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Molly Stuart '15 accepted a Public Service Leadership Award from Tiffany Nourse Sargent '79.

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College Confers Student Leadership Awards

May 8, 2015

MIDDLEBURY, Vt.—Middlebury College students and student organizations earned 27 honors at the 2015 Dean of the College Student Leadership Awards Ceremony held on April 29 in Atwater Dining Hall

Dean of the College Katy Smith Abbott greeted the gathering and said Middlebury undergraduates have a long tradition of fostering student leadership in service, creativity and innovation, activism, academic excellence, spiritual and religious engagement, and personal and social responsibility.

More than 150 students, faculty, staff, and community members came together for the 2015 ceremony, and the awards were presented in three categories: Dean of the College Awards, Joint Dean of the College and Student Government Association Awards, and Student Government Association Awards.

Dean of the College Awards

The Angels Award, for a sophomore woman of color who demonstrates leadership, scholarship, and activism, was presented to Jessica Gutierrez ’17 of Chicago, Ill., by Jennifer Herrera, associate director of the Intercultural Resource Center.

The Barbara J. Buchanan ’62 Memorial Prize for a senior woman who represents Buchanan’s academic excellence and her ideal of service was presented to Jeannie Bartlett ’15 of Leyden, Mass., by Dean Smith Abbott.

The Carri A. Smith ’98 Award for Outstanding Intercommons Council Member, which goes to a student who exemplifies the ideals of the commons system, a passion for the College, and a commitment to student life, was presented by the faculty head of Brainerd Commons, Associate Professor Stefano Mula, to Mohamed Hussein ’17 of Cairo, Egypt.

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Chaplaincy Fellows Beau Scurich and Naila Baloch

The Interfaith Cooperation Award of the Charles P. Scott Center for Spiritual and Religious Life was presented by Chaplaincy Fellows Beau Scurich and Naila Baloch to Akhila Khanna ’17 of New Delhi, India, the president of the Hindu Students Association. The award goes to a student who actively promotes and facilitates interfaith understanding, communication, or programming.

The Religious Life Innovation Award of the Charles P. Scott Center for Spiritual and Religious Life was presented by Associate Chaplain Ira Schiffer to Aliza Laurel Cohen ’17 of Signal Mountain, Tenn., for her work with the Middlebury chapter of Hillel. The award recognizes unusual originality in the development of religious activities on campus.

Two Spiritual Life Leadership Awards of the Charles P. Scott Center for Spiritual and Religious Life were presented to David Keun Woong Park ’15 of Seoul, Republic of Korea, and to Sarah Rose Cohen ’15 of Newton, Mass. The annual award, which was presented by Chaplain Laurel Macaulay Jordan ’79 and Associate Chaplain Schiffer, is granted for advancing the spiritual lives of others on campus and supporting the spiritual journey of peers.

The First-Year Achievement Prize for academic excellence and the ability to relate well to others was presented to Tina Chen ’18 of Alhambra, Calif., by Dean Smith Abbott.  

The Peter Kohn Service Award goes to a student-athlete who “best exemplifies the spirit of community and service” as demonstrated by the late Peter Kohn, who served as a manager for Middlebury athletics for over 20 years. Presented by Director of Athletics Erin Quinn, the recipient of the award was Katheryn Jean Haderlein ’16 of Pasadena, Calif.

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Dean of the College Katy Smith Abbott

Public Service Leadership Awards (PSLA) were presented by Tiffany Nourse Sargent ’79, director of community engagement, who also represented Patrick Durkin ’79, the alumnus who started the PSLA program at Middlebury in 1994 and has provided financial support to sustain it. Durkin could not attend the 2015 awards event, but thanks to his Durkin Fund each recipient of a PSLA receives $300 to use as a donation to the nonprofit organization of his or her choosing.

The John M. McCardell Jr. Public Service Award goes to a student or students whose efforts bring the College and the Town of Middlebury closer together. For 2015 the award was presented to Catherine Anne Costley ’15 of Williamstown, Mass., for her years of service to the Charter House Coalition in Middlebury and her work with the Navajo Nation through the Shepherd Poverty Internship Program.

The Bonnie McCardell Public Service Award is presented to a student or students for excellence in outreach in literacy, youth and family services, or the special needs of at-risk youngsters. The award was presented to Megan Else Ernst ’15 of Dallas, Tex., who founded the student organization MiddCAM, or Middlebury College Access Mentors, which guides local high school students through the college-application process.

The Dana Morosini Reeve ’84 Memorial Public Service Award is bestowed to a student who demonstrates spirit and determination from the heart that has far-reaching and effective public service. The 2015 recipient was Anna Rose Shireman-Grabowski ’15 of Bear Lake, Mich., in recognition of her leadership with the student organizations Rising Tide, Just Power, and the Sunday Night Group. Will Reeve ’14, the son of the late Dana Morosini Reeve and Christopher Reeve, assisted with the presentation.

