“The Rocky’s” Celebrate Campus Leadership

By Rei Ramos ’15
University Communications

Each spring, the Office of the Dean of Students and the Rochester Center for Community Leadership recognize undergraduate students and organizations that have made significant contributions to campus life. Nominated by faculty, staff, and peers, Student Life Award recipients represent diverse interests, talents, and accomplishments but are united in their strength in leadership, fervor for engagement in campus life, and their aim to be a positive influence on peers, all of which help the campus community become ever better.

This year, the awards, also referred to as the “The Rocky’s,” went to 20 undergraduates and two student organizations. “I think the winners represent a large demographic that follows their passions and gives back to others in all sorts of ways,” said Ed Feldman, associate director of leadership programs at the Rochester Center for Community Leadership and chair of the selection committee. “With over 200 organizations on campus, students have the resources and capacity to be part of something bigger than just themselves,” he added.  Feldman believes that the leadership opportunities on campus provide students with a means to create and promote positive social change in the immediate community and beyond.

2014-04-17_student_life_awards_13303Friends, family, and colleagues of the honorees were invited to an intimate awards reception, which also was attended by University administrators and campus leaders. All the winning students and organizations received engraved glass trophies and certificates.

Japanese Students’ Association was honored as this year’s Outstanding Student Organization. Founded in spring 2013, the group has rounded out its first year with events both cultural and philanthropic. In October, they hosted the Omatsuri Festival, offering the local community a glimpse (and taste) of the breadth of Japanese culture. In the spring, JSA collaborated with the Filipino American Students’ Association to host a Relief Concert to raise funds for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan.

Founding club president and biology major George Iwaoka ’16 said that JSA’s first year was focused and geared towards impactful programming.  The group aims not only to celebrate but also share Japan’s culture with people of all backgrounds. “Our goal is to provide an opportunity for the entire campus community to experience Japanese culture as more than just sushi, anime, or samurai,” said Iwaoka. In the coming years, Iwaoka hopes to see the group grow in size and prominence, comparable to other cultural groups like CSA or ADITI, in order to offer bigger programs and expand their reach.

Freshman Senator and Class Council President Stephen Wegman ‘17 received this year’s Award for Freshman 2014-04-17_student_life_awards_13316Leadership. “I think I learned most from my participation in SA Government,” said Wegman. “As a freshman senator, it can be very difficult to gain the respect of the more experienced senators at the table. By seeing so many diverse examples of effective management, I was able to model my leadership style after those peers who inspired me the most.” Taking after the common idiom, “lead by example,” Wegman hopes to encourage his peers to be more active in civic leadership, as offered by the Students’ Association.

Wegman plans to not only maintain but also increase his involvement with the SA Government in the coming years. “I hope to look back at my undergraduate experience and see my involvements as times of growth through which I helped others.” The 2014 Student Life Award recipients are as follows:

 

Individual Awards:   adulley

Andrew Fried Prize: Kelvin Adulley

Established by friends and family in 1961 in memory of Andrew Norman Fried, class of 1961. This prize is awarded to the man who, upon completion of his freshman year, has shown outstanding qualities of character, superior moral judgment, and interest in serving his fellow students.

 

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Delno Sisson Prize: Yuki Gonzalez

In 1957, this award was established by a gift from Delno Sisson, class of 1966. This prize is awarded annually to the freshman who has shown the most improvement not only in academic work, but also in adjusting to college life and the student body.

 

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Award for Freshman Leadership: Stephen Wegman

This award recognizes an exceptional man or woman of the freshman class who has motivated his or her fellow classmates to become actively involved in the campus community.

 

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Eli & Mildred Sokol Prize: Eudora Dickson

This award was established in 1985 by a gift from Eli and Mildred Sokol, class of 1933. This prize is awarded to a sophomore who has emerged as a leader who can be expected to contribute significantly to the welfare of his or her fellow students in the next two years.

 

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Award for Campus Contributions: Mary Baron (left) and Katherine Wegman (right)

Two awards, one each presented to a junior and senior class member who has made significant contributions to the University community, including, but not limited to, campus life, academic achievement and leadership, and community service. The award winner will have promoted and demonstrated excellence in all aspects of their college experience.

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Seth H. & Harriet Terry Prize: Matias Piva

Established in 1928 as a gift from Seth H. Terry, class of 1883, in memory of his parents. This award is given to the male member of the senior class who, by his industry, character and honorable conduct, has done the most for the life and character of the undergraduate community.

