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The Office of Student Life honored undergraduates and student organizations for their achievements and contributions to the College at the second annual Student Leadership Recognition Awards ceremony on Monday.
Despite torrential rain, College administrators and undergraduates gathered in the Student Organization Center at Hilles to honor eight individuals and three student organizations. These student leadership awards are part of the OSL’s “leadership development” initiative launched last year.
Many students were candidates for the three individual categories—Emerging Leader, Spirit of Harvard College, and Senior Veritas— and six student organizations were nominated for the three group categories—Collaboration, Innovation, and Inclusive Community Awards. A selection committee consisting of Undergraduate Council representatives and College administrators chose the winners.
This year, Jackson C. Walker ’21, Maya Jenkins ’21, and Meena Venkataramanan ’21, a Crimson news comper, were awarded the Thomas A. Dingman Emerging Leader Awards—newly named this year in honor of retiring Freshman Dean Thomas A. Dingman ’67— an award specifically for freshmen leaders.
“Freshmen are not often in titled positions of leadership and so one of our motivations behind the awards in general was just to recognize people who are not formally recognized as leaders,” Dominique J. Erney ’19, who helped develop the event, said. “It was really important to us to reserve a category for freshmen.”
Both Venkataramanan and Jenkins said that they were “surprised” to receive the award.
“Being at a ceremony like this and being able to have been nominated for this award and receive this award is something that I never expected,” Venkataramanan said. “I am really grateful to my mentors and my nominators, and also obviously my family.”
Jenkins expressed similar sentiments about receiving the award.
“I was really excited mostly because I didn’t really think of my impact on campus as being notable or noticeable,” Jenkins said. “I feel really honored and I also feel motivated to continue to do more and to try to expand my reach as semesters go forward.”
Gemma Collins ’18, Juliana Rodriguez ’19, Alisha Ukani ’20, and Evan M. Bonsall ’19 received the Spirit of Harvard College Awards, and Nina Srivastava ’18 was awarded the Senior Veritas Award.
“It’s really emotional, I was sitting in the back tearing up as other people were receiving their awards, just thinking about the different ways that students impact Harvard,” Srivastava said. “It’s so humbling to just think about everything that Harvard has meant to me and thinking about seeing that recognized is really, really rewarding.”
Within the three student organization categories, the Harvard College VISION: Global Health Society received the Collaboration Award, the Harvard College South Asian Association received the Inclusivity Award, and MakeHarvard received the Innovation Award.
Alexander R. Miller, associate dean of student engagement, first developed this event last year alongside two undergraduates—Erney and Nicholas J. Albert ’20— who work within the OSL in an effort to acknowledge “the many facets of the mission of the College.”
“These awards are great ways to really acknowledge our students and student organizations while also acknowledging the work that they do that’s aligned with our mission,” Miller said.
Erney, who has been involved in this event since its inception, said that she helped plan the ceremony and was involved in the selection process of the winners.
“It’s always just very awe-inspiring to see people talk about their accomplishments and why their involved in what they are involved in, so that’s probably my favorite part,” she said.
—Staff writer Katherine E. Wang can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @katherineewang.
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