LaPeer Receives 2021 Charles Paul Conn Award

Thursday, May 6, 2021 - by Eliza Souers, Lee University
Lee President Dr. Mark Walker, right, congratulates Desiree LaPeer with a fist bump during a chapel service where she was awarded the CPC Award
Lee President Dr. Mark Walker, right, congratulates Desiree LaPeer with a fist bump during a chapel service where she was awarded the CPC Award

Desiree LaPeer was named Lee University’s 2021 Charles Paul Conn Award recipient and was recognized for this achievement during Honors Chapel last month.

The CPC Award is given to a Lee senior who demonstrates the greatest promise of achievement in graduate or professional studies after graduating from Lee. Established in 1996, it is named after Lee’s 16th president. Each department may nominate one student for the award. From these nominees, a winner is selected by a faculty vote.

“Desiree demonstrates a researcher’s desire for knowledge building and a humanitarian’s ability to apply her discoveries to policy and program solutions,” said Dr. Ruthie Wienk, an assistant professor of sociology at Lee. “When Desiree encounters adversity, she uses it to strengthen and fuel her drive for greater excellence. She will undoubtedly be a star in graduate school, just as she has been here at Lee.”

While at Lee, Ms. LaPeer was a McNair Scholar, a member of Lambda Alpha (the national anthropology honor society), the social activities coordinator of the Anthropology Club, and a Travel Guide (teaching assistant) for the Global Perspectives Office. She also gave presentations at Lee’s McNair-Ledford Research Symposium twice and at the Appalachian College Association Virtual Summit.

Ms. LaPeer is also the head cheerleading coach for Champion Force Athletics and an AmeriCorps Service Member.

“My work has always been focused on how I can serve Appalachian communities through my research,” said Ms. LaPeer. “Knowing that the faculty came together and voted for me feels like confirmation that I’m doing the work I was meant to do. I am especially grateful for Dr. Wienk’s support and guidance along the way.”

Ms. LaPeer graduated in December with a Bachelor of Arts in anthropology. She was accepted into doctoral programs in gender studies in sociology at University of Kentucky, University of Louisville, and University of West Virginia. She plans to research the gender socialization of women in Central Appalachia, then use that research to provide women equal opportunities for their educational and career goals.

“Desiree is one of the most amazing students I have ever had in many years of teaching,” said Dr. Murl Dirksen, a professor of anthropology at Lee.

Ms. LaPeer plans to start her Doctor of Philosophy in sociology at the University of Kentucky, where she has received full tuition funding, health insurance, and a monthly stipend for five years.

Desiree LaPeer
Desiree LaPeer

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