Campus Leaders Recognized During Student Life Awards Ceremony

Univ. 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.

This year, the awards, also known as the Rockys, were presented to 18 students and four organizations.  “I think the winners represent a large demographic that follows their passions and give 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.  He added that he felt inspired by the winners whose “values center around an inherent desire to better themselves and in return make a positive social change in the campus and Rochester community.”

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

Awards ranged from recognizing leadership in the freshman class, athletics, Greek life, and student government. There also was an award given to an outstanding transfer student.  New this year was the Communal Principles Award, recognizing a student for the promotion of fairness, freedom, honesty, inclusion, respect, and responsibility on campus.  One of these six principles will be highlighted annually. This year’s recipient, Jay Liriano ’12 was selected for demonstrating qualities that exemplify the Communal Principle of Respect in his leadership as president of the Lambda Upsilon Lambda fraternity.

The Ballet Performance Group was honored as the Outstanding Student Organization.  The 90-member dance group was nominated by Lydia Crews and Wilson Commons Student Activities. Among its performances and programs this year were the Uncommon nights during orientation, a benefit show for Golisano Children’s Hospital, and an alumni reunion performance. BPG, who took first place at the DU Dance for Charity, also collaborated with the Eastman musicians, incorporating live music in its performances. During Meliora Weekend, BPG usually performs with two other dance groups, but they enhanced this year’s program and collaborated with six other dance groups for the “Diversity of Dance” production. In addition, BPG started a new community outreach program called “Dare to Dance.” Members went to Rochester’ Francis Parker School 23 to teach different styles of dance as an after school program.  At the end of the semester, the elementary school students had the opportunity to perform on stage in Strong Auditorium at BPG’s show.

“The award is reflective of the culmination of efforts from the group’s recent history,” said Laura Chess ’12, BPG’s president and a biomedical engineering major. “It was of course a fantastic surprise, though I believe the group was more than deserving.”  With all of its new programs, Chess hopes that BPG will continue to be a vibrant and inclusive community on campus. The group strives to give all students who are passionate about dance a chance to participate and help shape the programming.  “I’m excited to return and see how the group continues to develop after I’m gone,” Chess added.

Another student honored was economics and political science major Nathan Novosel ’12. As the recipient of the Seth H. & Harriet Terry Prize, he was recognized for his “industry, character and honorable conduct, having done the most for the life and character of the undergraduate community.”  Novosel, who received the Award for Athletic Leadership last year, has been one of the three captains for the Men’s Basketball Team for the past two years.  Novosel also is the vice president of the College Democrats, head captain of the Saint Sebastian Society (a community service group of varsity student athletes which is part of the Catholic Newman organization), a member of the Varsity Student Advisory Committee, the Alexander Hamilton Institute, and associate justice for the All Campus Judicial Council.

“One of my lifetime goals is to get involved in politics and work with public policy and some way,” said Novosel. “So, especially with the AHI and the College Democrats, I’ve really tried to just inform students and to get people more politically active. And that’s not necessarily going out and campaigning, more of just reading a newspaper every day or having a professor panel where we go in and talk about an issue.”

Novosel has started an inequality seminar with the AHI which engages students in discussion and analysis of socioeconomic problems in America.  He will participate in the Teach for America program in Washington, D.C. after graduation, before preparing to apply to law school.

Sponsored by the Office of the Dean of Students and organized by the Rochester Center for Community Leadership, the 2012 Student Life Award recipients are:

Andrew Fried Prize: Mehr Kashyap  ’15
Established by frienda 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.

Delno Sisson Prize: Taylor Watson ’15
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.

Award for Freshman Leadership: Humma Sheikh ’15
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.

Eli & Mildred Sokol Prize: Kelly Scull ’14
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.

Award for Campus Contributions: Kyle Coapman ’13 and Lucas Piazza ’12
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.

Seth H. & Harriet Terry Prize: Nathan Novosel ’12
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.

Percy Dutton Prize: Trevor Baisden ’12
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.

Transfer Student Award: Ahmed Faisal ’12
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.

Award for Outstanding Fraternity and Sorority Leadership: Neftali Morales ’12
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.

Simeon Cheatham Award: Brittany Lewis ’12
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.

Logan Hazen Award for Outstanding Contributions to Residential Life : Becky  Donnelly ’12
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.”

Award for Athletic Leadership: Jamie Bow ’12
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.

Presidential Award for Community Service: Emily Hart ’12 and Garrett Rubin ’12
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.

Entrepreneurship Award: David Bendes ’11/KEY
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.

Michael Lowenstein Memorial Award: Alykhan Alani ’12
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.

The Communal Principles Award: Jonell Liriano ’12
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 – Respect.

Student Organization and Programming Awards

Excellence in Programming: Program: “Rochester’s Yellowjacket Invitational Mock Trial Tournament” Organization: Mock Trial
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.

Outstanding Student Organization Award: Ballet Performance Group
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.

Award for Excellence in Creative Co-sponsorship: Program: “Rock Out for Leukemia Research” Organizations: Vocal Point & Renaissance Scholars
This award recognizes a program that was co-sponsored by a minimum of two organizations or groups. The cosponsored program should have been a new effort, one that brought together different facets of campus, and which served to build and strengthen the campus community.

Article written by Maya Dukmasova, a Take 5 Scholar at the University of Rochester and an intern at University Communications. She majored in philosophy and religion and focused her Take 5 year on researching the way American media covers current events in the Muslim world. An aspiring journalist, Dukmasova has freelanced for Rochester Magazine, the Phoenix New Times, and the Daily News Egypt in Cairo. She also maintains two blogs, one devoted to culture and society in Russia ( and the other to photography (

Photos courtesy of J. Adam Fenster, University Communications.

