Rebecca Gilliland ’23, a May 2023 graduate of William Paterson University with a bachelor of arts degree in psychology and minors in criminology and criminal justice and sociology, summa cum laude, was named the 2023 “Outstanding Senior” by the William Paterson University Alumni Association.
Presented annually since 1962, the “Outstanding Senior” award recognizes a graduating senior with strong involvement in extracurricular activities, service to the University and community, demonstrated leadership ability, and high academic standing. It is the highest honor bestowed by the Alumni Association. The award was announced at the Senior Send-Off Celebration on May 16, where Michele Garcia '15, president of the Alumni Association, recognized all of the nominees and announced the recipient.
Gilliland, of Livingston, New Jersey, was actively engaged with numerous campus organizations and projects during her four years at William Paterson. As a sophomore, she was one of six recipients of the 2021 Changebuilder Scholars Award through New Jersey Campus Compact for her outstanding involvement in civic engagement on campus. She volunteered with the University’s Pioneer Pantry, organizing a nonperishable food collection drive as well as packaging and distributing food orders to students.
In addition, she relaunched the University’s chapter of Her Campus, a women-focused online media hub that offers writing, networking, and an inclusive safe space/community for students. In addition to serving as president, Gilliland collaborated with other University clubs and organizations to develop a variety of events for students on campus.
Gilliland was a member of the campus chapter of Theta Phi Alpha sorority, in which she held a number of leadership roles including treasurer, National Panhellenic Council representative, and community service chairperson. She also served as recruitment chair, treasurer, and vice president of the National Panhellenic Conference on campus.
A member of the University’s Honors College, Gilliland completed the Social Sciences Honors Track, for which she wrote Becoming Becca: A Memoir, in which she examined the complexities of growing up with a chronically ill parent. She was a peer leader for the Honors College, serving as a co-facilitator for sections of Will. Power. 101, the University’s program of academic and student support services for new students. She was an officer for the Honors Club, helping to organize numerous events. She also served as a student ambassador for the Center for Diversity and Inclusion and a notetaker for the Accessibility Resource Center.
Gilliland, who received the Dean’s Award from the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, was inducted into Alpha Alpha Alpha, the honor society for first-generation college students; Psi Chi International Honor Society in Psychology; Order of Omega Greek Honor Society; the National Society of Success and Leadership; and the WP LEADS Honor Society, which recognizes student involvement. In 2022, she received the Scholar Leader Award, presented by the WP Student Government Association for leadership, involvement in activities, service to the campus and community, and high academic achievement.
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