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Student Life Awards

Student Life Awards Recipients

Congratulations 2009 Student Life Award Recipients!!

As part of the 2009 Student Leader Recognition Week, we're proud to feature student leaders from across campus who were nominated and won various leadership awards for their contributions to and leadership of the University community. These students/student groups were nominated by their peers, faculty and staff and were selected from outstanding candidate pools. We congratulate them and all of our award nominees and thank them for their accomplishments during the past year!!

Donald L. McCullough Leadership Award
Charlayne McStay

Recipient: Charlayne McStay
Charlayne, a Chemistry and Human Rights major, is an active leader on campus. In addition to being an Honors student, Charlayne is a member of the Global Leadership Commission, a Leadership Legacy Student, an International Orientation Leader, a Husky Ambassador Program Coordinator, and has done extensive research in the field of chemistry. In August, Charlayne will begin her graduate work at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine.

Brian Banville

Finalist: Bryan Banville
Bryan, majoring in Physiology and Neurobiology, was a member of the 2008 Leadership Legacy cohort and is the Chair and Alternative Spring Break Coordinator on the Community Outreach Executive Board. This past March he led the University’s first trip to South Dakota to raise awareness of Native American culture. Bryan is also the President of the a cappella group Extreme Measures. Through Extreme Measures, he has provided service to causes such as Relay for Life, Shriners Hospital, and Habitat for Humanity. Bryan also works as a driver for Community Outreach.

Devorah Donnell

Finalist: Devorah Donnell
Devorah is the founding President of the UConn Pre-Med Society and is a Biological Sciences major. During her time as president, she was instrumental in bringing fifteen well known speakers to campus for lectures. Devorah is known to her peers as a true leader and someone who helps others attain their full leadership potential. She volunteers every week at the Migrant Farm Workers’ Clinic, and this year she served as the Pre-Medical Society President-Emeritus and Community Service Chair. Devorah also helped develop the UConn En Pointe Ballet Club.

Christopher Ferraro

Finalist: Christopher Ferraro
Christopher, a History major, has been a Community Assistant in the Towers Residence Complex for many years. His former and current supervisors hold Christopher in high regard describing him as extremely responsible, reliable, and a pleasure to work with. This past year, Christopher also served as a Peer Leadership Instructor working with fellow student leaders to facilitate a Leadership Seminar for first and second year students. Chris has also served as the Undergraduate Student Government Senator representing the students who live in Towers.

Shahista Ramanand

Finalist: Shahista Ramanand
With a major in Allied Health Sciences, Shahista has been involved in many community service activities including the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund, the Kwazulu-Natal Network on Violence Against Women, as well as AIDS organizations such as Hillcrest AIDS Center and the African National Congress of South America. She is currently the first undergraduate chair of the 100 years of Women Scholarship committee and is a board member on the Women’s Center Advisory Board. She has continuously participated in the Women’s Studies Conference and has served as a liaison for the UConn Honors Study Abroad Program. Shahista is currently serving as the coordinator of a social activism project as well.

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Edward Victor Gant Undergraduate Scholarship
Elisabeth Werling

Recipient: Elisabeth Werling
Elisabeth, a student majoring in Special Education, is a student-employee at the Center for Disabilities and has worked her way up to being a Disability Services Assistant, working as a paraprofessional. Elisabeth was nominated to be a Fellow with the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators and was the only University of Connecticut student selected to participate in the organization’s summer leadership institute at the University of Redlands. She has been inducted into many prestigious groups on and off campus, including the highly selective Leadership Legacy Experience, and was also recognized as a New England Scholar.

James Bosse

Finalist: James Bosse
This year, James applied to the UConn Graduate School to earn his doctorate in Material Science Engineering (MSE). In May, James will graduate with the highest grade point average in his major while simultaneously earning the outstanding senior award from the School of Engineering. He has been a tutor for the Materials Advantage Student Chapter and has been the Scholarship and Tutoring Chair for Materials Advantage. He has co-authored four publications and was the lead author and presenter at two national conferences in his discipline. James was also named the lead tutor for the School of Engineering’s student tutoring services.

Joseph Fournier

Finalist: Joseph Fournier
Joseph, majoring in Chemistry, has worked extensively with the Undergraduate Research Apprenticeship Program. His projects have included studying molecular structures, measuring minute chemical changes, and performing complex calculations relating to chemical interactions. In the future, he plans to add a minor in physics and math as well. He was honored as a Goldwater Scholar and serves on Professor Bohn’s microwave spectroscopy research group. Joseph also participates in many community activities and is an Eagle Scout.

