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Dean of the College Katy Smith Abbott presented the Barbara Buchanan '62 Prize to Gaby Fuentes '16.

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Middlebury Honors Students, Organizations for Leadership

May 12, 2016

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. – Thirty-five Middlebury College undergraduates and the students comprising five organizations were honored at the 2016 Student Leadership Awards Ceremony held on May 4 in Atwater Dining Hall.

President Laurie L. Patton greeted the gathering of Middlebury students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community members, and said the undergraduates nominated for awards this year embody the values that Middlebury strives to imbue in its students. “You are the manifestation of our mission to be an institution where students not only receive a thoughtful education, but where they can and should become world citizens,” she added.

Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of the College Katy Smith Abbott served as master of ceremonies, and pointed out that the public service recognition program at Middlebury is now in its 23rd year – “a legacy that speaks to both Middlebury’s belief that learning is not confined to the classroom alone, and that a commitment to the greater good is one worth striving for all the time.”

The evening’s 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.

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Maya Doig-Acuna presented Angels Awards to (from left) Jenn Ortega, Sierra Jackson, and Kizzy Joseph. (Click on photos to enlarge.)

The Angels Award for a sophomore woman of color who demonstrates leadership, scholarship, and activism was presented to four students – Elizabeth Dunn ’18 of Atlanta, Ga., Sierra Jackson ’18 of Chicago, Ill., Kizzy Joseph ’18, of Brooklyn, N.Y., and Jenn Ortega ’18 of Chicago, Ill. Jennifer Herrera, associate director of the Anderson Freeman Resource Center, presented the award, assisted by previous recipients Maya Doig-Acuna ’16 and Gaby Fuentes ’16.

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 Gaby Fuentes ’16 of Chicago, Ill., by Dean of the College 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 Ross Commons Dean Ann Hanson and by Professor Roman Graf, the Brainerd Commons faculty head. The recipients were Janessa Gonzalez ’17 of Miami, Fla., and Jana Kumar ’17 of Wakefield, R.I.

The Interfaith Cooperation Award of the Charles P. Scott Center for Spiritual and Religious Life was presented by Ellen McKay, the administrative program coordinator of the Scott Center, to the members of the Interfaith Programming Board, or “Mosaic.” They are Henry Burnett ’18 of Wrightsville Beach, N.C., Alexandra Freedman ’18 of Villanova, Pa., Mariam Khan ’16 of Waterville, Me., and Eli Susman ’18 of Northbrook, Ill.  The award recognizes students who actively promote and facilitate interfaith understanding, communication, or programming.

The Spiritual Life Innovation Award of the Charles P. Scott Center for Spiritual and Religious Life was presented by Chaplain Laurel Macaulay Jordan ’79 to Toni Cross ’18 of Chuluota, Fla., Jonathan O’Dell ’18 of Hurricane, W.V., Jeremy Stratton-Smith ’17 of Rochester, N.Y., and Virginia Wiltshire-Gordon ’16 of Wilmette, Ill., for advancing progressive aspects of the Christian faith.

The Spiritual Life Leadership Awards of the Charles P. Scott Center for Spiritual and Religious Life were presented to Matei Epure ’16 of Bucharest, Romania, Shelby Friedman ’16 of Dallas, Texas, and Hasher Nisar ’16 of Cheshire, Conn. The annual award, which was presented by Chaplain Jordan, Associate Chaplain Ira Schiffer, and Chaplaincy Fellow Naila Baloch, recognizes students who facilitate the spiritual lives of others.

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The director of the Scott Center, Professor Larry Yarbrough, presented special awards to Sierra Jackson and Mariam Khan.

The Scott Center also presented special awards to Sierra Jackson ’18 of Chicago, Ill., for her vision, planning, and work in leading the 2016 Alternative Spring Break Trip to her hometown, and to Mariam Khan ’16 of Waterville, Me., for her “passionate advocacy of interfaith community building” and for “unparalleled leadership qualities.” Professor Larry Yarbrough, director of the Scott Center, made both presentations.

The First-Year Achievement Prize for academic excellence and the ability to relate well to others was presented to Emily Robinson ’18 of Weybridge, Vt., 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 Maddie Kinker ’16 of Rye, N.Y.

