Leadership looks like Mount Holyoke students

The 2020 Student Leadership and Service Awards at Mount Holyoke showcase the importance of leadership at this time and every time.

By Sasha Nyary  

What does student leadership look like at Mount Holyoke? As diverse as the student body. Learning to be a leader is an integral part of every Mount Holyoke education. 

The annual Student Leadership and Service Awards are a chance to celebrate the success of that mission, and to recognize the variations of leadership. 

“In a crisis moment like this, the levels and types of leadership necessary to solve problems, build coalitions and come up with creative solutions become more evident,” said Marcella Runell Hall, dean of students and vice president for student life. “Our students have done remarkable work this year on campus and have had to make so many adjustments on and off campus since March 12. It is perhaps even more important this year that we continue on with this important acknowledgement and celebration of these accomplishments.”

2020 saw an unprecedented number of nominations, which are submitted by students, faculty and staff. Given the circumstances, the announcing of the winners happened virtually on April 23. 

The awards announcements took place over the course of the afternoon, beginning with a greeting from Hall. Following that, Ivonne G. Ramirez-DeBlois, associate director of Student Involvement and Leadership, posted the names of the winners on the MHCStudentLife Instagram account in 15-minute increments. 

Many of the virtual presentations included remarks about the recipients. The nominating committee praised Maliha Rahman ’20, who won the Irma Rabbino Award, by saying, “The long-term effect of their advocacy is more than just the halal station we have today. After these meetings, where they not only had to stand up for the community they represented, but also themselves, they showed the importance of student voice in campuswide decisions.”

The Mary Lyon Award, which is given by the Mount Holyoke College Alumnae Association, was also presented at this ceremony. Two of the recipients expressed their appreciation in videos, Ellen Chmba Chilemba ’17 and May Yang ’10. Due to time constraints, the third, Aleefia Somji, shared her speech via text.

Nearly 2,000 visitors followed the day’s events on Instagram, where Madeline Olson ’20 said, "What a wonderful way to host this now that many are off-campus.” 

The Complete List of Honorees

Included in the following list of names are excerpts from some of the nominations and citations about the award winners. 

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

Moira R. Crawshaw ’21
Hannah R. Knapp-Broas ’21
Yeseung Kwak ’21
Rebekah C. McBane ’21
Margaret H. Minett ’21
Rebecca E. Parker ’21
Daphne I. Williams-Hutfilz ’21
Jiahua Zhang ’21
Eleanor L. Harris ’20
Gabrielle E. Kerbel ’20
Talia J. Michaud ’20
Madeleine R. Olson ’20
Savannah C. Harriman-Pote ’20

Sarah Williston Senior Prize Scholarship
to the top senior, based on performance through the junior year, who ranked as a Sarah Williston Scholar in their sophomore or junior year.

Savannah C. Harriman-Pote '20

Apple Award for Leadership in Campus Sustainability
Honors a student or group of students who have made a significant contribution to campus sustainability and/or have gone above and beyond to help the College to meet its goal of carbon neutrality by 2037. 

MHC Compost Group

Community Advisor of the Year Award
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. 

Skyler C. Odin ’21
“Skyler takes the time to get to know each resident, including their interests, goals, and hobbies. She demonstrates her thoughtfulness and enthusiasm for the CA role through her thoughtful bulletin boards and intentional interactions with students.”

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

MoHealth Peer Health Educators
“PHE’s work has enhanced campus life by creating a safe environment for people to ask sensitive questions, without fear of embarrassment or judgment. They strive to encourage open dialogue about a variety of health issues, keeping in mind the wide range of experiences and comfort levels of others.”

Mount Holyoke College Democrats
“They consistently provide interesting and relevant programming and club meetings, keyed in to the advocacy and job interests of MHC students.”

Emerging Leader 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.

Sarah W. Bishop ’22
Kaila B. Goldstein ‘22
Domenica L. Guaman ’22
Lasya Priya Rao Jarugumilli ’23
Stav R. Keshet ’22
Catriona M. “Cait” Mallery ’22
Elizabeth C. “Liz” Sevigny ’23
Amanda C. Windsor ’22 

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

Association of Pan-African Unity (APAU) 
“Whether it’s the weekly Thursday movie nights, the B.A.M student art exhibit that’s open all of February, or the incredible business expo that hosted local young Black entrepreneurs, this organization has demonstrated immense creativity in executing a series of events that span the entire month of February!” 

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.

Maria Maria Castillo ’20
“Through tutoring at Homework House for three years she has gained the experience and skills needed to know the struggles that Latinx students face in the public educational system. Whenever anyone needs her help, Maria is there willing to give a helping hand.” 

Golden Lyon Award
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. 