Edward Victor Gant Graduate Scholarship
Smriti Prabhakar

Recipient: Smriti Prabhakar
Smriti is a doctoral student in Management in the School of Business. As such, she is responsible for teaching classes in which she spends a great deal of time and energy putting together lectures, online discussions, and presentations. Her teaching style has been described by her students as special, caring, and influential. Finally, Smriti has also made several presentations to the Academy of Management and the Strategic Management Society.

Shelbi Cole

Finalist: Shelbi Cole
Shelbi is a second year doctoral student in the Educational Psychology department, focusing on gifted and talented education. Shelbi is considered a leader in her field, consistently demonstrating an ability to balance home life and work. Shelbi balances the demands of parenting while attending school full-time, and working 20 hours per week as a graduate researcher. Shelbi has also served as a reviewer/consultant for various math curriculum development companies around the country.

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Emerging Leaders Award
Stephen Pelletier

Recipient: Stephen Pelletier
Stephen is a first year student, majoring in Political Science and living in the Leadership Learning Community. Last semester he worked with Congressman Joe Courtney and his campaign. This spring he was selected as a member for Husky Outreach for Leadership Development, Understanding, and Pride! (HOLDUP!), a leadership development initiative serving high school students. Stephen is a member of the College Democrats, Amnesty International, and started the UConn Youth in Politics organization. He also volunteers at a local elementary school.

Jennifer Chevinsky

Finalist: Jennifer Chevinsky
Jennifer, an individualized major, is the founder of the Debate Team and co-founder of the Philosophy Club on campus. The Debate Team is a member of the American Parliamentary Debate Association, which also consists of schools such as Harvard, Yale, Stanford, and UPenn, as well as many other private institutions. In fact, the UConn Debate Team is one of the few public universities that participate in this organization. Jennifer has also served as a First Year Experience mentor.

Ronald Liu

Finalist: Ronald Liu
Ronald, a Marketing major, started his UConn career as an event coordinator of the first Asian-interest fraternity in the state, Pi Delta Psi. He is president of the Chinese Undergraduate Students Association and helped plan the first annual Styles of Asia fashion show. He is involved with the Asian American Students Association as co-political chair and is the current treasurer of Pi Delta Psi. Ronald is also a mentor with Killingly Uconn Bridging Education and the Asiantation Mentoring programs.

Hema Mistry

Finalist: Hema Mistry
Hema is a transfer student from the Stamford campus, majoring in Finance. She is a representative on the Dean of Students Community Standards Peer Review Board, a Peer Leadership Instructor, and a Student Engagement Ambassador in the Department of Student Activities. She enjoys volunteer work and has volunteered for Relay for Life and worked with middle school students at the Yerwood Center in Stamford. She was Treasurer of the Student Government while at Stamford and also found time to institute a yearly winter formal dance at the Stamford Campus.

Laura Osborne

Finalist: Laura Osborne
Majoring in Marketing, Laura is involved with Kappa Alpha Theta as the Alumnae Relations/Foundation Liaison and is also a member of GAMMA (Greeks Advocating Mature Management of Alcohol). Next fall, Laura will be the Vice President of Programming on the Student Union Board of Governors’ Executive Committee (SUBOG). She has also volunteered for Husky Reads, chaired the Homecoming Committee, and the SUBOG Major Weekends Committee.

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Individual Husky Pride Award
Mary Santella

Recipient: Mary Santella
Mary, majoring in Accounting, has been described as a “traditions keeper” at the University and works as an Alumni Relations Coordinator as part of the Student Alumni Association. She was instrumental in putting the lyrics to the University’s fight song on the jumbo screens in Gampel and the XL Center during basketball games. Mary also volunteers at the Husky Pride Tent before every football game and is a member of the Student Union Board of Governors, Beta Alpha Psi and the Accounting Society.

Eric Bouchard

Finalist: Eric Bouchard
Eric, an Economics majors, is the Sports Promotion Chairperson for the Student Union Board of Governors (SUBOG), and works to recruit and retain members for the Sports Promotion Committee. He hosted the first ever College of Liberal Arts and Sciences quad tailgate before the Huskies’ home football game against Baylor. He coordinated the Husky Road Show and has coordinated the transportation of over 8,000 students to UConn football games. Eric also participated in the planning for the March Madness events for our men’s and women’s basketball teams.

