Spirit of Pitt candidates show school pride for Homecoming Week


Image via Pittwire

The 2022 Spirit of Pitt Candidates outside of the William Pitt Union. Pictured from left to right: Annie Goodwin, Gwyneth Lloyd, Ben Asciutto, George Barakat, Meg Anderson, Vinnie Giangrasso, Bea Amsalu and Brian Hand.

By Khushi Rai and Madison Dean

Eight candidates are running for this year’s Spirit of Pitt award, which is Pitt’s version of a Homecoming Court. Hosted by the Pitt Alumni Association, the award is given to two students who show a strong sense of pride and involvement in the Pitt community. 

Online voting, available to Pitt students, opens Tuesday at noon and closes Wednesday at noon. The winners will be announced at the Homecoming football game against Virginia Tech on Saturday and will receive $1,500 each from the Alumni Association. 

Bea Amsalu

Amsalu is a senior neuroscience major and a member of the Blue and Gold Society, Pitt Student Alumni Network, Pitt Global Medical Brigades and Rho Psi Eta. She also teaches spin classes through Campus Recreation. Amsalu said she wants other students to know that Pitt offers them much more than just a degree. 

Amsalu said her favorite Pitt memory was when she and her friends spent their night at Hillman Library streaming the ACC championship and completing homework.

“Once the game was over, we ran out into the street like everyone else,” Amsalu said. “My friends were like ‘what if we took off running right now?’ And they take off running and I’m sprinting behind them. We all have these massive backpacks on and we sprint down Fifth. My friends led the massive stampede of people that stormed towards the Cathedral. That was a pretty magical moment.” 

Meg Anderson 

Anderson, a senior finance and business information systems major, started the club Empower with her peers to create an environment for all majors to focus on professional development. Anderson is also a spin instructor at Pitt and a teaching assistant for quantitative methods. Additionally, she works as a professional development consultant at Pitt, for which she reviews student resumes and holds mock interviews. 

Anderson said Pitt is not only a school for her, but a space in which she frequently spends time with her family — which are her favorite moments on campus. 

“Seeing my sister here and running into my family at a place that is so important to me is a great experience,” Anderson said. “It’s really made this experience so momentous because it’s not just college. It’s also where my family and my sister live.”

Ben Asciutto

Asciutto, a senior film and business double major, is running to show that Pitt fosters creativity, and that pursuing a career in entertainment, instead of just science, is possible. 

Asciutto is the executive producer of Pitt Tonight, the University’s late night comedy show, and a member of the business fraternity Delta Sigma Pi. He is also on the Student Government Board’s communication team and is a teaching assistant for film studies class. 

Last summer, Asciutto was given the opportunity through Pitt to film and produce a documentary about his hometown. He emphasized how grateful he is for the resources Pitt offers, allowing him to seek out his career aspirations and personify the Spirit of Pitt.

“There’s just so much out there that Pitt is able to provide,” Asciutto said. “I had the opportunity and I guess you could say the motivation to take that leap and make sure I utilize such amazing resources. I think that ties back to the whole spirit of Pitt.”

George Barakat

Barakat, a junior bioengineering major, said winning Spirit of Pitt would be an award he could remember forever and a part of his legacy at the school. He’s a member of the Biomedical Engineering Society, the Middle Eastern North African Student Association and the Lebanese Student Association. He is also active in sustainability efforts with Pitt Eats and speaks three languages — English, Arabic and French. 

Barakat transferred to Pitt last fall and has enjoyed the school’s activities and sense of community. He said he is always on campus and shows his school spirit by attending as many athletics events as he can, especially the football and soccer games. 

“Your memories are more about what you do outside the class, whether it’s being involved in athletics or, for example, homecoming right now,” Barakat said. “It’s all an experience. I feel like my message is just to really insist people to get involved.” 

Vinnie Giangrasso 

Giangrasso is a senior nursing major who is involved in Pitt Pathfinders, the Nursing Student Association and Pitt Dance Marathon. Outside of school, he works as a patient care technician at the UPMC Children’s Hospital, where he will work as a registered nurse once he graduates. Additionally, he is on the advising committee to represent the seniors in the Bachelors of Science Program for the School of Nursing. 

Giangrasso said his favorite part of Homecoming is meeting the other people on the court. Not only is he able to interact with new people, but he is also able to see how valued and loved he is as a student at Pitt.

“If I had to send out one message, I’d probably say go with your heart,” Giangrasso said. “Follow your dreams. Don’t tell yourself that you can’t do something. I feel like I’m proof of that. I never thought I’d be here today doing all of this, but here I am.”

Annie Goodwin

Goodwin, a senior industrial engineering major, is a member of the Society of Women Engineers, Omicron Delta Kappa Honor Society and Pink Panthers. Goodwin also serves as a campus ambassador for Bumble and Samsung, and splits her work schedule between the Steelers guest service operations and Lululemon. 

As a transfer student in January 2020, Goodwin came to Pitt to find a greater sense of belonging. She said winning the award would emphasize her love for the school and the welcoming community she found. 

“When I was choosing to transfer or go to a different school, I was very intentional on what I was looking for — a community and just a sense of feeling like I belonged,” Goodwin said. “When I saw an opportunity for Spirit of Pitt, I thought it was just like a great opportunity to not just highlight the things I’ve done but to highlight my passions for the student body and the community of Pittsburgh. People are my passion.” 

Brian Hand 

Hand is a senior psychology and economics major and a member of Phi Gamma Delta. He also participates in clinical research at Scaife Hall and previously spent a semester in London through a study abroad program called Children’s Experience of War and Trauma

Hand said he wants Pitt students to know the importance of being themselves on campus in order to find their group of people.

“The biggest thing I have learned at Pitt is to make sure that you’re uniquely yourself,” Hand said. “In order to be the best version of yourself, you have to be comfortable in your own skin. You want to make sure that you know who you are and who you want to be.”

Anneliese Harp

Harp, a senior in the School of Pharmacy and president of her pharmacy class of 2025, is president-elect of the Pennsylvania Pharmacists Association, alternate director of boards for Pitt’s pharmacy school, and a co-chair for both the Pharmacy Leadership Society and the Student Society of Health-System Pharmacists

Harp decided to run this year because of her love for the school. After attending a Steelers game when she was eight years old, she knew Pitt would be her future home. 

“On the gates leading into Heinz field was the word ‘Panthers,’” Harp said. “Because of my love even at that young of an age for Pittsburgh, I knew I wanted to go to Pitt. I thought it would be symbolic to start to close my undergraduate journey at Pitt the way it started — at Heinz field.”

Gwyneth Lloyd

Lloyd is a senior psychology and sociology major, as well as a member of Sigma Delta Tau, Alpha Phi Omega, Psi Chi and vice president of Gamma Sigma Alpha. She is also a student researcher, an undergraduate teaching assistant, a Millie’s and Saxby’s Campus Brand Ambassador and is a part of Pitt’s TRIO Student Support Services

Lloyd said she ran for Spirit of Pitt last year as well and because it was such an amazing experience, she decided to run again.

“I have the chance to embody what Pitt is,” Lloyd said. “Being a person of color and a first-generation student, I always saw that Homecoming was a very white-washed, typical rich people event. Even if it is not me, having someone that is of color or of similar economic status run for this is wonderful for current and future students.”