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Percy Dutton Prize: Julian Lunger

This prize was established in 1946 as a gift from Percy Dutton. This award is given to the male member of the graduating class who has excelled in “wholesome, unselfish and helpful influence” among his fellow students.

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Award for Outstanding Fraternity and Sorority Leadership: Harini Morissety

This award recognizes the positive contributions fraternities and sororities make to the campus community. It is awarded to a fraternity or sorority member who has led with integrity within their fraternal organization while also making significant contributions to the greater campus community.

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Simeon Cheatham Award: Madison Wagner

Established in the 1970s by the Office of the Dean of Students to recognize outstanding University of Rochester students. This award is given to a student who has outstanding qualities in devotion to community service and to growth and development of children.

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Rob Rouzer Award for Excellence in Student Government Leadership: Shilpa Topudurti

 

Established in honor of his 28 years of service to the University of Rochester, the Rob Rouzer Award is conferred annually to a student affiliated with either of the three branches of the Students’ Association Government who has shown immense integrity and perseverance in striving to improve student life and welfare

 

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Logan Hazen Award for Outstanding Contributions to Residential Life: Alysha Alani (left) and Barra Madden(right)

This award is given annually to the student who has “made significant contributions to the community and experience of students living in undergraduate residence halls. This student, through his or her actions, leadership, and innovation has promoted community through respect, fairness, and inclusion.”

 

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Award for Athletic Leadership: Lila Cantor

This award recognizes the positive contributions athletes make to the campus community. It is awarded to a student athlete who has demonstrated leadership within their club or varsity sport while also making significant contributions to other aspects of campus life.

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Presidential Award for Community Service: Kyra Bradley

Established by the Dean of Students in 1990 to recognize University students who are committed to community service. Given to a senior for outstanding participation and leadership in service to the community beyond the campus, this award recognizes a student who has worked selflessly and effectively in addressing social causes. Areas of focus include, but are not limited to, improving literacy, reducing hunger and hopelessness, providing legal or medical assistance to the needy, and serving as a mentor.

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Entrepreneurship Award: Harshita Venkatesh

The award for entrepreneurship is given to a student, or group of students, who has turned an idea into a venture that benefited others. The recipient will have demonstrated individual initiative and knowledge through awareness of markets and attention to the needs of others.

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Michael Lowenstein Memorial Award: Alexandra Poindexter

This award, named for Michael Lowenstein, class of 1960 is presented to the University of Rochester River Campus undergraduate who deepens student, faculty, and community awareness of existing social, racial, or political inequities. This undergraduate through his/her words and actions has endeavored to promote the ideals which Michael cherished. Michael sought to give a fresh view of things around us, to focus upon issues, to probe deeply using fact and objectivity and to open a dialogue with the community to find some answers.

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Transfer Student Award: Sophie Rusnock

This award, recognizing the unique role of transfer students to the campus community, is given to a student who transferred with sophomore standing or above, and has completed a full year of study at the University. The recipient will have demonstrated a quick, successful, and seamless transition to the institution and will have taken full advantage of his or her time spent at the University.

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Simeon Cheatham Award: Madison Wagner

Established in the 1970s by the Office of the Dean of Students to recognize outstanding University of Rochester students. This award is given to a student who has outstanding qualities in devotion to community service and to growth and development of children.

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The Communal Principles Award: Jon Macoskey

Established by the Office of the Dean of Students during the 2011-2012 academic year, this award is given annually to the student(s) or organization that best promote(s) the Communal Principals, as adopted by The College. These principles include Fairness, Freedom, Honesty, Inclusion, Respect, and Responsibility. One of these six principles will be highlighted annually and the recipient will have demonstrated qualities that exemplify the principles and/or created programming and activities related to this year’s Communal Principle:Honesty.

 

Student Organization and Programming Awards:

 

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Excellence in Programming: Class Council 2014/Winter Senior Week

This Excellence in Programming Award recognizes a student organization or group, either formal or informal, for its exceptional creativity, planning, and execution of a University program. Criteria upon which decisions are based include appeal to a broad cross-section of the University community, originality, and participation by members of the organization during all phases of the effort.

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Outstanding Student Organization Award: Japanese Students’ Association

Awarded to a student organization that has gone beyond the bounds of their membership by helping to create a positive campus environment for all students.

OMSA: Celebrating Student Achievement for 40 Years

During the 1981-82 academic year,  the newly established Office of Minority Student Affairs (OMSA) was created to provide proactive advising support, initiate programs and serve as a liaison with other departments and divisions of the university to enhance the environment in which minority students at Rochester live and learn.

