Center Honors Students
Photo: Fred LeBlanc
Center codirectors Chris Benfey (left) and Karen Remmler
pose with award winner Lioudmila M. Abramova '02.
On May 8, students
and staff of the Harriet L. and Paul M. Weissman Center for Leadership
(WCL) gathered for a celebration to acknowledge the accomplishments
and contributions of students involved in the Weissman Center's
programs. Lioudmila M. Abramova '02 and Jessica M. Zerges '03
received individual awards, and each student who participated
in WCL programs this year was honored during the evening. Speaking,
Arguing, and Writing (SAW) Program mentors and assistants received
certificates "for excellence in leadership." Certificates
were also given to members of the MHC debate team and students
participating in DEAL, while bamboo plants, signifiying luck and
prosperity, were bestowed upon members of the WCL student advisory
board. Before the WCL awards ceremony, members of the SAW Program
gathered for a festive, final staff meeting of the year. Instituting
what Tamara Burk, director of the SAW Program, hopes will be an
annual ritual, seniors "shared their gifts of wisdom as a
parting gesture with the staff," offering advice, memories,
stories, and poems.
"We often use
the metaphor of a puzzle with many pieces to describe the Weissman
Center," said Christopher Benfey, codirector of the WCL,
at the event. "Sometimes a special student comes along who
shows us how it all fits together." The student Benfey had
in mind is SAW Program mentor Lioudmila M. Abramova '02, this
year's recipient of WCL's award for excellence. Now in its second
year, the award, which carries a $250 prize, recognizes the contributions
of a senior whose commitment to the ideals and goals of the Weissman
Center are demonstrated through passionate and critical engagement
in WCL's programs.
A testament to the
power of the mentoring program, Abramova was herself mentored
by last year's WCL award recipient, Carrie Alme '01. Says Abramova,
"It was a great learning experience. At that point I decided
I wanted to become a mentor and work with a class." The economics
major soon achieved her objective, when she began mentoring students
in Speaking and Arguing: The Rhetoric of Peace and War, a course
taught by Vincent Ferraro, Ruth C. Lawson Professor of Politics.
A member of WCL's student advisory board since her sophomore year
and chair of the group this year, Abramova says she "worked
on events and tried to figure out how to increase the awareness
of students and faculty of the resources the center had to offer."
She was also involved in organizing, along with Alme, the Teach-Back
program that unites faculty and students to discuss classroom
Originally from Saint
Petersburg, Russia, Abramova has been particularly interested
in working with students whose native language is not English.
"I'm really grateful to the people I worked with at the Weissman
Center," says Abramova. "A lot of my job involved helping
people, but I definitely learned so much from the students who
came for help." The next stop for Abramova is New York City,
where she will be working for Morgan Stanley.
Also honored was Jessica
M. Zerges '03, to whom Eric Barnes, visiting assistant professor
of philosophy, debate coordinator, and director of the Debate,
Empowerment, and Leadership (DEAL) Program, presented the Anna
C. Edwards Prize for Excellence in Debate. The award carries a
$250 prize. Barnes cited Zerges's leadership and debate skills,
saying that her skill as a debater had raised the bar for MHC's
debate team. "Jessica energized the team when she came in
as a first-year student," says Barnes. "She got people
excited and made the team more active. She's done a huge amount
of good for the team."