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Seniors receive awards at annual Student Leadership Banquet

| Friday, May 17, 2019

The 33rd annual Student Leadership Awards Banquet took place April 9. At the banquet, multiple awards were distributed, celebrating a range of student achievement and involvement on campus.  

Karen Kennedy, director of student centers, activities and events, said although her office hosted the banquet, a number of different organizations gave out awards.

“The first ones are those given by the [student] government and Hall President’s Council,” Kennedy said.

These awards included the Irish Clover Award, which honors two community members — students, faculty, staff or administrators — for service to the student body. This year’s Irish Clover Award was bestowed to staff assistant Kim Miller and senior Corey Gayheart. The Frank O’Malley Award, which is awarded annually to a faculty member for “outstanding service to the students of the Notre Dame community,” was given to assistant Program of Liberal Studies professor Jennifer Newsome Martin. The Michael J. Palumbo Award, which honors a student for “outstanding service and dedication to the student union,” was awarded to senior Dan Hopkinson. 

The Office of Student Affairs also awarded a series of prizes. These awards included the the Rev. A. Leonard Collins, CSC, Award, which was awarded to senior Bethany Boggess. The award is given to a senior who ”has expended substantial personal effort to advance the interests of students at Notre Dame,” according to the Division of Student Affairs website.

The Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C. Award, was awarded to senior Deborah Bineza. The Student Affairs website said the Hesburgh award is bestowed every year upon a senior who has focused on furthering inclusion efforts within the Notre Dame community.

Senior Richard Klee received the Sister Jean Lenz, OSF Leadership Award, which is annually given to a “post-baccalaureate student who has displayed leadership in promoting a more diverse, inclusive campus community for students.”

The Blessed Basil Moreau, CSC, Leadership Award, which honors a senior ”who embodies Fr. Moreau’s vision of educating both the heart and mind, and who has demonstrated significant effort to advance the Catholic character of the University,” was awarded to senior Joe Crowley.

The John W. Gardner Student Leadership Award, which was awarded to senior and class of 2019 salutatorian Annelise Gill-Wiehl, “annually honors a student who exemplifies the ideals of Notre Dame through outstanding volunteer service beyond the University community.”

Senior Alyssa Ngo received the Mike Russo Spirit Award, which is bestowed each year to an “outstanding undergraduate student who exemplifies the qualities for which Mike Russo was known, including service, personal character and those who strive to bring about the best in themselves and others.”

The Ray Siegfried Award for Leadership Excellence, which honors a graduating senior for “leadership, generosity, devotion to the Catholic faith and affinity for athletics,” was awarded to senior Shannon Hendricks.

The Denny Moore Award for Excellence in Journalism was awarded to senior Juan Jose Rodriguez.

The Student Activities office also awards the Student Leadership Award every year, Kennedy said.

“It’s meant to be given to students who got involved and impacted campus in a variety of ways,” she said. “So it’s not like some of the named ones are really specific to students who have done service, or specifically to students who’ve made great impact in terms of making Notre Dame a more diverse and welcoming environment. So ours are more broad, and we receive nominations from students and staff and we select 10 that we award to students.”

The nomination for a Student Leadership Award can come from either a student or staff member and student can be nominated for a diverse level of work and engagement on campus. The 10 recipients of the Student Leadership Awards this year were seniors Clare Cunningham, Sarah Morris, Kayah St. Gerard, Prathm Juneja, Anusha Jain, Maureen Schweninger, Nicholas Martinez, Charles Trense, Nohemi Toledo and Andrea Tong.

Jain, a recipient of the award from Lyons Hall, said she believes she received the award due to her involvement in dorm life as well as programing and planning events as part of the Student Union Board. She said she was surprised to receive the award.

“I was surprised, because the [nomination was] not in my hands,” she said. “It makes you feel very valued, which is something I feel that the University does really well.”

Jain, an international student, plans to start work in industry somewhere abroad next year.

“I’m going into industry — 16 years of school is enough for me,” she said. “I’m probably going to go abroad, either to the Middle East, or back to India and work there for a couple years and then see where that goes. Maybe come back for a Master’s.”

Jain also had an idea of the kind of work she wanted to get involved with.

“I’m usually looking for something that front-end and client-based,” Jain said. “With my experience in Student Union and dorm life and stuff like that, I am better at face-value. Like when you put me in front of someone, I perform better than if I would on paper.”

Martinez was another recipient of a Student Leadership award. He has worked in a variety of areas during his time on-campus.

“I like to think that I tried to make every moment count,” Martinez said. “Most recently I’ve been the vice president of The Shirt Project.”

Martinez said he has also been heavily involved with SAO and dorm life. He said it feel great to be recognized for something about his time at Notre Dame which he so deeply cared about.

“It’s incredible, it’s really nice to be recognized for all of my different involvements at [Notre Dame],” he said.  

Martinez will be moving to California after graduation to work in healthcare.

“I move out to San Francisco in July. I’m going to be working as a healthcare consultant and patient advocate in San Francisco,” he said.  

One recipient, Cunningham, couldn’t attend the awards ceremony due to the schedule of her ROTC training. However, she said she thinks it was her involvement in the ROTC program that got her nominated for the award. She said she didn’t know a lot about the award beforehand, but appreciated the attention it would bring to her program.

“It’s really nice for [the ROTC program] to get extra visibility, because I think a lot of people just see the uniforms and marching and that’s it,” she said. “I think a lot more of what we do is leadership training and service.”  

Next year, Cunningham will be entering a pilot training program.

Toledo was also heavily involved in campus life.

“I am an intern in Campus Ministry … I worked specifically in multicultural ministry,” she said. “So I would plan all the events there that would happens like Día De Los Muertos or like Spanish Mass. So that kind of like got me involved in little things on campus and stuff.”

Toledo also said she was part of the Notre Dame’s dual-degree program with Saint Mary’s and involved in a number of Latino student clubs. She said she found it nice to be recognized, though she did not expect to receive the award.

“I don’t really expect recognition with what I’m involved with and with what I help [with], and just doing the things that I love on campus, so that was really surprising,” Toledo said. “It was nice, though. It was nice to know that people are like acknowledging what I’m doing and recognizing that I’m putting full energy into the things that I do.”

Next year, Toledo plans to work in Honduras.

“In August, I’ll be  moving to Honduras for a year and a half to teach in an orphanage,” Toledo said. “I’m really excited, I think it’ll be a nice break just between the next thing that I’ll do.”

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