Shayn E. Massefski ’21
Faryal F. Mirza ’20
Nabeeha A. Noor ’20
Reina S. Torrez-Miner ’20
Katharine A. “Kate” Turner ’21

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. 

Lilach “Lila” Oren-Dahan ’20
“In every part of Lila’s campus involvement, they have been spearheading initiatives to write down and institutionalize what has been knowledge previously only acquired through in person communication."

H. Elizabeth Braun Catalyst for Change Award
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.  

Zohar Berman ’20
Melissa L. Johnson ’20
Linda D. Zhang ’20

Irma Rabbino Award, in fond memory of Rose and Murray Rabbino
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. 

Maliha T. Rahman ’20
“The long-term effect of their advocacy is more than just the halal station we have today. After these meetings, where they not only had to stand up for the community they represented, but also themselves, they showed the importance of student voice in campus wide decisions.”

Karen Snyder Sullivan Memorial Travel 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. 

Marlayna M. “Layne” McArdle ’22

Kelly Sottile Class of 2008 Community Service Award
Honors a student who demonstrates a high level of personal commitment to the community beyond the campus. 

Katerina A. Alvarez ’20
"Her empathic nature, her burning desire to live a life of impact and meaning, and her courage to address systemic oppression and inequality are extremely powerful forces that have generated healing in the circle of communities she has created. When it comes to describing Katerina, people quite often are at a loss for words to really convey what we’ve come to know as her radically open and resilient spirit.”

Leadership in the Living-Learning Community
Given in recognition of a student for their service and commitment to living-learning communities at the College. 

Faryal F. Mirza ’20
“Faryal has grown from a quiet CA to a leader who is kind, respectful and a role model to all of our student staff members.” 

Mary Lyon Award
Given by the Mount Holyoke College alumnae Association to young alumnae who have been out of the College for 15 years or less who demonstrate promise or sustained achievement in their lives, profession or community that is consistent with the humane values that Mary Lyon exemplified in her life and inspired in others.   

Ellen “Chmba” Chilemba 2017
Aleefia Somji 2009 
May Yang 2010

McCulloch Center Global Engagement Award
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.  

Emma C. Taylor ’20
“Her commitment has enabled many Mount Holyoke students to better communicate across difference and to engage the world as global citizens.” 

International Student Organizing Committee (ISOC)
“We recognize ISOC with the Global Engagement Award for dedicated efforts to fulfill their critical function and for supporting international students during an extraordinarily challenging time at Mount Holyoke.” 

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

First-Generation and Low-Income Partnership (FLIP)
“This year, the First-Generation and Low-Income Partnership has made massive strides in building our community here at Mount Holyoke and crafting programming that acknowledges both members of the community and allies.”

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

Avery R. Allen ’20
“Avery is encouraging and inspires us as a team instead of her needing to fight for her authority, it is almost natural. She commands our attention and respect without the need to harshly/forcibly take it.” 

Marisol Fernandez de Cordova ’20
“Marisol has gone above and beyond to connect students to each other and make certain that the halls feel comfortable, safe and comfortable — to truly make Mount Holyoke a home.”

Sally Montgomery Award
Given each year to a student or students whose community involvement exhibits a true union of student learning and community needs. Honored with these students are the community partners with whom they collaborated.  

Community-based Learning Fellows and Community Partnerships
Elizabeth Tumelo Pratt “Tumi” Moloto ’20 and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hampshire County 
Madeleine E. McDermott ’20 and Homework House 

Community-based Learning Fellows
Emely F. Miniño Soto ’20
Alexandra E. “Lex” Salomone ’20

Community-based Learning Fellows, Frances Perkins Award
Giselle Guillén-Martinez FP’20

Senior Community Advisor of the Year Award
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. 

Kai Chuckas ’20
“Kai is very aware of the ways in which students sometimes put self-care on the back burner and intentionally creates programming to support them in all aspects of health.” 

Student Leadership and Service 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. 

Avery R. Allen ’20
Eloise A. Arnot ’20
Dannye N. Carpenter ’20
Juniper L. Glass-Klaiber ’21
Mahin R. Hasan ’20
Simone A. Jacob ’21
Martha L. Kent ’21
Janae Lewis ’20
Kuzivakwashe V. Madungwe ’21
Michaela R. Ramsey ’20
Clarissa Soma Goncalves Cordeiro FP’21
Maya L. Sopory ’22

Undergraduate Student Employee of the Year
Recognizes the outstanding contributions and achievements of a student who works while attending college. 

Katherine J. “Katie” Kelso ’20
“Katie also won the Northeast Association of Student Employment Administrators’ Student Employee of the Year for Massachusetts.”  

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

Avery R. Allen ’20
Shauna-Kay G. Harrison ’20
Floriane J. “Flori” Needle ’20
Anna Stone ’20