Notre Dame administration honors student leaders
Kayla Mullen | Friday, May 16, 2014
Editor’s Note: A version of this article appeared in the April 10 edition of The Observer.
Notre Dame’s Division of Student Affairs presented awards to seven students at the annual Student Leadership Awards Banquet on April 1, according to a University press release.
Senior Jenna Ahn received the Blessed Basil Moreau, C.S.C., Leadership Award for her work with Campus Ministry and the Center for Social Concerns (CSC). She has served as a leader in efforts to unite students working with both offices, the press release stated.
“I think it’s essential that Campus Ministry work together with the CSC because the two, faith and justice, are deeply connected,” Ahn said. “Collaborating between Campus Ministry and CSC reminds us to always be contemplatives in action where what we contemplate will be put into action and where our actions will become forms of contemplation.”
Ahn said she became involved with the CSC’s Summer Service Learning Program (SSLP) and the International Summer Service Learning Program (ISSLP), through which she traveled to Kolkata, India.
“I decided to get involved with the SSLP after my freshman year because I was interested in continuing to ask the difficult questions about structural sin, poverty and suffering,” she said. “I left with more questions than answers.
“I participated in the ISSLP in Kolkata because I wanted to experience and walk in the footsteps of Mother Teresa. I wanted to learn to love more radically, not for my own benefits and sense of ‘feel-good,’ but to love the other as to will only their good.”
Senior Elizabeth Tucker, a four-year member of the varsity women’s soccer team and two-time captain, won the Ray Siegfried Award for Leadership Excellence, the press release stated. Tucker has combined community service with her athletics, having her team adopt a patient from the local hospital and organizing tutoring at a local elementary school, she said.
“My junior year … I decided that it would be really cool to get involved with the Fighting Irish Fight for Life program, because it was a way [the soccer team] could adopt a little sister and bring someone in and bring so much happiness,” Tucker said. “It’s been really fun for me because I’ve gotten to know her very well.”
Senior Julia Steiner, former editor-in-chief of the Scholastic magazine, won the Denny Moore Award for Excellence in Journalism. The magazine has devoted more attention to the topic of diversity under her leadership, the press release said.
“I think it’s really interesting to not only understand the differences that we all share on the outside, but to strike up these conversations and to begin to understand how we all think differently, how we see the world differently,” Steiner said. “… We did not have an outward push for diversity; it was kind of a thread that seemed to weave in throughout the year.”
Steiner said she also credits the magazine’s success to its staff.
“I accepted [the award] individually, and I am proud of the work that I’ve done, but at the same time, it was really a group effort,” she said. “That’s probably what I’m most proud of; Scholastic won News Magazine of the Year for the second year in a row in the state of Indiana.”
Senior Edithstein Cho received the inaugural Diversity and Inclusion Award for her role as co-founder and producer of “Show Some Skin,” a student production that aims to shed light on students’ stories about difference and identity, according to the press release.
“I saw minority students on our campus talked amongst themselves and did a lot of problem identification on race issues, which is articulating what is insensitive or racist,” Cho said. “To go beyond problem identification and to engage and change how people engaged race, the three of us [Cho, senior Hien Luu and JeeSeun Choi, class of 2012] wanted to hear deeper narratives.
“The monologues [in ‘Show Some Skin’] show that the writers are human beings who have flaws and prejudices of their own, alongside having their own baggage that determines how they orient themselves. We named our production, ‘Show Some Skin,’ in order to challenge our community to dig deeper into their identity and experiences to create a starting point for dialogue. ‘Show Some Skin’ is a form of art for social justice.”
Karen Antonio, a doctoral student in the department of biochemistry and chemistry, won the Sister Jean Lenz, O.S.F., Leadership Award for her contributions in promoting women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields through her organization of monthly lunch meetings for women to present and hear research presentations, the press release stated.
“You have this informal, comfort way of talking to faculty and staff,” Antonio said. “You get a different side of professors; you’re eating lunch, talking about what you do, your family, your pets, whatever you want, and it’s not that constricting, professional box that you are usually in.
“As far as women in science go, you’re able to unite people in a very comfortable way that probably would not have been available otherwise.”
Senior Alex Coccia, student body president emeritus, won the Rev. A. Leonard Collins Award, which is given to a senior who has made large strides toward advancing the interests of Notre Dame students, according to the Student Affairs website.
Coccia worked to improve the campus climate for LGBTQ students, undocumented students and students affected by sexual violence, the press release said.
“I want to ensure that all students feel welcome at Notre Dame, and breaking the silence on issues that create oppressive environments is the first step towards that goal,” Coccia said. “Ultimately, the student experience is sacred, and we must ensure that we as students do all we can to create a welcoming environment for all.”