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College Celebrates 165th Commencement May 26

Fulbright Scholarship to Take Jennifer W. Kyker '02 to Zimbabwe

Boram Lee '04 Wins International Public Policy Fellowship

Suchi Saria '04 Wins Full- Tuition Scholarship from Microsoft

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Weissman Center Honors Students

On Broadway with Suzan-Lori Parks '85

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Mount Holyoke College News and Events Vista The College Street Journal Archives

May 24, 2002

Weissman Center Honors Students

Photo: Fred LeBlanc

Weissman 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 pedagogy.

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."

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