Linda Drozdowicz

Finalist: Linda Drozdowicz
Majoring in Molecular and Cell Biology, Linda is part of the Honors Program and chair of its Academic Committee. Additionally, Linda was admitted to the Combined Program in Medicine after her freshman year and was recognized as an Emerging Leader that year. Linda was also selected as a 2008 member of the Leadership Legacy Experience. She has done volunteer work at the Migrant Farm Workers’ Clinic, serves as the Assistant Musical Director of the a cappella group Rubyfruit, and is the co-founder of the Pre-Medical Society on campus.

Benjamin Gruenbaum

Finalist: Benjamin Gruenbaum
Majoring in Psychology, Benjamin has been a Community Assistant since 2006. He has helped to lead such programs as the Jewish Students Association’s Freshman Outreach Program and a Gift for Life bone marrow drive. He won the UConn Video Commercial Competition in 2007, and is a supplemental instruction leader for a general psychology class. Benjamin has tutored for the Counseling Program for Intercollegiate Athletes (CPIA) and has been an Undergraduate Teaching Assistant for an interdepartmental class. He was also a part of the First Year Experience program as a mentor, the executive board at Hillel, the UConn Pre-Medical Society, Phi Beta Kappa, and Golden Key.

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Individual Community Service Award
Melissa Marsh

Recipient: Melissa Marsh
Melissa, an Accounting major, is a Student Engagement Ambassador in the Department of Student Activities. She also has participated in the Community Outreach Conversation Partners Program and has been the Program Director for the middle school mentoring program at Horace Porter School. Melissa has also worked extensively with Give Kids the World, an organization that gives the families of children with life threatening illnesses a free visit to the attractions in central Florida.

Valen Diaz

Finalist: Valen Diaz
With an individualized major, Valen is a member of the Honors Council and Chair of the Community Service Committee. She helped organize an alternative spring break trip to Mississippi last year and assisted with another trip to New Orleans this year. She is involved in the Honors Council Relay for Life Committee and has coordinated another community service day. Valen, a University Leadership Legacy Student, has also volunteered at Generations Family Health Center, worked with high school students in Hartford, and spent time in the Dominican Republic on a UConn service learning trip.

Devorah Donnell

Finalist: Devorah Donnell
Devorah is the founding President of the UConn Pre-Med Society and is a Biological Sciences major. During her time as president, she was instrumental in bringing fifteen well known speakers to campus for lectures. Devorah is known to her peers as a true leader and someone who helps others attain their full leadership potential. She volunteers every week at the Migrant Farm Workers’ Clinic, and this year she served as the Pre-Medical Society President-Emeritus and Community Service Chair. Devorah also helped develop the UConn En Pointe Ballet Club.

Samantha Grayeck

Finalist: Samantha Grayeck
Samantha, a Communication Sciences major, has been a Community Assistant in North Campus for the past three years. She has worked at Head Start in Vernon and is a Program Director for Jumpstart, overseeing over 40 Jumpstart volunteers. Samantha is also the current president of the Ambassadors in the Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Services (AOD).

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Building Community Award
Jonathan Schreiber

Recipient: Jonathan Schreiber
Jonathan, a Community Assistant majoring in English and Political Science, has been responsible for the planning and production of many organized events on campus such as the Fall Favorites Desserts Spectacular and a lecture with Professor Ronald Mallet titled “Time Traveler.” He is the captain of the Men’s and Co-Recreational Intramural Basketball teams and is a member of the Law and Business Society, the Writing and Literature Club, and the Honors Program. Jonathan is also a New England Scholar, a Babbidge Scholar, and a finalist for the Stallman Scholarship.

Eric Weinstein

Finalist: Eric Weinstein
Majoring in Political Science, Eric is an active member of the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity and serves as the Inter-Fraternity Council (IFC) President, this year setting a goal to increase participation within the fraternal Community. He was responsible for creating new programs and initiatives to attract students. Last fall, Eric created two more leadership positions to help with event programming. Because of his leadership, IFC received the Council Management Award at the Northeast Greek Leadership Association’s Annual Conference – the first time UConn IFC has been recognized in this manner.

