Bisrat Bayou was voted by students, staff and faculty as the winner of the 2019 Tommie Award.
Bayou, a senior majoring in neuroscience and minoring in public health, has been involved as a student leader at St. Thomas in a variety of ways, including serving as the Undergraduate Student Government president; as an orientation leader; a Student Diversity and Inclusion Services linkages mentor; and a member of the Black Empowerment Student Alliance, African Nations Student Association and Summit Singers student organizations.
Justin Amaker, a nominator for Bayou, wrote in a testimonial, “(Bisrat's) involvement on-campus sets the new standard for a true student leader on campus, and Bisrat’s impact to the St. Thomas community is noticed by so many others, inside and outside of the university. His work as our student body president, a position he held with humility and grace, doesn’t go unnoticed, and he truly represents exactly what a student body president of a university should be doing as one.”
Dr. Josh Hengemuhle, former supervisor and assistant dean of students, wrote the following: “Bisrat is a rare gift, bringing energy and passion to all that he does and every interaction he has; it is hard to walk away from a conversation with Bis without a smile on your face. The fact that Bisrat continues to have this impact on others in spite of what he has experienced and encountered during his time here is a testament to his strength and persistence."
Lidet Bayou, sister and fellow St Thomas student, shared her support for Bisrat's nomination as, "not only for his everlasting commitment to the school and its values, but also for his dedication to his discipline and studies. Throughout Bisrat’s years as a Tommie he has encountered the best and darkest times that have emerged on our campus and proceeded with great and dignified resilience. Time and time again, he has showed up and stood up to prove that our St. Thomas community accepts all and strives to hold each of its members to that standard."
Bisrat was chosen from a field of three finalists. The other two were Fatoumata Jaiteh and Amira Warren-Yearby.
With the exception of 1945 and 1946, the Tommie Award has been presented annually since 1931 to a St. Thomas senior. The award recognizes achievements in scholarship, leadership and campus involvement, and represents the highest ideals of the university. Past recipients can be viewed on the Tommie Award website.