Public Service Leadership Awards (PSLA) were presented by Tiffany Nourse Sargent ’79, director of community engagement, and Patrick Durkin ’79, the alumnus who started the PSLA program at Middlebury in 1994 and has provided financial support to sustain it. 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 2016 the award was presented to Anna Knowles Jacobsen ’16 of Seattle, Wash., and Santiago Navarro Roby ’16 of Norwich, Vt., for initiating a study with Addison County Transit Resources to expand public transportation services to meet the needs of under-served rural populations.

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 Greer McInnes Howard ’16 of Bryn Mawr, Pa., for her work as lead student coordinator of Community Friends, the student organization that supports one-to-one mentoring for children and adults in Addison County.

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Alumnus Patrick Durkin has supported public service leadership at Middlebury since 1994.

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 2016 recipient was Erin Miller ’16 of Nashville, Tenn., in recognition of her leadership with the student organization For the Kids, which conducted a dance marathon and raised over $18,000 for the UVM Children’s Hospital. Will Reeve ’14, the son of the late Dana Morosini Reeve and Christopher Reeve, assisted with the presentation, and Anne Rowell Noble ’78 was recognized for funding the award.

For exemplary service to the community, six additional Public Service Leadership Awards were extended to students. The recipients were: Kathryn Jean Haderlein ’16 of Pasadena, Calif., for her work with Addison Special Olympics and DREAM, and for interning with United Way of Addison County; Gaby Fuentes ’16 of Chicago, Ill., for her dedication to social justice activism and the empowerment of women and teen girls; and Charlie Mitchell ’18 of Beverly, Mass., for his dedication, leadership, and activism with the organization Middlebury Foods, which seeks to ensure food security for residents of Addison County and surrounding communities.

Also receiving Public Service Leadership Awards were: Tiff Chang ’17 of Larkspur, Calif., for being a role model and peer leader in issues of diversity, inclusion, equity, and access; Michiko Yoshino ’17 of Seattle, Wash., for forging community-service connections between Middlebury’s School in Japan and community organizations in the Mitaka area of Tokyo; and Alexander McGarry Browne ’18 of Orinda, Calif., for his service with the Middlebury Fire Department and Middlebury Regional Emergency Medical 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 Dan Adamek ’18 of Herkimer, N.Y., for his “transformative intelligence, leadership, and kindness” as a volunteer, intern, and board member with John Graham Housing and Services in Vergennes, Vt.,  This was the fourth year 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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Officers of the Middlebury Fire Department and Tiffany Sargent joined in honoring sophomore Alexander Browne.

The Alexander Twilight 1823 Diversity and Community Leadership Award was presented to Debanjan Roychoudhury ’16 of Jamaica, 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 award

The Franklin G. Williams 1913 and Sarah H. Williams 1912 Memorial Award was presented to Tabitha Miller ’18 of Sheridan, Ore., 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.

The Outstanding Campus Leader Award recognizes a junior or senior for innovation, motivation, initiative, and perseverance. The 2016 recipient was Diku Rogers ’16 of Brooklyn, N.Y., as a founding member of Evolution Dance Crew and leader in Verbal Onslaught, a monthly spoken-word event open to all students. Dean Smith Abbott presented the award.

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. Presented by Daniel Buchman, the SGA’s director of student organizations, the recipient was Hazel Millard ’18 of Brooklyn, N.Y., for her leadership of the College Democrats and her collaboration with other groups including the College Republicans.

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 Prasanna Vankina ’18 of Minneapolis, Minn., for her work as an first-year counselor in which she made “every member of her hall feel welcome, included, and safe.” The SGA’s Daniel Buchman presented this and the four other SGA awards that followed.

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 2016 recipient was the cast and crew of “the emotionally potent” on-campus production of “Detroit ’67.”

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 Erin Miller ’16 of Nashville, Tenn., who presided over this year’s dance marathon that raised over $18,000 for the UVM Children’s Hospital.

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Members of the Black Student Union accepted the SGA's Outstanding Overall Achievement Award for 2016.

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 Middlebury Women Leaders, an organization that demonstrated “passion for uplifting, empowering, and supporting women’s leadership on campus.”

The Outstanding Overall Achievement Award recognizes one organization for sustained contributions to the campus and student life. This year’s recipient was the Black Student Union for its “brilliant, timely, and important programming” including the BlackOUT solidarity event and spoken-word benefit for people affected by the Flint, Mich., water crisis.

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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President Patton (right) was joined by the recipients for a group photograph at the close of the evening.

– Photography by Trent Campbell

1 Comment

I remember winning one of these years ago. Major confidence booster and makes you feel good about giving back to the community. Congrats to all.

by Morgan Jones (not verified)

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