Student Multicultural Award
Kristine Din

Recipient: Kristine Din
Kristine, majoring in Molecular and Cell Biology, is an active member of the Philippine American Association of Connecticut, a Youth Dance Troupe member, and has served annually as a counselor at Camp Mabuhay, a culture camp for families who have adopted children of Philippine heritage. She’s also been heavily involved with the Big Brother/Big Sister mentoring program where she is now a team leader for the group. She is a part of a trio of coordinators for the Asiantation Mentoring Program and assists the related interdepartmental leadership class. Kristine has been repeatedly elected as the President of the Filipino American Students Association and this past January she devoted her time to helping hurricane victims of Galveston, Texas.

Shahista Ramanand

Finalist: Shahista Ramanand
With a major in Allied Health Sciences, Shahista has been involved in many community service activities including the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund, the Kwazulu-Natal Network on Violence Against Women, as well as AIDS organizations such as Hillcrest AIDS Center and the African National Congress of South America. She is currently the first undergraduate chair of the 100 years of Women Scholarship committee and is a board member on the Women’s Center Advisory Board. She has continuously participated in the Women’s Studies Conference and has served as a liaison for the UConn Honors Study Abroad Program. Shahista is currently serving as the coordinator of a social activism project as well.

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Organization Community Service Award
HOLDUP!

Husky Outreach for Leadership Development, Understanding, and Pride (HOLDUP!)
Husky Outreach for Leadership Development, Understanding, and Pride! (HOLDUP!), is a student led program where members travel to area high schools and work with students on their leadership development, civic engagement, and citizenship. With a common theme of personal leadership, the workshops and activities focus on effective communication, conflict resolution, ethical decision making, and other important topics. The workshops include discussions and active reflections that engage these often at risk high school students and provide them with a framework for success.

Student Organization Advocacy Award
PIRG

UConn Public Interest Research Group (PIRG)
UConn Public Interest Research Group (PIRG), is a student funded organization which devotes its time to developing strategies and solutions to deal with global issues including climate change, hunger and homelessness, and education. The organization kicked off last semester with the New Voters Project, in which over 3,000 new voters were registered on campus. UConnPIRG also received the Allison Chase Spirit Award for their weekly volunteer work at the women’s shelter in Hartford.

Program of the Year Award
Political Action Day Committee

Political Action Day Committee
The Political Action Day Committee created an event on the Stamford Campus that grew out of the Get Out the Vote initiative, but became much more. The event was meant to interest, inspire, and motivate students at UConn and the surrounding area to engage in the political process. The committee hosted speeches by U.S. Congressman Jim Himes, State Senator Bob Duff, Former U.S. Congressman Christopher Shays, and Green Party Candidate Richard Duffy. The event was attended by over 100 people, who also registered to vote, and was featured on the local Channel 12 News, El Sol, and in the New York Times.

Spirer/Dueker Student Humanitarian Achievement Award
Joseph Antelmi

Joseph Antelmi
Joseph is part of the Model United Nations at UConn and is majoring in Economics and Psychology. As a sophomore, he assumed a leadership position with UConn Public Interest Research Group where he planned and implemented their first conference on hunger. The following summer, he worked as an Opportunity and Prosperity intern with the Connecticut Association for Human Services. In his junior year he became a Teaching Assistant for Dr. Mark Overmeyer Velasquez. Joseph has spent time working with the First Year Experience Program and is a member of the University’s Leadership Legacy Experience. He is also on the board of directors for End Hunger Connecticut!

Emily Blandford

Emily Blandford
Emily, a Communication Sciences major, was involved with the Violence Against Women Prevention Program (VAWPP) and was a featured presenter in a program called “Unite” to the Pan-Hellenic Sororities on campus. This program aimed to foster tolerance and encourage unity among individuals on campus. She is also a member of Sexperts, works with the Rainbow Center’s Speakers Bureau, and is a trained Husky Handler with the Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity. Emily has also spent time volunteering in New York fighting HIV/AIDS and at the Rockville, Connecticut Homeless Shelter. In addition to all these roles, she is a Community Assistant and works at the Student Union as a Technology Assistant.

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Husky Pride Award
SUBOG

Student Union Board of Governors (SUBOG)
The Student Union Board of Governors (SUBOG) is responsible for campus wide student events at UConn and hosts musicians, comedians, lecturers, and many other presenters. The organization also plans major weekends and events like Husky WOW, Homecoming, Winter Weekend and more. The members of SUBOG work extremely hard to make the college experience more enjoyable.

