A collage of Pepper Prize nominee portraits.

We asked the 2024 George Wharton Pepper Prize nominees to reflect on their time at Lafayette and share the memories or experiences that made the College feel like home to them. Here are their stories.

Remy Oktay ’24

A photo of Remy Oktay with a Pepper Prize Winner 2024 Badge.

“For the 2022 Rivalry football game electric plane flyover, I flew the plane from its base in Connecticut to Pennsylvania, stopping at airports along the way to recharge. We were a large crew with many vehicles doing something that would be a first at each airport, so I wanted to call ahead to confirm this would work. All the airport managers gave me the green light except for the one international airport on our route, which required all air crews to have badges. Since Lafayette has an ID office, I figured it was worth asking if they could print us aviation-themed badges, and without hesitation they jumped in, proofed several designs, and produced badges with unique call signs for every crew member that allowed us to move freely around the airport. This immediate support and willingness to rally behind our goal was one of many experiences that’s made Lafayette feel like home.” Remy Oktay ’24  (engineering studies, environmental studies, minor in data science) 2024 George Wharton Pepper Prize winner

More Information

  • The George Wharton Pepper Prize, awarded annually to the senior “who most nearly represents the Lafayette ideal,” was established in 1923 by George Wharton Pepper H’22, a United States senator from Pennsylvania, an attorney, and a founding member of the Pennsylvania Bar Association.


Natalie Beckford ’24

A portrait of Pepper Prize nominee, Natalie Beckford.

“Lafayette truly became home to me through the warmth and welcoming nature of its people. While the campus itself is undeniably beautiful and comforting, it was the genuine connections I formed with others that made it feel like a place where I belonged. When I was an underclassman, meeting upperclassmen from NIA Sisterhood, Association of Black Collegians, and Brothers of Lafayette left a lasting impact. The sense of community that they showed me made me feel like I had found a family away from home.” Natalie Beckford ’24 (international affairs, religion and politics, minor in French)


Azalea Danes ’24

A portrait of Pepper Prize nominee, Azalea Danes.

“Home, to me, is about community. Finding community among friends, fellow organizers, as a mentor writing associate, and with professors who have pushed me to excel make Lafayette feel like home. On Friday evenings, I meet with organizers to read and discuss the theory we believe will help us transform our world for the better. As a writing associate, I’ve found a home among the community of students passionate about learning pedagogy and supporting students in their transition to academic writing. In the Oechsle Center for Global Education, I’ve had countless advising meetings that leave me feeling joyful at the opportunity to challenge myself to think bigger, and grow as a student.” Azalea Danes ’24 (international affairs, Latin American and Caribbean studies)


Tyler Osipower ’24

A portrait of Tyler Osipower.

“I was familiar with Lafayette from a young age. When I was younger, my parents (Bob and Kristin Osipower ’00) used to bring us to visit campus. I came to share their passion for the College, especially over the course of my four years. This is my home, just as it was theirs. While I’ve always had that tie to Lafayette, I was able to make the College my own. I had an entirely different experience from the rest of my family. One that sticks out was Homecoming Week during my sophomore year. I remember going to the game with my friends and spending time with the alumni. It was the first time I really felt a sense of community at Lafayette.” Tyler Osipower ’24 (mechanical engineering, minor in government and law)


Maksym Turkot ’24

A portrait of Pepper Prize nominee, Max Turkot.

“The moment Lafayette truly felt like home was when I lost access to my home in Ukraine. This is when I fully appreciated the support from the Lafayette community. Relationships with professors and friends became so much more meaningful, and even the small things, like a trivia night in Rockwell, were so important. Without this support, it would have been much harder for me. Lafayette is my home. It always will be.” Maksym Turkot ’24 (computer science, minor in physics)


Courtenay Lampert ’24

A portrait of Pepper Prize nominee, Courtenay Lampert.

“Being a small campus, you run into similar faces every day. Knowing the first name of almost everyone I pass on my walks to class, sitting at the tables around me in Upper Farinon dining hall, or studying in Skillman Library’s study room next to me, makes me feel incredibly connected to the Lafayette community. I grew up in a small town, went to a small school, and then attended a college hours from that support system at home, so it’s comforting to attend a college with a similar culture. I truly found a sense of belonging here at Lafayette, and I’m incredibly grateful to have called it home these past few years.” Courtenay Lampert ’24 (biology) 


Emma Chen ’24

A portrait of Pepper Prize nominee, Emma Chen.

“When I think of ‘home’ at Lafayette, I think of the Pre-Orientation Service Program (POSP). Starting as a first-year and ending as an executive director, I have never felt more like I belonged, like I was truly valued, and like I was surrounded by the kindest individuals than I did during the weeks of POSP. The community care and the devotion to inclusion radiate out of every single individual involved in the program; it is no wonder why we all end up so close with each other long after the week has ended. Many of my closest friends have come from this program, and being with them, engaging with my community, is what feels like home to me. I feel so lucky to have found such an incredible family within POSP.” Emma Chen ’24 (anthropology and sociology, government and law)


Madaleine Perry ’24

A portrait of Pepper Prize nominee, Madaleine Perry.

“For my application to Lafayette College, I wrote my ‘Why Lafayette’ essay about dogs, after I visited and learned about how much of the faculty and staff bring their pups to campus. When I arrived on campus for the spring 2021 semester, I knew my goal was to live in the Lafayette College Dog House as soon as possible. Luckily for me, I was accepted into the program and lived in 631 Monroe for my sophomore year. On move-in day, I was unsure if I bit off more than I could chew. After meeting my neighbors and fellow housers Julia Banks ’23, Caroline Schaeffer ’23, and Avery Warmack ’23, though, I knew I’d be fine. These three became my best friends and biggest support system throughout the ups-and-downs of living with and training a 6-month-old puppy, and are still my favorite people to this day. I’m forever grateful to Lafayette for my best friends, the best faculty adviser in Prof. Bianca Falbo [associate professor of English], and the hardest but most rewarding housing experience of my life.” Madaleine Perry ’24 (mechanical engineering, theater)


Ariel Haber-Fawcett ’24

A portrait of Pepper Prize nominee, Ariel Haber Fawcett.

“Ironically, Lafayette started feeling like home during the time I was stuck at (my other) home in Wisconsin for a year during my leave of absence, which I decided to take during what would have been my sophomore year. Although I was 900 miles away from campus and not enrolled in any classes, I still remained involved in two student organizations: Lafayette Sunrise Movement as well as Lafayette Refugee Action. During this time, I was serving as the case management chair for Refugee Action and due to the intense complexity that came with supporting multiple refugee families from afar, our executive team grew incredibly close, and I formed many amazing friendships that I still consider some of my closest friends today. I think this is a testament to the strength of the Lafayette community; it was able to provide me with a sense of home away from home, while I was at home. On top of the deep friendships I made, it was during this time that I met my now-wife, Anastasiia Shakhurina ’22. Although she was in Moscow and I was in Wisconsin, we were in constant communication throughout these months and began dating only a few weeks after I returned to campus the following year.” Ariel Haber-Fawcett ’24 (international studies, mechanical engineering, minor in Spanish)


Note: All Pepper Prize nominees were given the opportunity to be featured in this story.

Categorized in: Commencement 2024, Featured News, News and Features, Student Profiles, Students

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