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College honors students for leadership and public service

May 20, 2013

MIDDLEBURY, Vt.—The 2013 Dean of the College Student Leadership Awards, Public Service Leadership Awards and Student Government Association Awards – a total of 27 honors – were presented to Middlebury College students and organizations at a ceremony on May 7 at Atwater Dining Hall.

President Ronald D. Liebowitz greeted the gathering of students, faculty, staff and community members, and, in his opening remarks, said that Middlebury has a long-standing tradition of fostering student leadership in academic excellence, activism, community service, creativity and innovation, spiritual and religious engagement, and personal and social responsibility.

Dean of the College Shirley Collado joined the president at the podium and asked all the nominees to stand for a round of applause.

Student Leadership Awards

The Angels Award, for a sophomore woman of color who demonstrates leadership, scholarship and activism, was presented to Rana Abdelhamid ’15 of Flushing, N.Y., by Associate Dean Karen Guttentag and by a previous recipient of the Angels Award, Barbara Ofosu-Somuah ’13.  

The Barbara J. Buchanan ’62 Memorial Prize for a senior woman who represents Buchanan’s academic excellence and ideal of service was presented to Hillary Chutter-Ames ’13 of South Hero, Vt., by Dean of the College Shirley Collado.

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, Professor Roman Graf, to Harry Zieve Cohen ’13 of Brooklyn, N.Y.

The Spiritual Life Leadership Award of the Charles P. Scott Center for Spiritual and Religious Life was presented to David Imber ’13 of Medfield, Mass., and Adam Sawamura ’13 of Ellington, Conn.  The award, which was presented by Chaplain Laurel Macaulay Jordan ’79 and Associate Chaplain Ira Schiffer, is for advancing the spiritual lives of others on campus.

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Award recipients Fayezeh Haji Hassan, Adela Habib, Mariam Khan, Marjeela Basij-Rasikh and Naina Qayyum.

The Religious Life Innovation Award of the Charles P. Scott Center for Spiritual and Religious Life was presented by the chaplain’s office to students who show unusual originality in the development of religious activities on campus. This year’s recipients were: Marjeela Basij-Rasikh ’15 of Kabul, Afghanistan, Adela Habib ’15 of Helmand, Afghanistan, Fayezeh Haji Hassan ’14 of Kabul, Afghanistan, Mahnaz Rezaie ’13 of Kabul, Afghanistan, and Naina Qayyum ’15 of Islamabad, Pakistan. Throughout the academic year the five recipients presented a wide variety of programming on campus to dispel stereotypes about people of the Islamic faith.

The Interfaith Cooperation Award of the Charles P. Scott Center for Spiritual and Religious Life was presented by the chaplain’s office to four students who worked together to restructure the college’s Religious Life Council. They were: Michael Ament ’13 of Pacific Palisades, Calif., Blake Harper ’15 of Bainbridge Island, Wash., Mariam Khan ’16 of Waterville, Me., and Chloe Wilwerding ’15 of Omaha, Neb. The award goes to students who actively promote and facilitate interfaith understanding, communication or programming.

The Peter Kohn Service Award, a new award established this year, 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 recipients of the award were: Ellen Halle ’13 of Upperco, Md., and John Duvnjak ’13 of Manhasset, N.Y.

The First-Year Achievement Prize for academic excellence and the ability to relate well to others was presented to Hannah Root ’15.5 of Strafford, Vt., by Dean Collado.

The Alexander Twilight 1823 Diversity and Community Leadership Award was presented to Aya Gallego ’13 of Ithaca, N.Y., for exemplifying Twilight’s leadership and determination in a way that transcends boundaries of race, class and gender. The award was presented by Jennifer Herrera, special assistant to Dean Collado and senior advisor for diversity.

The Franklin G. Williams 1913 and Sarah H. Williams 1912 Memorial Award was presented to Spencer Salibur ’15 of New York, N.Y., by Dean Collado. 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.

Public Service Leadership Awards

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James McMillan, the recipient of the McCardell Public Service Award, with alumnus Patrick Durkin.

Next, the Public Service Leadership Awards were presented by Tiffany Nourse Sargent ’79, director of civic engagement in the Center for Education in Action, and by Patrick Durkin ’79, who started the PSLA program at Middlebury in 1994 and has provided financial support to sustain it. (Thanks to Mr. Durkin, each recipient of a PSLA makes a donation of $300 to the nonprofit organization of his or her choosing.)

The John M. McCardell Jr. Public Service Award goes to a student whose efforts bring the college and the town of Middlebury closer together. For 2013 the award was presented to James McMillan ’14 of Aldergrove, B.C. for his “longstanding commitment to the Middlebury Community Care Coalition’s Charter House Winter Shelter.”