In 1973, OMSA started a tradition of inviting the graduating seniors that they served along with their families to a dinner on commencement weekend to celebrate their achievements. This tradition has continued, growing each and every year to include more students and families, as well as the broader university community. It has become one of the highlights of the weekend for those involved and it embodies the university’s commitment to support and encourage an increasingly diverse campus community.

During the 2013 dinner, OMSA presented awards to the following seniors: Oladoyin Oladeru, The Francis Price Student Leadership Award; Maxine Humphrey, The Frederick Jefferson Award for Outstanding Student Achievement; Marius Kothor, The Olivia Hooker Academic Achievement Award; Ani Nguyen & Olufemi Watson, The Kesha Atkins Citation for Student Leadership; Adrian Elim, Edward Chafart Award for Civic Engagement. Additionally, the Family Pillar Award, which honors family members of a graduating senior, was given to Marius Kothor’s parents.

A new video shares the history of the OMSA and its senior awards dinner:

Student Mentors Inmates at Local Correctional Facility

By Caitlin Mack ’12 (T5)
Univ. Communications

As a participant in the 2012-2013 Meliora Leaders program, Kelly Scull ’14 is making a difference as a mentor at the Monroe County Correctional Facility. Scull’s program, “Loss to Success,” gives women a sense of hope and direction in dealing with issues like loss of money, job, and home as a result of being incarcerated.

Scull is one of five Meliora Leaders that participates in community service initiatives through the Rochester Center for Community Leadership (RCCL) at the University of Rochester. Meliora Leaders create individualized service projects, allowing them to exercise intensive leadership in the Rochester community for an extended period of time. The program benefits organizations and individuals in need while providing a substantial learning experience for the students involved.

“My goal with this program is to empower at least one woman,” says Scull. “We talk about the effects of loss in their lives, but also about goal-setting.”

The New Hope, Pa., native was inspired to create ”Loss to Success” after participating in “Yes Pa,” a program offered through UR’s St. Sebastian’s Society in which college students read a book with inmates.

Scull visits the correctional facility three times a week, usually to meet with female inmates. Topics discussed range from addiction to education, and Scull often sparks discussion with an article. Other days, Scull observes groups that deal with issues like addiction and trauma to get a better understanding of how she can be a good leader and mentor.

For Scull, the most difficult thing about the program has been gaining the trust of the women she mentors.  Most of the women Scull has talked to are usually older than her, between the ages of 25 and 50, and have experienced trouble with drugs and prostitution, among other difficult life experiences. However, Scull found that once she gained their trust, she was able to learn some incredible stories.

Scull says about five women come regularly to her discussions, where she finds that just “having someone they can trust talking to” can make an impact. “You get close with these women and you feel for them,” says Scull. “They’re not bad people; they’ve just made some bad decisions.”

Scull double majors in business and political science and also is interested in psychology and teaching. In addition to being a Meliora Leader, she is president of Sigma Delta Tau, a teaching assistant for economics and political science classes, and plays varsity women’s basketball.

“I really enjoy helping them and it’s my way to give back,” says Scull. “Just getting told ‘thank you’… it’s something I enjoy doing.”

This article is part four of a series that features the Meliora Leaders of 2012-2013. Undergraduates interested in participating in the program should look for information on the RCCL page in the coming months. Information about the program can be found on the RCCL page athttp://rochester.edu/college/rccl/meliora.html.

Meliora Leader Tackles Smoking Cessation

By Caitlin Mack ’12 (T5)
Univ. Communications

Sanah Ali ’13 is part of an initiative to tackle smoking, one of America’s most controversial, decades-long health issues, as part of the Meliora Leaders Program at the Rochester Center for Community Leadership (RCCL).  Ali is working with the University of Rochester Medical Center’s Healthy Living Center (HLC) to help conduct a five year follow-up study to the Smoker’s Health Project, which includes advising patients interested in quitting smoking and recruiting those interested in services at the clinic.

The tobacco program offered by the HLC is free for U of R employees and allows smokers to meet with a doctor or a psychologist.  Program participants undergo a health evaluation and are given a doctor-prescribed “quit plan” of personalized and some not-so-obvious methods to quit smoking, in addition to medications that aid withdrawal symptoms if necessary.

“We find out about U of R employees who smoke via a voluntary personal health assessment.” says Ali.  “Helping them come in is the first hurdle. Often people wait for indications of decimating health before seeking help.”

