Each year, Villa Maria College recognizes two members of its graduating class: one as the winner of the Blessed Mary Angela Student Award and the other as the winner of the Martin Wanamaker Spirit Award.
Named after the foundress of the Felician Sisters, the Blessed Mary Angela Student Award is given annually at Commencement to the most outstanding graduate of Villa Maria College. The award is selected by the President of the College and their Cabinet, based on nominations from faculty and staff. Recipients embody the mission and values of Villa Maria College, demonstrated through outstanding achievement in academics, leadership, and service to both the College and local community. The 2020 recipient of the Blessed Mary Angela Award is Nyles Moore.
In addition to being a star animation student, Nyles served as a Student Ambassador, working closely with the Offices of Admissions and Student Life to assist the College on various recruitment and service-related activities. Nyles also served as an Orientation Leader, this time working with the Office of Student Life to welcome new students and their families to campus, and to help them adjust to life at Villa Maria.
Nyles received a faculty nomination for the College’s Student Leadership Program, which was designed for help exceptional students develop their unique skills and learn how to leverage those skills in various settings. He completed the program with ease and immediately put his skills to the test at two professional internships. During his junior year internship at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Nyles gained first-hand experience in program planning, giving tours, assisting with classroom activities and building textiles for the visually impaired. Throughout his entire senior year, he interned with Squeaky Wheel Film and Media Art Center. There, he worked as a producer for their art show, in post-production, and with curators to assist in the planning and execution of events. He was also called on to teach workshops to high school students. He was also an active member of the Film Club and the Afro-Diaspora Student Union.
Finally, Nyles was an ambassador for Say Yes Buffalo. In his own words, Nyles served as a bridge between the Say Yes Buffalo organization and high school students enrolled in Buffalo Public Schools. He worked to help spread the word about Say Yes’ mission and offering to the local community.
Now a graduate of Villa Maria College, Nyles hopes to continue to use his art make a difference, make the world a better place, and to help other people respect themselves and respect others. He is currently collaborating with some of his peers to launch a not-for-profit organization to bring greater awareness to local art talent. Longterm, he would like to open his own animation studio and complete his book of poetry and illustration.
The Martin Wanamaker Spirit Award is given annually to a graduate who has distinguished themselves in promoting spirit on campus. The 2020 recipient of the Martin Wannamaker Spirit Award is Digital Filmmaking and Business Administration major Ashton Barrie.
Ashton has been a standout member of his class since he began studying at Villa Maria College. He was a founding member of the College’s film club, and went on to serve as the Club’s president. Under Ashton’s leadership the club launched Red Carpet Night, a student-run film festival that quickly became one of the student body’s favorite campus events. In addition, Ashton served the College as an Orientation Leader and Student Ambassador.
Outside of Villa, Ashton is employed as a Tech Consultant at Target. Eventually, he would like to write and direct for television and one day hopes to direct a feature film. Ashton’s hobbies include writing, watching films and watching The Office.
Ashton wanted to share the following message with the Villa community: “I just want to say how much I love Villa. I’ve never been more proud to be a part of a school as much as I am proud to be a Villa Viking and I will miss being on campus every day!”