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Annual banquet honors student leadership

Aubrey Butts | Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Division of Student Affairs honored six Notre Dame seniors and one post-baccalaureate student for their academic, journalistic and service contributions to the University at the April 3 Student Leadership Awards Banquet.

The awards recognize students whose efforts benefit not only the University community but also disadvantaged populations across the globe, according to a University press release.

Senior Emily Conron received the John W. Gardner Student Leadership Award for her work with the Notre Dame Fighting Neglected Tropical Diseases club. Conron said the trajectory of her service work was unexpected yet purposeful.

“My involvement with the club has shaped everything else that I’ve undertaken in college, even though I got into it by accident,” Conron said. “I’m not a hard science major, but I’ve learned a lot. Over this past winter break, I was able to unite my psychology major with my theology major with my interest in NTDs by traveling to Haiti and interviewing patients there about their mental health and religious beliefs.”

Conron said students should not necessarily limit their extracurricular activities to groups related to preexisting interests.

“You need to be open to finding new passions and when things creep up on you that seem interesting, even if you think it will be a diversion from your plans. I think those diversions are sometimes the most fruitful things you encounter,” Conron said. “They force you to take something and run with it, and you never know where you are going to end up.”

Michael Mercurio is the recipient of this year’s Rev. Leonard A. Collins Award, which honors a graduating senior who has made substantial efforts to advance the interest of students. He said students should work to join passion with purpose.

“A lot of the club work I’ve done while at Notre Dame has stemmed from seeing a need. Often, I didn’t even plan on becoming involved, but I felt very at home in the communities these clubs created,” Mercurio said. “If you want to start a club or a new initiative, be passionate about it and don’t worry about the hoops you might have to jump through, because people want to see you succeed.”

Mercurio is involved with the Classics club and is a resident assistant in Morrissey Manor. He said he considers leadership the natural outcome of personal passion and communal support.

“I’ve been so lucky to be surrounded by good people. My rector has always been a great model of leadership and all those involved in the other organizations have made it easy to serve,” Mercurio said. “I have a hard time calling myself a leader. I just want to be there for people.”

In addition to Conron and Mercurio, the Office of Student Affairs recognized student leaders writing for campus publications, working to create a more inclusive campus, demonstrating a passion for athletics and advancing the Catholic character of the University. Seniors Megan Doyle [Editor’s note: Doyle is a senior news writer for The Observer.], Clara Ritger, Adam Zebrowski and James White and law student Michael Gillman were all honored for their leadership at Notre Dame.

Contact Aubrey Butts at abutts@nd.edu