The late Everett Derryberry, who served as Tennessee Tech's president for 34 years, established this annual award upon his retirement. Derryberry's criteria called for the award to be given "to a senior who has exhibited scholastic attainment arising out of moral and intellectual integrity; successful campus activity where participation indicates a commitment to good citizenship, interest in one's fellow person, and instincts for leadership; and physical vigor as shown by fondness for and success in sports."
Ervin, the daughter of John and Ruth Ervin of Millington, graduated from Millington Central High School. She maintained a 4.0 grade point average at Tennessee Tech where she received several scholarships, including the TTU Academic Scholarship, the Engineering Scholarship Awards Program scholarship and the Ned McWherter Scholarship.
Outstanding academic performance led to Ervin's memberships in Chi Epsilon civil engineering honor society, Tau Beta Pi engineering honor society, Omicron Delta Kappa honor society, Phi Kappa Phi honor society, Alpha Lambda Delta national freshman honor society, and the Technology Student Association national honor society.
While pursuing her degree, Ervin contributed leadership to the university by serving three terms on the Honors Council, serving as secretary then president of the TTU Society of Women Engineers, and holding membership in the Associated Scholars Guild and the University Commission on the Status of Women.
In sports, Ervin sat on the Associated Scholars Guild intramural sports committee and participated in several intramural sports, including softball, volleyball, football and soccer.
Ervin worked at the State of Tennessee Department of Transportation in Cookeville, Tenn., and at the Region 4 district office in Memphis. She also worked as an engineering intern with Grace and Associates, Inc., in Bartlett, Tenn.
The Derryberry award selection process involves soliciting campus nominations from every department, school, college and administrative division as well as from Student Government Association executive officers. Of this year's 19 nominees, five finalists were interviewed.Other finalists were Shannon Brown, an accounting major from Dickson; Mark T. Orr, an chemistry major from Kingsport; Natalie Fay Treadway, a business management major from Castilian Springs; and Mary Margaret Webb, a world cultures and business major from Pleasant View.