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Nine Notre Dame seniors presented with student leadership awards

| Friday, May 13, 2022

Among all of the high achieving students graduating from the University this year, nine were selected to receive senior leadership awards.

Interim director of Student Activities Office (SAO) Maureen Doyle explained these students demonstrated commitment to their areas of expertise and have gone through a nomination process to be bestowed with this award. 

“Annually, the Student Leadership Awards recognize undergraduate students who best exemplify the spirit of Notre Dame in social, recreational, residential, service and religious activities that promote the welfare of the University and its extended communities,” Doyle said in an email. “Selection of the recipients of Student Leadership Awards is based on outstanding service on or off campus through participation in voluntary, selected and/or elected co-curricular activities with an emphasis on quality of participation.”

One of recipients was Amaya Medeiros. During her time at Notre Dame, she was involved in student government, serving as the director of diversity and inclusion during the Njomo-Bisner administration in the 2021-2022 term. While working in student government, she was a part of the group advocating for the University to fully observer  Martin Luther King Jr. Day, planning the 2021 Race Relations week, bringing ethnic hair products to The Huddle, working with the University Counseling Center (UCC) to create a students of color support group and campaigning for Notre Dame to fly the Potawatomi flag. Medeiros said she did all of her work in an attempt to make the University a better and more inclusive place for the students.

“I feel like when you’re stepping into any sort of leadership role on campus, that everyone has this goal of trying to enhance or better the school climate,” Medeiros said.

Neila Gross is another senior that received this leadership award. She said she also expressed that the work she did was not for her benefit, but as a way to help those around her.

Gross’s work was not centered on campus but during her time abroad. Gross had studied in Rwanda — a time she said was very transformative for her. While abroad, she taught students from grades five through seven.

While she was teaching, she said she found out her students didn’t have any access to the internet. Gross said she started a GoFundMe, where she was able to raise enough money to almost buy the school a new computer lab.

“When I got the award, I started crying,” Gross said. “I’ve spent years volunteering in Africa, and I never do it for myself.”

Alix Basden was also chosen for the award. Basden has spent all four years of her undergraduate work involved in student government —working in FUEL, as a part of the executive cabinet and as a field director. Along with this, Basden took part in the Junior Class Council and acted as president of Howard Hall. Despite having an extensive resume, Basden said she recognizes this is not what she was chosen for. 

“What felt the most valuable about [the award] was that a lot of what they read off about me was more about how I like to get to know people and less about those concrete achievements metrics — GPA, involvement, jobs, internships,” Badsen said. 

Álvaro Carrillo Marcano, another recipient of the leadership award, undertook his work with a similar mindset when co-founding the Puerto Rican Student Association. The club has created a place for Puerto Rican students to come together; as a group, they raise money to help after natural disasters, order authentic Puerto Rician food, host informational panels and more. Carrillo Marcano said he is happy to be able to leave a lasting impact on Notre Dame

“I was more grateful that we’re creating something here that’s gonna last,” Carrillo Marcano said. “We put in the time, and we put in the effort and it was something that really helped us.” 

The other co-founder of the Puerto Rican Student Association, Adolfo Serbia Ortiz, was also recognized with the award. For Serbia Ortiz, he said just wanted to bring awareness of the Puerto Rican community to Notre Dame. Along the way, he said this club benefited him just as much as the Notre Dame community. 

“I enjoy spending time with members of the Puerto Rican community, and it helps me feel closer to home — especially here in South Bend, where it’s way too cold for my taste,” Serbia Ortiz said in an email. 

Marty Kennedy was another student recipient of this award. He expressed his intentions to create an inclusive community and let the mission of Stanford Hall and Irish Gardens be known across the University, not just to a select few. Kennedy has been the general manager of Irish Gardens and an resident assistant (RA) in Stanford Hall this year. He was also involved in Stanford Hall government in the past. 

“[My goal was] to make sure that whoever walks in the doors of Irish Gardens — employee or customer — and whoever walks into Stanford Hall, being a resident or a friend of a resident or a family member of a resident or a random person, [to ensure] we are showing them that same love that we show to others and that so many people showered to me,“ Kennedy said. 

Andre Wilson is another recipient of the award and he said is grateful for the group around him. His main leadership role was acting as president of Wabruda. This club provides a safe space for Black men on campus, and Wilson encourages those who are interested to attend meetings on Sundays. He said he is thankful for the club and all the people within it that gave him guidance along the way. 

“It wasn’t just me doing stuff, so I sent something to my board saying thank you to them, even thank you to all of the group, because without any of them I wouldn’t have gotten the award,” Wilson said. 

Aysha Gibson was also given a student leadership award for her work. This work included being the president of the Notre Dame Medical Observers, working with Self Healing Communities, work with the Center for Social Concerns, interning for the Covenant House New Orleans and being active in the Balfour-Hesburgh Scholars program. Her work is extensive, and she said Notre Dame is the reason she had the ability to go down all of these avenues. 

“I’m passionate about a lot of things,” Gibson said. “I really just try to dip my toes into as many things as possible, and Notre Dame has provided so many opportunities for me to follow these passions.” 

The last award recipient, Anthony Reo, has been recognized with the award after working as the station manager for NDTV. Along with this, he also was involved in the Swing Club and served as an RA in Baumer Hall.

Reo recognized it was a very special feeling to be bestowed with this award. It was never something that he actively sought out, when coming to college he explained that he tried to expand his horizons past the small options he had in high school. Besides this reaction, Reo said was most surprised at the people who came together to nominate him for this award. 

“I think the biggest thing is just how touched I was about the amount of people that worked together on this nomination,” Reo said. 

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