For Ali, one of the hardest parts of her work has been broaching the subject of smoking with potential program participants. “It’s not like you can go up to someone and ask if they want to quit smoking,” says Ali. “Some people find it rude or may not want to be identified as smokers. Helping people in a polite and effective way is what I’m aiming for.”

On the other hand, Ali’s favorite part of the experience has been hearing the life stories and unique experiences (struggles and successes) with tobacco of the patients she works with.

One thing that surprised Ali was the strong stigma against medications recommended to help people quit.  As a result, she hopes to “increase awareness that although meds may have side effects or may add to concerns about dependence, these meds are not addictive and are for temporary use. The adverse effects of continuing to smoke overshadow any side effects of meds.”

Ali is intrigued by the biopsychosocial model of medicine developed at Rochester decades ago by Drs. George Engel and John Romano and hopes to incorporate aspects of it in the future as a practicing physician.

“The biopsychosocial model exemplifies the concept of holistic patient care, and points out that intrinsic motivation, living situation, lifestyle, support from family or friends, and mental health affect the likelihood of a long-lasting quit,” says Ali. “There’s only so much that a health care practitioner can do.”  In addition, Ali explains, “If someone smokes and everyone else in the environment does too, it’s going to be a lot tougher for them to quit because of the constant reminder.”

Ali also explains that there is increasing evidence for interplay between factors affecting smoking habits. For example, we know that caffeine stays in your system 40 percent longer when you’re not smoking and can increase anxiety and nicotine cravings; as a result, patients are advised to reduce their caffeine intake when they are trying to quit smoking.  Other unpopular side effects of smoking cessation include experiencing unpleasant withdrawal symptoms or weight gain due to changes in metabolism.

Ali, a Pittsford, N.Y. native and a cell and developmental biology major, hopes to pursue a career in healthcare and continue her involvement with smoking cessation. She intends to expand her work to free clinics, including “UR Well,” a clinic for uninsured patients and “UR Street Medicine” for the homeless population. She also is interested in promoting tobacco awareness at primary schools. In addition to her efforts in Rochester, Ali has travelled to Islamabad, Pakistan to study the smoking habits of high school students there.

Ali is one of five students accepted to the Meliora Leaders Program for the 2012-2013 academic year. The program, offered through the Rochester Center for Community Leadership (RCCL), gives undergraduates the chance to create individualized service projects, allowing them to exercise intensive leadership in the Rochester community for an extended period of time. The program benefits organizations and individuals in need while providing a substantial learning experience for the students involved.

This article is part three of a series that features the Meliora Leaders of 2012-2013. Undergraduates interested in participating in the program should look for information on the RCCL page in the coming months. Information about the program can be found on the RCCL page at http://rochester.edu/college/rccl/meliora.html.

Oladoyin Oladeru ’13 Leads Nonviolence Program for Middle Schoolers

By Caitlin Mack ’12 (T5)
Univ. Communications

Last year, Oladoyin Oladeru ’13 mentored middle school students about the benefits of nonviolence during in-school suspension hours and decided he wanted to create an after school program of a similar nature.  With help from the M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence and fellow University of Rochester undergraduates, Oladeru established the Young Men at Peace program last fall.  The program allows 6th, 7th, and 8th grade male students at Dr. Charles Lunsford School #19 the unique opportunity to explore a wide range of important issues related to nonviolence.

Oladeru is one of five students chosen to be a 2012-20130 Meliora Leader, a new community service initiative through the Rochester Center for Community Leadership (RCCL). Meliora Leaders create individualized service projects, allowing them to exercise intensive leadership in the Rochester community for an extended period of time. The program benefits organizations and individuals in need while providing a substantial learning experience for the students involved.

The topics addressed in Young Men at Peace are meant to inform the middle schoolers about the power of nonviolent self-transformation to overcome physical and mental obstacles. This includes awareness of positive lifestyle choices and social interactions, how to become better advocates against community and school violence, and learning about social justice heroes like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Gandhi.

In addition to Oladeru, other Young Men at Peace undergraduate mentors include Milan Byrdwell ’14, Reginald Hooks ’15, Shaquill McCullers ’14, Michael Mobarak ’15, Carl Parker ’13, and Taurean Parker ’13. All six undergraduates, whom Oladeru gathered before the start of the program last fall, serve as a source of inspiration for the students.

“We want to make the dream of obtaining a college education more attainable by showing them young men from the U of R who are living proof,” says Oladeru.

George Payne, who works at the Gandhi Institute as a Peace and Justice Educator and helps oversee the program, applauds Oladeru’s “vision and dedication,” for allowing the students involved to form “meaningful bonds with mentors in college who know about their challenges and believe in their potential.”  Echoing Payne’s praise is Principal Eva Thomas, who has called the Young Men at Peace program a “blessing” to her school.

