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Alumni Council Announces 2023 Award Recipients

Mercersburg Academy’s Alumni Council has announced the 2023 award recipients, which are presented annually to members of the Mercersburg alumni community for their service, leadership, and distinction. This year's honorees are: Betsy Mitchell ’83, P ’15 (Alumni Council Medal for Distinguished Achievement), Richard Helzel ’68, P ’11, ’12 (Alumni Council Medal for Distinguished Service), Kevin Harris ’98 (Alumni Council Prize for Achievement), Dean Hosgood III ’98 (Alumni Council Prize for Service), and Mary Lancaster Grywatch ’08 (Young Alumni Leadership Award). It was previously announced that John Jones III ’73 will receive the Class of ’32 Award for Distinguished Alumni – the school’s highest honor. Read more.

The Alumni Council Medal for Distinguished Achievement was established in 1997 to recognize alumni who have distinguished themselves in their professional or personal lives and, in doing so, have brought honor to Mercersburg.

Betsy Mitchell ’83, P ’15 is the first full-time female director of the Department of Athletics, Physical Education, and Recreation at the California Institute of Technology as well as the first female athletic director at Allegheny College from 2005 to 2011. She graduated from University of Texas at Austin with her bachelor’s degree in education and master’s degree in education sports administration. She also received a certificate in educational administration, planning and social policy from Harvard University.

Mitchell is a seven-time individual National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) champion at the University of Texas. Named All-American and Academic All-American many times, she also earned the NCAA Most Valuable Swimmer Award, the NCAA Top Six Award, and the Hondo Broderick Award for Swimming. A three-time Olympic medalist in the pool, she won a gold medal as a member of the U.S. 400-meter medley relay team and a silver medal in the 100-meter backstroke at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, and added a silver medal with the 400-meter medley-relay team at the 1988 Summer Games in Seoul, South Korea. 

In between Olympic berths, Mitchell set the world record in the 200-meter backstroke at the 1986 World Championships. That record stood for five years, and it was also the American record for 22 years. After completing her swimming career, she represented the United States in the World Sculling Championships in 1994. She has been honored with several awards, including being named USA Swimmer of the Year in 1986. She was also a finalist for the Sullivan Award, which honors the top amateur athlete in the country, and was voted the U.S. Olympic Committee Sportswoman of the Year for swimming. In 1999, she was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame. She was named USA Swimming’s March 2010 Alumnus of the Month, and has been inducted into the University of Texas Hall of Honor.

Mitchell is the only Mercersburg athlete to win medals at multiple Olympic Games. Her first job was to return to Mercersburg as alumni secretary, coach, adviser and ninth-grade boys’ dorm parent on fifth-floor main. She currently serves as a member of the Board of Regents and is a previous member of the Daring to Lead Campaign Steering Committee. She has also been a Cum Laude Induction Speaker, served on the Alumni Association Athletic Committee, and in several other volunteer roles. She received the Mercersburg Academy Class of ’32 Distinguished Alumni Award (1984). 

Mitchell is a member of the Marshall and Irving Alliance, the 1893 Club, and is a Torchbearer with 39 years of consecutive giving. She is the honoree for the Betsy Mitchell ’83 Scholarship Fund. Her stepdaughter is Clare Laughery ’15. She lives in Pasadena, CA.

The Alumni Council Medal for Distinguished Service was established in 1957 to recognize alumni who have made outstanding contributions toward Mercersburg’s mission and continued excellence at the school, as reflected in its faculty, student body, facilities, and financial strength.

Richard Helzel ’68, P ’11, ’12 works in sales at Team Promotions, a supplier of imprinted promotional products in Cleveland, OH. He previously was the director of operations at Valleyfair Family Amusement Park in Lakeville, MN; vice president of operations for Cedar Point Amusement Park in Sandusky, OH; and was the owner of the marketing firm RH Factor. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English from West Virginia University and an MBA from the University of St. Thomas, Opus College. 

Helzel is a member of the Class of 1972 Reunion Committee and has also served Mercersburg Academy as a member of the Alumni Council, the Daring to Lead Campaign Host Committee, as a Class Agent, and in several other volunteer roles.

His sons are Barrett ’11 and Burke ’12. He is also a member of the William Mann Irvine Society and a Torchbearer with 13 consecutive years of giving. Helzel and his wife, Kippie, live in Essex, CT.  

