What is the Williamson Medal?

  • Leilani Ly, of Honolulu, Hawai’i, is this year’s recipient of the Williamson Medal, the College’s most prestigious award for student achievement.

Awarded on the basis of a vote by the faculty, the Williamson Medal is the highest student award presented each year at the Commencement ceremonies.  The citation award reads:  "To the member of the graduating class who has, during his or her College career, reached the highest standing in character, leadership, and scholarship."  The award, endowed by Owen Moon, Jr., in memory of former trustee Henry S. Williamson, has been presented annually since 1922.

2021 Recipient Citation

The Williamson Medal is the highest student award presented each year at Franklin & Marshall’s Commencement. It is given to the member of the graduating class who has, during his or her senior year, reached the highest standing in character, leadership and scholarship. The medal was endowed by Owen Moon Jr., in memory of former trustee Henry S. Williamson, and it has been presented annually since 1922. This year, it is awarded to Leilani Tomiko Ly.

Leilani came to the College from Honolulu, Hawai’i. She graduates summa cum laude with a major in sociology, concentrating in racial and socioeconomic inequality.

Leilani has tackled complex issues in her academic research. Last year, she completed a research paper investigating the informal economy in Kenya’s largest refugee camp and its role in providing dignity to refugees who had been stripped of their legal status. Her recently presented honors thesis is titled, “Cultural Capital Acquisition Among First-Generation College Students.” In it, she researches how those students acquire the necessary skills, knowledge, and behaviors to navigate the implicit rules and expectations of higher education.

Among her many campus leadership roles, Leilani has been a tutor in the Writing Center since 2018; a board member of the Alice Drum Women’s Center for the last three years; and a member of the Asian American Alliance, where she served as vice president for two years. She has mentored local high-school and middle-school students as part of F&M’s Squash ACES program throughout her College career.

Leilani also has earned several academic honors and awards at Franklin & Marshall, including the William M. Kephart Prize in Sociology. She is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and the Black Pyramid Senior Honor Society.

Franklin & Marshall faculty frequently selected Leilani for roles in which she assisted or helped to teach her classmates, from her three years as a Writing Center tutor to being a preceptor in the Islam in North America course to serving as teaching assistant in sociology and writing seminars. One professor wrote, “Leilani’s academic work is on a level of sophistication that equals that of many graduate students; her writing is stellar and always a joy to read. Her mastery of the academic literature on her research topics, combined with her observational skills in field research, have put her in a class apart from her peers.”

After graduation, Leilani plans to work in a position that combines journalism and the legal field. She is considering pursuing both a master’s degree in journalism and a law degree. She ultimately hopes to use her writing skills to amplify the stories of misunderstood and underrepresented groups often overlooked in the mainstream media.

Leilani, your thought-provoking academic research, your excellent record of scholarship, and your dedication and service to your fellow students and the Franklin & Marshall community personify the College’s ideal of developing graduates of intellect, character and leadership. You represent not only the power of a liberal arts education, but all that makes Franklin & Marshall College such a special place. Congratulations!

Williamson Medal  Recipients 

2021 Leilani Tomiko Ly

2020 Anastasiia Grigoreva

2019 Yousra Chaabane

2018 Caroline V. Lawrence

2017 Tekla Iashagashvili

2016 Morgan Anna Kincade

2015 Rachel G. Codkind

2014  Michael C. Haines

2013  Alexis Rae Teevens

2012  Judith Stapleton

2011  Chelsea D. Schein

2010  Erik Michael Kelly

2009  Aditi Malik

2008  Laura Beth Michaels

2007  Peter "Pierre" Ofori Ankomah

2006  Stacey Michelle Blanck

2005  Dunuwille Eranda Jayawickreme

2004  Ellen Katherine Baier

2003  Nathan Michael McGovern

2002  Lara Ann Margolis

2001  Amanda J. Rader

2000  Hayley C. Rintel

1999  Nadia Chaudhri

1998  Katherine Anne Hennessey

1997  Aaron M. Griffith

1996  Amil Dasgupta

1995  Donnell Butler

1994  Tricia Joy Vos

1993  Melissa L. Hawkins

1992  Steven P. Scalet

1991  Christopher J. Morabito

1990  Matthew Hieu Tran Bui

1989  Michael J. Lengle

1988  Elizabeth A. Eide




1987  Robert B. Belser, Jr. 

1986  Gary S. Fischer

1985  Joseph Daniel Capristo

1984  Evan S. Siegelman

1983  Vanessa Christman

1982  Sara Adams

1981  Eric S. Holmboe

1980  Charles William Omsby

1979  Mark A. Monborne

1978  Jennifer Whiting

1977  Loretta Ann Angell

1976  Deborah E. Cohn

1975  Brian Flaherty

1974  Marc Golden

1973  Judith M. White

1972  Gregg J. Weir

1971  Frederick Goldberg

1970  Charles Henry Woernle

1969  Michael Scheininger

1968  Leslie Lenkowsky

1967  Philip Jeffrey Hay

1966  Harold C. Mathews

1965  David Featherman

1964  Robert Tobin Lasky

1963  Robert J. Kafin

1962  John E. Hambright

1961  John Ward Moore

1960  Charles Deans Crystle

1959  Roger Edwin Bolton

1958  Charles Franklin Smith

1957  Stanley John Dudrick

1956  George John Morgan

1955  Thomas Edward Headrick


1954  John Geist and Phil Long

1953  Richard Nelson Clewell

1952  Karl Guy Klinges

1951  William Harry Rader

1950  John Russell Hughes

1949  Carl Hess Brubaker, Jr.

1948  Emmett Carl Boyle, Jr.

1947  Francis Ellsworth Ringer

1946  Bruce Peale Ryder

1945  Roger Jacob Steiner

1944  Nathaniel Ellmaker Hager, Jr.

1943  Joseph Michael Doughty

1942  Emory Coblentz Swank

1941  Richard Predmore Vaughan

1940  Charles Henry Lecrone, Jr.

1939  Edgar Smith Rose, Jr.

1938  Kenneth Ingvard Greisen

1937  Fred Girvin Hocking

1936  Joseph Nunzio Cascio

1935  John Neal Bethune

1934  John Nevin Schaeffer, Jr.

1933  William Gibney Diffenderfer

1932  John Gorman Walsh

1931  Willliam Gordon Landreth

1930  Elias Hiester Phillips

1929  Charles Russel Zweizig

1928  James Ziegler Appel

1927  Harold Jay Budd

1926  Paul Augustus Kunkel, Jr.

1925  John Calvin Truxal

1924  Robert Cummings Zecher

1923  John Light Atlee, Jr.

1922  Harold Adams