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. It was presented to Simran Sabharwal ’14 of Chatham, N.J., who demonstrated dedication and leadership through her volunteer service to DREAM, a place-based youth mentoring program for local children.

The Dana Morosini Reeve ’84 Memorial Public Service Award is bestowed on a student who demonstrates spirit and determination from the heart that has far-reaching and effective public service. It was presented to Luke Carroll Brown ’13.5 of Pelham, Mass., for his “passion to make Middlebury a violence- and rape-free campus a reality during his undergraduate career.”

The Newman Civic Fellows Award, given in memory of Frank J. Newman, the founder of Campus Compact, is presented to a student who exemplifies Dr. Newman’s passionate advocacy for civic engagement in higher education. The award was presented to Rachel Sider ’14 of Fort Wayne, Ind., for her civic leadership and dedication to finding solutions in the communities where she lives, serves and learns. This is the first year that the Newman Award has been given at Middlebury; Campus Compact is a national coalition of nearly 1,200 college and university presidents committed to the civic purpose of higher education.

For exemplary service to the community, six additional Public Service Leadership Awards were extended to students. The recipients were: Adam Sawamura ’13 of Ellington, Conn, for his deep impact while working with HOPE (Helping Overcome Poverty’s Effects) in Addison County; Anna Stevens ’13 of Shoreham, Vt., for her lasting contributions to the college’s Community Friends program; and Maggie Khuu ’13 of Seattle, Wash., for her leadership in Xiao Pengyou, a mentoring program that pairs Middlebury students of Asian descent with adopted Asian children in Addison County.

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Honored for their work with Special Olympics: Harris Huguenard (left) and Joseph Tamposi. 

Also receiving Public Service Leadership Awards were: Harris Huguenard ’13 of Houston, Tex., and Joseph Tamposi ’14 of Hernando, Fla., for their leadership in the formation and implementation of the Special Olympics Basketball League; Mia Benjamin ’13 of Fairfield, Conn., for her tireless efforts on behalf of the local Habitat for Humanity chapter; and the four senior leaders in the Sister to Sister mentoring program: Emily Dodge ’13 of Auburn, Me., Gillian Porter ’13 of Pittsburgh, Pa., Kelly Suralik ’13 of Kohler, Wis., and Kelsanah Wade ’13 of Bronx, N.Y.

Student Government Association (SGA) Awards

SGA deputy chief of staff Brian Clow ‘13 presented the Student Government Association awards.

The Outstanding Campus Leader Award recognizes a junior or senior for innovation, motivation, initiative and perseverance. The 2013 recipient was Charles Arnowitz ’13 of Highland Park, Ill., for his work as SGA president, specifically for lobbying the administration to assume financial responsibility for programs that did not fit the intent of the student activity fee, for tightening SGA operations through constitution and by-law changes, and for representing the student body on panels relating to key campus issues.

The Extraordinary Emerging Leader Award goes to a first-year student or a sophomore for outstanding leadership and involvement in the campus community. The award was presented to Rufus Raghunath ’15 of Singapore “for his tireless devotion, support and leadership” in advancing the Capoeira Club on campus.

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Jeanne Bartlett (left) with Brian Clow of the Student Government Association.

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 Jeanne Bartlett ’15 of Leyden, Mass., for her work as co-president of the Socially Responsible Investing Club and as a leader of the group Divest for Our Future.

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 2013 recipient was JusTalks, a new, student-led forum designed to build community and promote campus-wide discussion on personal and social issues.

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 Jeanne Bartlett ’15 of Leyden, Mass., for her work as co-president of the Socially Responsible Investing Club and as a leader of the group Divest for Our Future.

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. The 2013 recipient was Dustin Attwood-Dupont ’14 of San Antonio, Tex., for his dedication to the Men’s Rugby Club.

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 2013 recipient was Stop Traffick, an organization that seeks to combat sex trafficking through efforts to empower young women in rural Nepal through education and microfinance.

The Outstanding Overall Achievement Award recognizes one organization for sustained contributions to the campus and student life. This year’s recipient was Community Friends, the organization that partners Middlebury students with children in the community. This past year Community Friends increased its appreciable impact on the community by adding 45 new members.

In closing, Dean Collado thanked everyone who works so tirelessly to support Middlebury students in their leadership development, and to the graduates she said: “As you begin whatever new phase that follows your graduation, we know that you will take with you the personal tradition of leadership and community engagement that you have established here at Middlebury, and will make it part of the rest of your life.”

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 The 2013 recipients of Dean of the College Student Leadership Awards

Reporting by Robert Keren

Photography by Trent Campbell