TAKOMA PARK, Md. (Apr. 30) – Academic Awards chapel, usually reserved for standout students at Washington Adventist University (WAU), departed from the norm this year to recognize two faculty members—Bruce Wilson, associate director of music, and Deria Gadsen, assistant registrar—whose distinguished service to the institution will end this year. Professor Zdravko Plantak, who is also stepping down as chair of the religion department, was also honored for his contributions to the university.
The event, which was held April 24 in Sligo Seventh-Day Adventist Church, recognized all students with grade point average of 3.0 and above. Students also received special departmental honors.
Ralph Johnson, Ph.D., dean for students success and faculty development, and Fitzroy Thomas, assistant dean, presented certificates of recognition to junior education major Rebekah Brauner, who had the highest GPA; freshman English major Constance Greene; Senior English major Melinda Hamerly; senior education major Gabrielle Morrison; junior biology major Christine Rosette; and senior physical education major, Erin Wright.
From the English Department, junior English major Ashley Butler received the Joseph Shin Award, and senior English major Konstantin Kulakov, the Edith O. Stone Award. The History and Political Studies department recognized Senior Courtney Taylor, and the Psychology Department recognized juniors Mariah Crews, Adam Buttrick, Melissa Boyd, and Veronica Rojas and sophomore Beatrice Portillo.
The Music Department recognized several students, including: Performer of the Year, senior Jonathan Keplinger, and Senior of the Year, David Byass. Additional scholarships and recognition were given to seniors Emelie Pla, Atecia Edwards, Lauren Simms and Aaron Tucker; freshman Jidong Zhong, and sophomore Sonali Singh.
The Department of Religion recognized several students, including student of the year, seniors Robert Machado, and Dudley Francois, who received the department’s leadership award; seniors Cedric Parker, Ramone Griffith and Brandon White, who received the service award, and Konstantin Kulakov, who was named Philosopher of Year.
Finally, the Social Work department named Nearlyne Noisette their outstanding senior, Alexandra Coleman as outstanding junior, while junior Nikole Donovan and senior Sarai Wright received a certificate of merit for academic achievement and certificate of commendation respectively.
Pastor Damien E. Johnson is a native of Washington, D.C. His roots in the church being in the historic First Seventh-day Adveentist Church in Washington where he was baptized and later sense the call to ministry.
Pastor Johnson graduated from Columbia Union College (presently Washington Adventist University) in Takoma Park, Maryland with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theology. He received his Master of Divinity degree from the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan.
Pastor Johnson has served as an associate pastor at the Community Praise Center in Alexandria, Virginia. He later served as the Senior Pastor of the Pennsylvania Avenue SDA Church in Capitol Heights, MD. He is currently the Senior Pastor of the Seabrook SDA Church in Lanham, MD.
Pastor Johnson is married to the former Charmaine Donaldson who also grew up in the Washington Metropolitan area. They have three wonderful sons, Andre', Aaron, and Aidan.
Pastor Johnson counts it a privilege to serve the Lord in the Gospel ministry. He has preched and conducted workshops nationally and internationally. His aim in preaching is to convey, in the clearest terms, the Good News of God's relentless love for all of humanity and the hope that is found in Christ Jesus.
“We need a new ethic and a prophetic vision and commitment to the well being of the world and its people that will radically alter things and dispositions at the most fundamental level. We need a new ethic that will be committed to justice and equity in the world. A new ethic that will alter the prevailing national and government narrative that says that priority#1 on most of these matters is “what is the national interest of America? Of the UK? Of Canada or Brazil? The narrative must shift from “national interest” to what is just and what would be in support of the global good.”
Department of Religion is going to the very same place that we went to in October 2012, namely Food and Friends for AIDS/HIV victims in Washington DC. Join the Department of Religion and remember that we serve not for a day but throughout our Christian lives.
Sign-up sheet is on the glass doors of the Religion Departments suite and we DO NOT START our project in the morning but exactly at 12:00 - meeting in the Department of Religion and having a devotional and a prayer before we go out to serve FOOD AND FRIENDS community.
Thanks for coming and making a difference as a community of students of theology and religion!!!
Dr. Zdravko Plantak, Chair
H.M.S. Richards Hall, Rm 102E