Oladeru exercises his own life experiences while serving as a nonviolence ambassador to the young males of School # 19.  Oladeru moved from Lagos, Nigeria to the United States when he was nine years old and lived in the Bronx until college.  Around the age of the students he now mentors, Oladeru was bullied for being foreign, African, and studious. A personal “turning point” that alerted him to the importance of nonviolence occurred in 6th grade when his friend got shot on his way home after school.

“Mentorship is really important, especially at a young age,” says Oladeru. “I remember giving into peer pressure when I came to this country and I think this is an issue most prevalent with young males at that age.  It’s not enough to have two parents at home because they can’t relate and there’s only so much they can understand.”

Oladeru, who is set to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in epidemiology this May, is a McNair Scholar, a Ronald McDonald scholar, a Gilman Scholar, and a Gates Millennium Scholar.  In addition to being a Meliora Leader, he works at Carlson Library and is a Resident Advisor.  He hopes to get a master’s and doctoral degree in epidemiology and conduct population-based research in cardiovascular disease.

Oladeru has high hopes for the future of the program because the young male participants have noticeably progressed as a result of the efforts of Oladeru, his fellow UR mentors, and the Gandhi Institute.  The number of attendees has been steadily increasing and Oladeru aims for a total of 15 boys that come on a regular basis. He also hopes to plan field trips to the U of R campus, Foodlink, and Darien Lake to teach them about rules in different social settings and inspire them to be respectful no matter where you are.

“To see someone with a similar background having made it goes a long way,” says Oladeru. “The greatest joy for me is that I got people interested in volunteering who really care. We go back every week and it makes a difference.”

This article is part two of a series that features the Meliora Leaders of 2012-2013. Undergraduates interested in participating in the program should look for information on the RCCL page in the coming months. Information about the program can be found on the RCCL page at http://rochester.edu/college/rccl/meliora.html.

In the photos: Photo 1: Oladoyin Oladeru with one of the young men in his program. Photo 2: Oladoyin Oladeru and a group of University of Rochester undergraduate mentors teach male students from Dr. Charles Lunsford School #19 about the benefits of nonviolence.

Conference Creates Next Generation of Campus Leaders

Rochester Center for Community Leadership – In early November, nearly 50 University of Rochester undergrads participated in the day-long UR Rising Leader Conference, organized by the Rochester Center for Community Leadership, the Order of Omega, Sigma Chi, and Sigma Phi Epsilon.

Part of ENCORE (the Early November Orientation Revisited program), the conference was geared towards freshmen and sophomores who are interested in becoming active contributors to the campus community. Throughout the day, students worked to identify goals for personal develop—both as students and as future leaders. The conference was led by facilitators from the LeaderShape Institute who provided attendees with tools they can use to achieve their goals.

The conference also was co-sponsored by the Dean of Freshmen, the Dean of Sophomores, Wilson Commons Student Activities, the Student Association, Residential Life, Office of the Dean of the College and Orientation Encore.

For more information about leadership opportunities at Rochester, visit the Rochestr Center for Community Leadership on the web.

Article and photo courtesy of the Rochester Center for Community Leadership

Fall Leadership Conference Named Outstanding Program by Collegiate Association

Wilson Commons Student Activities – The 2011 Fall Leadership Conference hosted by Wilson Commons Student Activities in August has been honored with the Regional Outstanding Community Building Program award by the Association of College Unions International. The award is given annually to “a program that fosters the enhancement of the campus community.”

The conference was designed as a single, unified training experience for the more than 500 student organization leaders on campus.  Held at the Rochester Riverside Convention Center downtown, it also was an opportunity to give students an experience in a real-world professional setting off campus and connect them with the community to inspire leadership after graduation.

Multiple training sessions and mini seminars led by veteran leaders and University representatives provided students with tips on how to improve recruitment strategies, run meetings, create effective fundraising efforts, and organize community service programs. The attendees also were encouraged to connect with various University departments, as well as popular community resources such as Alumni Relations, Graphic Arts Services, Bobby K, and mtvU at the Vendor Expo.

This year’s Leadership Conference saw an increase in attendance as well as satisfaction—80 percent of students surveyed about the program said that they benefited from attending, compared to 67 percent in 2010. Encouraged by the success of the event and the ACUI award, Wilson Commons Student Activities is looking forward to continuing the education and guidance of student leaders at the University through future programs and conferences.