In the elegance of the Charles Hotel Regatta Bar, members of the Harvard community gathered to honor the recipients and nominees of the 13th annual Harvard College Leadership Awards.
The main award went to Eva Z. Lam ’10, former president of the Harvard College Democrats, and an honorable mention was presented to Andrea R. Flores ’10, former president of the Undergraduate Council.
“Both students being honored tonight made a difference by standing up to traditions that say that women don’t typically run high-profile political organizations,” said Susan B. Marine, Women’s Center director and assistant dean of student life at the College.
Marine said that through their work, Lam and Flores have helped to refute the claims of individuals who still see women’s involvement in politics as less than integral to democracy.
“These young women’s achievements paint a formidable picture of what it means to truly lead: making the voices of others—especially those not always at the table—more vividly heard, and their hopes and dreams more possible,” Marine said.
As the audience stood to applause, Lam proceeded to the podium.
“I didn’t know I was that awesome until that fabulous introduction,” quipped Lam, who said that Flores’ friendship and advice had been instrumental in her own role on campus.
Lam said that she did not want to talk broadly about leadership, but about getting things done.
“As a leader, if you want to get people to do hard work for you, you have to be willing to put that much work in as well,” Lam said.
A leader must be willing to take on grunt work and find a common goal when working with others to promote unity within the group, Lam said.
Women leaders, she added, face a particular challenge because they are often not given the benefit of the doubt without having to prove themselves first.
“I will never accept the argument that women are inherently less capable or even differently capable than men,” Lam said.
After the students were honored, the Women’s Center presented the Women’s Professional Leadership Award to Anne L. Garrels ’72, who served as a foreign correspondent in the former Soviet Union, Afghanistan, and Iraq.
Garrels ascended the podium with humility following an introduction that listed the numerous awards she had accumulated over the years for her work.
“I am such a late developer compared to Eva and Andrea,” said Garrels, adding that the undergraduate pair had presented a hard act to follow.
Garrels, who had lacked a definitive career path after graduation, said that even people without specific plans for the future should dedicate themselves to their passions.
“To those of you who don’t know what you’re going to do after graduating,” Garrels said, “one thing does lead to another, and you should never feel defeated.”
—Staff writer Alice E.M. Underwood can be reached at email@example.com.