Student Organization Advisor Award
Chelsea Rayome

Recipient: Chelsea Rayome
Chelsea, a graduate student in the Higher Education Student Affairs program, is one of the advisors for the first year honor society, Alpha Lambda Delta (ALD), one of the largest and most active student organizations on campus. As advisor to ALD, Chelsea has helped sharpen the scope of the organization and has provided important insight and support to this quickly expanding student group. Chelsea is also the Peer Education Coordinator in the First Year Programs Office and works with students and staff in over 30 peer education programs across campus.

George Gibson

Finalist: George Gibson
Dr. Gibson has been a strong advocate of student activities for nearly 15 years. In the past, he has advised the Ninjistu Club, the Electronic Collective, and the Tap Club. He is the current advisor of the Ballroom Dance Team, a role he has had for the past six years. This particular group has approximately 300 members and like many organizations on campus, faces the challenges of scarce resources. Dr. Gibson has been a strong advocate in the search for more meeting space for the Ballroom Dance team and other student organizations.

Outstanding Graduate Assistant/Teacher's Assistant of the Year Award
Katherine Etter

Recipient: Katherine Etter
Katherine is a Community Assistant in the Northwest Complex and a Teaching Assistant for a Bio-Medical Engineering class. She directly teaches six sections and oversees fifteen lab sections, enrolling a total of over one-hundred students. In addition, she is also responsible for overseeing five sophomores who serve as her lab assistants. Katherine has offered her services to mentoring her students at any given time and has made impromptu mini lessons for students who need help completing homework assignments. She has devoted herself to keeping her lab assistants up-to-date and guiding them with future decisions.

Mark Oliver

Recipient: Mark Oliver
Mark, pursuing his doctorate in Educational Psychology, has worked with the Global House Learning Community since its inception while serving as a Teaching Assistant for the many courses taught to those in the community. Mark stands out in his duties as a Teaching Assistant because he prepares lectures with great anticipation and with future assessments in mind. He keeps in constant contact with his students by following up with them and taking time out to help those that need extra help.

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Matthew B. Schechter Scholarship
Christopher Martin

Christopher Martin
Christopher, a Political Science major, is part of the Jumpstart Program which helps area pre-school children with literacy development. He is editor of the student human rights journal on campus, NAMASTE (Hindi word meaning the spirit in me meets the same spirit in you). In addition to this, Christopher volunteers at soup kitchens and is a member of a social justice punk band.

Peer Educators of the Year (3 Recipients)
Juan Carmona

Juan Carmona
Junior, Resource Economics and Spanish
Program Nomination: Leadership Legacy
Other Peer Education Involvement: FYE Mentoring, Husky Outreach Leadership Developing, Understanding and Pride! (HOLDUP!), Mentoring, Education, and Training for Academic Success (METAS) Program, Learning Community Community Assistant

Juan is determined to make a positive impact on his community by challenging those around him to be better and adding his amicable demeanor, authentic leadership and honest interactions to each program he is involved in. Even though Juan is a Co-founder of HOLDUP!; peer mentor for M.E.T.A.S. and FYE; and a Community Assistant, he is very humble of his accomplishments and never looking for recognition.

Samantha Grayeck

Samantha Grayeck
Senior, Communication Disorders and Sociology
Program Nomination: Jumpstart
Other Peer Education Involvement: AOD Ambassador President, Community Assistant

Through her years of experience as a Peer Educator, Samantha has continually taken on more responsibility by developing programs for AOD deriving from researching she conducted, by becoming an Assistant Hall Director, and by leading groups of students through training as the Director of Jumpstart. Samantha is described as having a “tremendous ability to connect to her peers and influence positive behaviors.” She has a passion for helping others and is always the first to help out.

Vu Tran

Vu Tran
Junior, Business Administration Accounting
Program Nomination: Sexperts
Other Peer Education Involvement: Violence Against Women Prevention Program Facilitator, UConn Connects, Peer Leadership Instructor, FYE Mentoring, Queers United Against Discrimination, Rainbow Center Speakers’ Bureau

Vu’s commitment to Peer Education has been far reaching and multidimensional. Whether he is preparing panelist to share very personal coming out stories in the Rainbow Center, creating new ways to deliver information as a PLI, or writing a Sexpert Conduct Code, Vu’s dedication and energy are inspiring and constant. Vu is also very active in social justice through education and is truly concerned about student learning and the leadership development of his peers.

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