Leading — with distinction

Mount Holyoke News staff pose with their prize for excellence in programming (from left): Zoe Zeligman ’19, Risha Dewan ’18, Lindsey McGinnis ’18 and Emily Blomquist ’18.

By Kathleen Mellen

Teaching students to lead with distinction is an integral part of Mount Holyoke College’s mission. As part of that historic legacy of leadership, the annual Student Leadership and Service Awards gives student public recognition for the roles they have assumed this year — on campus and off. 

This year’s awards, given to 64 students and student organizations, were presented in mid-April in a festive, late-afternoon ceremony in Chapin Auditorium. In attendance were faculty, staff, families, community members and other students. Judging by the raucous applause that greeted the winners as they approached the stage, the work they have done is greatly appreciated by the community they have worked to champion. 

“There’s real value in your stepping up,” Acting President and President-elect Sonya Stephens said in her welcoming remarks. “It makes a difference in lives of individuals and institutions when students take ownership, not only of their own learning, but of their own values and ideas, and commit to playing a greater role in decision-making and the change process.” 

Leadership does not exist independently of mission, Stephens noted. “I was struck by the many ways in which your endeavors reflect on Mount Holyoke’s mission and values.”

Those honored were among some 180 students nominated in November by their peers, as well as by staff, faculty and alumnae, and chosen by a selection committee. The awards recognized a wide range of excellence — from outstanding academic work and the promotion of diverse and inclusive communities, to raising awareness of global concerns and offering critical peer support and counseling. 

“We think of leadership as working toward a common purpose and seeking transformation in our world,” said Alicia Erwin, assistant dean and director of student programs. “These students — not just the winners, but the nominees, as well — have a high commitment to building community for their peers, and for everyone on campus.” 

Avery Allen ’20, an American studies major, received the Emerging Leader Award, established in 2017 to recognize students in their first or second year at the College who have shown leadership promise through their contributions to student life and community-building. Amelia Green ’20, Penelope Dutton ’20 and Rebecca Piperno ’20 also received the award. 

Allen worked this year as a community advisor in the Office of Residential Life, for the Spanish Living-Learning Community, and as co-chair of C.A.U.S.E. (Creating Awareness and Unity for Social Equality), a project administered through the College’s Community-Based Learning program that connects students with community service opportunities throughout the Pioneer Valley. She is also an ambassador for the Weissman Center for Leadership

“Winning this a great honor and I’m so excited about it,” Allen said. And though she will be studying in Cuba during the fall semester, she’s looking forward to jumping back into a leadership role when she returns to campus, she said. 

“Mount Holyoke has helped me develop leadership skills that go beyond that traditional concept of the singular woman at the front of the room, wearing a blazer,” Allen said. “Mount Holyoke really breaks the stereotype of women being forced to compete with one another. Instead, friendship and support are cultivated on campus.” 

A global perspective 

Julia Kellerbauer ’18, an international relations and economics double major, received the Global Engagement Award, given by the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives to a student who has demonstrated outstanding commitment to raising campus awareness of critical global issues. 

Through her work in helping to create the Mount Holyoke International Affairs Association, a student organization that meets weekly to discuss topics of global interest, Kellerbauer has helped to build a community of students interested in international relations, regardless of their majors. She also organized a talk on campus about the rise of the right in Europe in the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election in the United States. 

“A good leader is someone who leads from behind — someone who is not interested in pushing their own position or driving an agenda,” Kellerbauer said. “What is great about Mount Holyoke is that every person, faculty and staff, is interested in every individual’s advancement. They have a vested interest in every single student and want to bring about their highest achievement.” 

Indeed, Stephens said, Mount Holyoke strives to put students at the center of their learning, and to provide them with the support needed to become leaders, which she defined as “individuals capable of envisioning a better society, and to act to create the conditions of a better society.” 

She told those gathered, “As you think of your own trajectory, about your own voices and commitments, and your future aspirations, I hope you will consider your Mount Holyoke experiences as part of this call to leadership.” 


Winners of the H. Elizabeth Braun Catalyst for Change Award pose with their certificates (from left): Epyana Smith ’18, Heaven Hodge ’18 and Anne Demosthene ’18.

The complete list of honorees 

Sarah Williston Prize
This award is given to the students with the highest grades in their class who ranked as Sarah Williston Scholars their sophomore or junior year.

Caley S. Butler ’18
Clare Collins ’19
Yian Ding ’19
Stella Grill-Dubois ’19
Eveline-Adele Halpert ’19
Yewon Lee ’20
Madison Leighty ’19
Leyi Li ’19
Yezi Liu ’19
Jasmine McCloskey ’19
Gargi A. Mishra ’18
Siobhan S. Norman ’18
Alondra Reyes ’18
Kyra Seiger ’19
Kathleen Smith ’18
Jaemarie Solyst ’19
Mackenzie Stratton ’19
Yinzhi Xu ’18 

Anna C. Edwards Prize for Excellence in Debate
This award honors students who have demonstrated a commitment to promoting debate on campus.

