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Students Honored for Campus Leadership, Public Service

May 12, 2014

MIDDLEBURY, Vt.—The 2014 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 1 at Atwater Dining Hall.

Dean of the College Shirley Collado greeted the gathering of students, faculty, staff and community members, and, in her opening remarks, said that Middlebury has a long-standing tradition of fostering student leadership in service, creativity and innovation, activism, academic excellence, spiritual and religious engagement, and personal and social responsibility.

Student Leadership Awards

The Angels Award, for a sophomore woman of color who demonstrates leadership, scholarship, and activism, was presented to Gabriela Fuentes ’16 of Chicago, Ill., by Jennifer Herrera, assistant director of student activities and special assistant to Dean Collado.

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Dean Collado and Anna LaSala-Goettler '14

The Barbara J. Buchanan ’62 Memorial Prize for a senior woman who represents Buchanan’s academic excellence and ideal of service was presented to Anna LaSala-Goettler ’14 of New Haven, Conn., by Dean 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 Winson Law ’16 of Seattle, Wash.

The Interfaith Cooperation Award of the Charles P. Scott Center for Spiritual and Religious Life was presented by Chaplain Laurel Macaulay Jordan ’79 to Mariam Khan ’16 of Waterville, Me. 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 Chaplain Jordan to Matthew Blake ’16.5 of Ringoes, N.J. The award recognizes unusual originality in the development of religious activities on campus.

The Spiritual Life Leadership Award of the Charles P. Scott Center for Spiritual and Religious Life was presented to Caroline Kahlenberg ’14 of Bethesda, Md. The award, presented by Associate Chaplain Ira Schiffer, is 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 Kyler Blodgett ’17 of McLean, Va., by Dean Collado.

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 and Associate Director of Athletics Missy Foote, the recipients of the award were: Alyssa Palomba ’14 of Shrewsbury, Mass., and Madeleine Kinker ’16 of Rye, N.Y.

The Alexander Twilight 1823 Diversity and Community Leadership Award was presented to Mzwakithi (Prestige) Shongwe ’16 of Siteki, Swaziland, for exemplifying Twilight’s leadership and determination in a way that transcends boundaries of race, class, and gender. Jennifer Herrera, special assistant to Dean Collado, presented the Twilight Award.  

The Franklin G. Williams 1913 and Sarah H. Williams 1912 Memorial Award was presented to Faraz Khan ’16 of Chicago, Ill., 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

Next, the Public Service Leadership Awards were presented by Tiffany Nourse Sargent ’79, director of community engagement, and by Patrick Durkin ’79, the alumnus who started the PSLA program at Middlebury in 1994 and has provided the financial support to sustain it. (Thanks to the Durkin Fund, 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 or students whose efforts bring the college and the town of Middlebury closer together. For 2014 the award was presented to three students directly involved with the operation of the Open Door Clinicin Middlebury: Diego Galan Donlo ’14 of Burlanda, Spain, Madeline Gilbert ’14 of Woodstock, Vt., and Michael Wysota ’14 of Manhasset, N.Y. 

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Jeanne Bartlett '15 with Tiffany Sargent '79, Will Reeve '14, and Patrick Durkin '79.

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 Samantha Wasserman ’14 of New York, N.Y., who demonstrates unusual compassion and competence as lead coordinator of the Community Friends program.

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. It was presented to Jeanne Betts Bartlett ’15 of Leyden, Mass., for her tireless work and leadership relating to socially responsible investing of the College Endowment. Will Reeve, a Middlebury senior and the son of the late Dana Morosini Reeve and Christopher Reeve, assisted with the presentation.

The Newman Civic Fellows Award, given in honor of the late 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 Rabeya Jawaid ’16 of Dubai, United Arab Emirates, for her commitment to “bridging gaps between groups by providing opportunities through social entrepreneurship and community engagement.” This was the second year that the Newman Award was 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: Mackenzie Walsh ’14 of Bozeman, Mont., for her work with Community Friends, Page One Literacy Project, and the Service Cluster Board; Nathan Garrett Weil ’15 of Nyon, Switzerland, for his leadership with Middlebury Foods, a student-led organization that works to stem hunger and malnutrition in Addison County and beyond; and Michiko Yoshino ’17 of Seattle, Wash., for her volunteerism with Helen Porter Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center, Middlebury Union High School, and Charter House Coalition. (Michiko is the first first-year student in 10 years to receive a Public Service Leadership Award at Middlebury.)

Also receiving Public Service Leadership Awards were: Guadalupe Daniela Barajas ’14 of Houston, Tex., for her work with Juntos, Midd Included, Alianza, Service Cluster Board, and Volunteer Services Organization; Daniel Amar Pena ’16 of College Point, N.Y., for his leadership of an alternative spring break trip to a public school in South Carolina, and for his participation with JusTalks, the Rohatyn Center, and Student Government Association; and Mzwakithi (Prestige) Shongwe ’16 of Siteki, Swaziland, for his “keen ability to link his volunteerism to larger social issues and for dedicating himself to direct service projects at the local and global levels.”

Student Government Association (SGA) Awards

J.J. Boggs, the associate dean of students, opened the final portion of the awards event by presenting the Extraordinary Emerging Leader Award, which goes to a first-year student or a sophomore for outstanding leadership and involvement in the campus community. She recognized Amari Tevell Simpson ’16 of Chicago, Ill., for his leadership with the SGA Constitution Committee, and his involvement with the African American Alliance, the Pre-Med Society, the Academic Affairs Committee, and the Admissions Office.

On behalf of the SGA, Amari Simpson stayed at the podium to present the remaining six Student Government Association 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 Huy Nguyen ’16 of Austin, Tex., for his work as co-chair of Volunteer Services Organization, as a leader of the College chapter of Habitat for Humanity, and as a member of the United Way Impacting Fund Team.

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Emily Bensen '14 and Amari Simpson '16

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 2014 recipient was Andrew Kreuzman ’16 of Wooster, Ohio, for his role in creating a conversation about LGBTQ and the athletic community. Kreuzman made the arrangements so former NFL player Wade Davis, the executive director of the You Can Play Project, could visit Middlebury and discuss the concept of safe space on campus.

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 Emily Bensen ’14 of Norwich, Vt., for her four-year commitment to the Ski Patrol Club.

The Outstanding Campus Leader Award recognizes a junior or senior for innovation, motivation, initiative, and perseverance. The 2014 recipient was Peter Mattson ’14 of Redding, Conn., for his “professional and positive” work as president of Emergency Medical Services and as treasurer of the SGA.

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 Juntos for its “hard work and dedication to addressing the needs of the Latin American migrant-worker population in Addison County.”

The Outstanding Overall Achievement Award recognizes one organization for sustained contributions to the campus and student life. This year’s recipient was the organization Stop Traffick for calling attention to the worldwide problem of human slavery via its powerful symposium called “Humans: Not for Sale.”

In closing Dean Collado 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 of each and every one of you. Thank you for all that you do, and know that we celebrate your time here with pride. We wish you the very best in the next phase of your lives.”

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The 2014 award recipients for leadership and public service.

       Photography by Todd Balfour

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