The Alumni Council Prize for Achievement was established in 2016 to recognize alumni within 25 years after graduation who have distinguished themselves in their professional or personal lives and, in doing so, have brought honor to Mercersburg.

Kevin Harris ’98 is the deputy chairman for the Alexandria Democratic Committee and business owner for over 17 years of Hoop Life, Inc., a basketball service company that offers basketball camps, classes, teams, events, player skill development training, and after-school clubs in the District of Columbia, Virginia, and Maryland. He is also the head varsity boy’s basketball coach for John Lewis High School in Springfield, VA.

As a social justice leader, Harris works with several organizations in various leadership roles to ensure the protection and empowerment of marginalized communities. Those roles and organizations include commissioner for the Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority, strategy team member for Virginians Organized for Interfaith Community Engagement, founder of the Alexandria Minority Business Association, and cohort member of the Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership for Democracy and Social Change. His passion for social change led him to run for City Council in Alexandria, VA.

His faith in Christ is central to his foundation and personal guidance, and he believes that without God he could do nothing. Therefore, Harris serves as an elder in the ministry at the Love of Christ Church in Alexandria.

He received a bachelor’s degree in business from Alabama State University where he was the captain of the basketball team and was part of the first team in the history of the school to win the conference championship, conference tournament, and receive a National Collegiate Athletic Association tournament berth. He also played professional basketball for the Dakota Wizards in the Continental Basketball Association.

At Mercersburg Academy, Harris has served as a reunion weekend volunteer, academic volunteer, as the president of the African-American Student Union, and as captain of the basketball team. He is also a supporter of Mercersburg’s Annual Fund. 

Harris and his wife, Shawna, live with their daughters, Amor, Jewel, Gabriella, and Hannah-Rose in Alexandria.

The Alumni Council Prize for Service was established in 2016 to recognize alumni within 25 years after graduation who have made outstanding contributions toward Mercersburg’s mission and continued excellence at the school as is reflected in its faculty, student body, facilities, and financial strength.

Dean Hosgood III ’98 is an associate professor and the Atran Foundation Chair in Epidemiology and Population Health at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, where he is the co-leader of Cancer Epidemiology Prevention and Control and co-director, Ph.D. in Clinical Investigation. He is also the director of global environmental health. He has served as a molecular epidemiologist at the National Cancer Institute and as a researcher at the Yale School of Medicine. He has focused his career on identifying the underlying causes of inter-individual variations associated with cancer susceptibility.

Hosgood graduated from Carnegie Mellon University with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and from Yale University with a master’s degree in public health, environmental health sciences, and a doctoral degree in cancer epidemiology.

He helped establish the Female Lung Cancer Consortium in Asia (FLCCA) to define genetic loci through a genome-wide association study (GWAS) associated with lung cancer independent of smoking. He is also involved in the Asia Cohort Consortium and the International Lung Cancer Consortium.

He is a Mercersburg Regent and has previously served the school as a member of the Alumni Council and Daring to Lead Steering Committee and as a Class Agent. He is an 1893 Club member and a Torchbearer with 22 years of consecutive giving.

His siblings are Emily ’08, Ceara ’20, and Connor ’13. He and his wife, Sara, live with their children in Hamden, CT.

The Young Alumni Leadership Award was established in 2016 to recognize alumni within 15 years after graduation whose achievements have demonstrated excellence in their professions and service to their communities, the public, humanity, or Mercersburg, embodying the values, spirit, and pride of the school.

Mary Lancaster Grywatch ’08 is a senior associate with the law firm Hogan Lovells in Washington, D.C., where she advises clients on compliance with United States Food and Drug Administration, Department of Agriculture, and Federal Trade Commission regulations including current manufacturing practices, advertising practices, and food safety issues that arise throughout the entire supply chain for human and animal foods. Her practice also includes pro bono representations of military veterans and juvenile criminal offenders through partnership organizations including the National Veterans Legal Services Program and the Maryland American Civil Liberties Union. 

Grywatch attended Hamilton College, where she was captain of the field hockey team and a member of the National History Honor Society, before graduating with a doctoral degree in law from Columbia Law School. Throughout law school, she worked with several organizations providing legal assistance to domestic violence survivors.

As a volunteer for Mercersburg, Grywatch has chaired her Reunion Committee, served as a Daring to Lead Campaign volunteer, and was a member of the Baltimore/Washington Host Committee.  She is also a Torchbearer with four years of consecutive giving to the school and a 1893 Club donor. She and her husband, Trevor, live in Reston, VA.