Kasandra Dillon ’18
Kimberly Foreiter ’19 

Community Advisor of the Year Award
This award is presented to the Community Advisor who best fulfilled the spirit as well as the letter of their position over the previous academic year. They have demonstrated excellence in programming, role-modeling care for others and building up their staff, building and campus community. 

Alondra Reyes ’18 

Distinguished Student Organization Award
This award honors recognizes student organizations and their distinguished level of contribution to the Mount Holyoke community through planned events and programs on campus.

International Student Organizing Committee

Emerging Leader Award
This award honors students in their first or second year at the College who show leadership promise through their contributions to student life and community building.

Avery Allen ’20
Penelope Dutton ’20
Amelia Green ’20
Rebecca Piperno ’20 

Excellence in Programming Award
This award recognizes a student organization or committee for its exceptional creativity, planning and execution of a campus-wide program.

Mount Holyoke News

Frances Harriet Williams Class of 1919 Award
Established in 1981 by the family of Frances H. Williams, class of 1919, this award is presented to a student who passionately pursues their goal of academic excellence, social justice or service to others. 

Jaleh McTeigue ’18

Frances Perkins Community Fellow Award 

Rosalie Sligar FP’18 

Also honored was the community partner with whom the student collaborated: MotherWoman

Global Engagement Award
This award is given in recognition of students who have demonstrated outstanding commitment to raising awareness on campus of critical global issues, awarded by the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives

Julia Kellerbauer ’18

Golden Lyon Award
This award is given in recognition of students who have positively influenced a program or organization from behind the scenes with a positive attitude, a willingness to help in whatever capacity necessary and a commitment to excellence.

Zohar Berman ’20
Uswa Iqbal ’18
Sheila (Shay) McIntosh ’18
Sarah Olsen ’18

Helen Warren Smith Class of 1908 Award
Established in 1979 by Helen Warren Smith, class of 1908, this award honors a student whose interest, involvement and service to the Mount Holyoke College community have been outstanding.

Camille Gladieux ’18

H. Elizabeth Braun Catalyst for Change Award
This award was established by the Office of the Dean of Students in 2010 to recognize leaders who have done extraordinary work creating a diverse and inclusive community.

Anne Demosthene ’18
Heaven Hodge ’18
Epyana Smith ’18 

Karen Snyder Sullivan Memorial Travel Award
This award provides assistance for a student who has not previously traveled abroad to plan a trip that satisfies their curiosity and heightens their awareness of other cultures.

Zahida Sheikh ’19

Kelly Sottile Community Service Award
This award honors a student who demonstrates a high level of personal commitment to the community beyond the campus.

Rosalyn Leban ’18 

Mary Lyon Award
This award is given to a young alumna who has been out of the College 15 years or less who demonstrates promise or sustained achievement in her life, profession or community consistent with the humane values that Mary Lyon exemplified in her life and inspired in others.

Nayantara Gurung Kakshapati ’05
Suchi Saria ’04
Chloe Zhao ’05 

Maurice L. Rabbino Award
This award was established in 1978 by Irma L. Rabbino, class of 1953, to honor her father by recognizing a student who has made a significant contribution to the life of Mount Holyoke College.

Abena Danso-Manu ’19 

MoZone Community Builders Award
This award recognizes the student organization that has done extraordinary work to create a diverse and inclusive community.

Shirley Chisholm Living-Learning Community 

Outstanding Service Award
This award is given in recognition of a student for their service and commitment to the Office of Residential Life throughout their time at the College.

Lyssi Joseph ’18 

Sally Montgomery Award
This award is given each year to a student or students whose community involvement exhibits a true union of student learning and community needs.

Sydney Jacobs Allen ’18
Violeta Alvarez ’19
Merlynn Pierre ’18
Nicole Villacres ’18

Honored with these students were the community partners with whom they collaborated:   

Holyoke Public Schools: Connections After-School Program (Sydney Jacobs Allen)
Pa'lante Holyoke High School Restorative Justice Program (Violeta Alvarez)
Homework House After-School Program (Merlynn Pierre)
Springfield No One Leaves (Nicole Villacres)

Senior Community Advisor of the Year Award
This award is presented to the Senior Community Advisor who has excelled in all areas of their position over the previous academic year. Their supervision skills, ability to handle difficult situations and the relationships they have built among their staff and building have made them a role model to the Mount Holyoke community.

Christina Elder ’18

Student Leadership and Service Award
This award honors students who have consistently given their time, energy and talents to promote positive change and growth in the Mount Holyoke community, and in so doing have motivated others to do the same.

Ellen Attipoe ’19
Lillia Baird ’18
Ioanna Deni ’19
Uswa Iqbal ’18
Millie Koong ’18
Ariya Lawson ’18
Joud Mar'i ’19
Valerie Montesino ’19
Miesha Moss ’19
Anna Zheng ’18 

Weissman Center for Leadership Award for Excellence
This award honors students who have demonstrated leadership across campus, with a particular commitment to Weissman Center for Leadership activities and events.

Shanza Noeen ’18
Sonia K. Mohammadzadah ’18
Sofia E. Rivera ’18 

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