For exemplary service to the community, six additional Public Service Leadership Awards were extended to students. The recipients were: Kate Meadows Murray ’15 of Milton, Mass., for her work with WomenSafe; Firas Malek Nasr ’15 of Fairfax, Va., for her leadership with the Volunteer Services Organization; and Hannah Bass Root ’15.5 of Strafford, Vt., for her volunteerism as a mentor and leader of the Community Friends program.

Also receiving Public Service Leadership Awards were: Molly Hartnett Stuart ’15 of Soquel, Calif., for her work with the student organizations Juntos and Migrant Justice; Virginia Rives Wiltshire-Gordon ’16 of Wilmette, Ill., for her contributions to the Socially Responsible Investment Club, the Sunday Night Group, and the after-school mentoring program DREAM; and the nine Middlebury College students who became certified hospice volunteers with Addison County’s Hospice Volunteer Services.

The Newman Civic Fellows Award, given in memory of the founder of Campus Compact, Frank J. Newman, is presented to a student who exemplifies Dr. Newman’s passionate advocacy for civic engagement in higher education. The award was presented to Kyler Blodgett ’15 of McLean, Va., for his commitment to the Page 1 Literacy Project, Charter House Coalition, and the Brother-to-Brother organization. This was the third year that the Newman Award was awarded at Middlebury; Campus Compact is a national coalition of nearly 1,200 college and university presidents committed to the civic purpose of higher education.

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Roberto Sagareña presented the Twilight Award to seniors Afi Yellow-Duke and Michael Bernstein.

The Alexander Twilight 1823 Diversity and Community Leadership Award was presented to Michael Hunter Bernstein ’15 of Chappaqua, N.Y., and Afi Ekpo Yellow-Duke ’15 of Brooklyn, N.Y., for exemplifying Twilight’s leadership and determination in a way that transcends boundaries of race, class, and gender. Roberto Lint Sagareña, associate professor and director of the Center for the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity, presented the Twilight Award to both recipients.   

The Franklin G. Williams 1913 and Sarah H. Williams 1912 Memorial Award was presented to Sophie Vaughan ’17 of Oakland, Calif., by Dean Smith Abbott. It is awarded to a sophomore on the basis of natural kindness, perceptivity to the needs of others, and an abiding sense of personal responsibility.

Joint Dean of the College and Student Government Association (SGA) Awards

The president of the SGA, Taylor Custer ’15, and the SGA’s director of student organizations, Zack Isaacs ’15, presented the Joint Dean of the College and Student Government Association (SGA) Awards.

The Outstanding Campus Leader Award recognizes a junior or senior for innovation, motivation, initiative, and perseverance. The 2015 recipient was Emma Erwin ’15 Houston, Tex., for her success with the Resilience Project.

The Extraordinary Emerging Leader Award is presented annually to a first-year or a sophomore for organizing events and activities, and for improving the Middlebury community. The recipient was James Callison ’17.5, of Cherry Hills Village, Colo., for his leadership in strengthening the Debate Society.

Student Government Association (SGA) Awards

The Baumgarten ’98 and Udzenija ’99 SGA Memorial Award honors a sophomore who personifies academic achievement, the passion for learning, compassion for others, and involvement in student activities. The recipient was Kyler Blodgett ’15 of McLean, Va., for his numerous volunteer activities and for his community spirit, which was summed up by his words, “I learned that there is a really important difference between giving a meal to someone and sharing a meal with someone.”  

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James Callison accepted his award from SGA leaders Zack Isaacs (l.) and Taylor Custer (r.).

The Extraordinary Initiative Award recognizes an exceptional program, cultural event, guest speaker, or production that is conceived and carried out by a student or students. The 2015 recipient was the student organization Alianza, which organized a teach-in and vigil to engage the Middlebury community about the violence in Ayotzinapa, Mexico.

The Outstanding Leader of a Student Organization Award is presented each year to a student who has brought honor to a student organization through his or her leadership and selflessness. This year’s recipient was Zoe Hannah Kaslow ’15 of Solana Beach, Calif., who served four years on the Middlebury College Activities Board, played an active role at events, and spearheaded a restructuring of the MCAB.

The Outstanding New Organization Award goes to a newly formed, SGA-recognized campus group that addresses a need or community issue that had not previously been supported. The recipient was Evolution Dance Crew, which “integrated a variety of dance styles” and “provided a unique outlet for a diverse group of students to just dance.”

The Outstanding Overall Achievement Award recognizes one organization for sustained contributions to the campus and student life. This year’s recipient was the Volunteer Services Organization (VSO) for its “consistent, sustainable, and meaningful approach to volunteer services at Middlebury College.” From the United Way’s Days of Caring to Trick-or-Treat for Canned Goods to MLK Day of Service, the VSO “embodies Middlebury’s philosophy of community engagement and leadership,” said the two presenters from the SGA.

In closing Dean Smith Abbott thanked the faculty, staff, and community partners who work tirelessly to support Middlebury students in their leadership development, and to the award recipients she said: “We are so proud to know you and so grateful for all that you do.”

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The recipients at the 2015 Student Leadership Awards Ceremony

- Photos by Trent Campbell (Click on images to enlarge.)

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