more shocked when I received the first place award.”

Green, Ncube and Shenk had to keep the secret through the end of the summer, while anticipation for the opening convocation grew.

“It was very fun,” Shenk said. “I told my family, but didn’t tell some of my friends until the day of the announcement, and I didn’t know who the other winners were, so I was really excited to see who they were.”

Following the singing of the Alma Mater and the final words of the opening convocation came the annual applause tunnel, going from faculty, staff and seniors to freshmen. Freshman Lucca Kauffman said of the tunnel, “It was overwhelming and awkward, but overall good.”

Waiting at the end of it was seedless watermelon.

Griffin Eash, a freshman, said that he “didn’t realize that seedless watermelon had a Goshen connection.”

For freshman Ben Koop, it was very welcoming: “It was cool that everyone just knew to form the applause tunnel. It was also fun to get to eat the watermelon that Becky had just talked about.”