Semester at Sea Sends Rochester Senior on Life-Changing Trip

Univ. Communications – 2010 was an exciting year for Marcus Williams, a senior member of Rochester’s men’s basketball team, who in between studying and shooting hoops traveled to more than ten different countries in four months and ten days.

In spring 2010, the Syracuse, N.Y. native had the opportunity to go on a ten day trip to Haiti with his local church, Abundant Life Christian Centre, immediately after the 7.0 MW earthquake hit on January 12th. They connected with a church in the capital Port au Prince and their task was to remove two hundred tons of rubble; the earthquake had caused the church to crumble and three people had been killed when the structure collapsed.

Haitian culture was not such a huge shock to Williams, whose mother is Haitian. Growing up he had the opportunity to partake in Haitian cuisine, learn about the country’s history, and learn a little bit of the language. In fact, his first words were in French. However, the biggest thing Williams knew about Haiti is that it is a poor country with quite a lot of corruption. In spite of the fact that Haiti was the first nation to receive independence from slavery in 1804, it remains the poorest country in the western hemisphere.

Williams reminisces about times when his mother would jokingly remind him of how lucky they were to have what they had because she came from a poor country. Not only did he have the opportunity to see the poverty that his mother had described to him all his life, he also had the privilege of sharing the experience with his mother and his best friend, for which he is very thankful.

In spite of his prior knowledge about Haiti, the poverty he encountered was “striking and numbing.” It was also the first time that he smelled a dead person and he says the scent will never leave him.

“The pain and suffering humbled me. It made me more grateful for what I have and made me want to be able to help other parts of the world. I am blessed to be a blessing,” Williams said.

After Haiti, Williams wanted to see more of the world, so for the fall 2010 semester he went on the Semester at Sea program offered through the University of Virginia. This program provides students, faculty, and lifelong learners with the opportunity to visit 12 different countries in four months. On this particular voyage they embarked from Halifax, Canada, visited Spain, Morocco, Ghana, South Africa, Mauritius, India, Singapore, Vietnam, China (Hong Kong and Shanghai), Japan, and Hawaii, eventually debarking in San Diego.

During the semester Williams took five classes that totaled to sixteen credits: corporate finance, global studies, poverty and development, making business work, and international business.

Travelling around the world opened up his eyes to exactly what he wanted to do. He had previously been on the pre-med track but on this trip discovered that business was his niche and he wanted to use it to help the world.

Along their travels he had the opportunity to be part of a team that started Finding Refuge, a nonprofit organization that partners with City of Refuge Ministries, an orphanage working to end child slavery in Lake Volta, Ghana. Finding Refuge has committed itself to spreading the “reality that slavery is a prevalent issue around the world” and raising support for the orphanage through five different fundraising packages. Funds, depending on what package the donor chooses, go directly to freeing a child from slavery, building safe houses, purchasing materials for the schools, and supporting the fair trade company created to provide a livelihood for mothers in the community to alleviate the economic pressure they face.  Membership has expanded to include 45 different universities around the country and the organization has currently raised $30,000 for the cause.

What he marveled about from the experience was that each country he visited brought something new.

“It showed me that people are people just living their life no matter where in the world they are,” he said, noting that the great difference in wealth around the world was another humbling encounter. “One day we’d be sleeping in a place of deep poverty like India and then the next living like kings in a country like Singapore. But even after all the countries I saw, there was no country whose poverty compared to that of Haiti.”

Coming back to the States was shocking and it was difficult to be with family and friends that did not understand what he had experienced. However, Williams managed to conquer this reverse culture shock with the support of his mother and four other University of Rochester students that were on the trip with him; one who was on the men’s baseball team and three who were on the men’s basketball team with him. The men were a great support not only because they had shared the experience with him but also because they had built deep and real friendships that made them feel like they had known each other for years.

“I truly believe that everyone should do this. It changed my life, the way I think. It changes who you are, it just doesn’t affect it,” he said.

Article written by Audrey Kusasira, an intern in University Communications who is pursuing a Master’s of Science degree in Marriage and Family Therapy at the School of Medicine and Dentistry. Photo courtesy of Marcus Williams.

Mike Labanowski Named to Capital One Academic All-America Men’s Basketball Team

Rochester Athletics – As a three-point shooter for the men’s basketball team at the University of Rochester, Mike Labanowski has done an admirable job of “filling it up”. The nomenclature describes his ability to put the ball in the basket.

Academically, Labanowski has done an admirable job of “filling it up” as well and he has been rewarded appropriately.  The senior guard has been named to the Capital One Academic All-America Men’s Basketball Team in voting done by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA).

Labanowski is the sixth Rochester men’s basketball player to earn Academic All-America honors from CoSIDA. He is the first player to accomplish the feat since Seth Hauben in 2004-05. Labanowski is a resident of Rochester, NY and an alumnus of McQuaid Jesuit High School.

He is a Second Team Capital One Academic All-American in the College Division. CoSIDA selects 15 players in both the College and University Divisions for men and women. The top five vote-getters earn First Team accolades, the next five Second Team, and the last five Third Team. Due to a tie in the voting this year, there were six named to the First Team, four to the Second Team, five to the Third Team.

Rochester is enjoying one of its finest seasons. The Yellowjackets are 20-4 overall, 12-1 in the University Athletic Association. They have clinched the UAA championship and an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III playoffs.  Rochester plays its regular season finale this Saturday at Emory University in Atlanta.

Labanowski is averaging 10.8 ppg., gets 2.6 rpg., has 30 assists, and 24 steals. He is fourth in scoring average. He is shooting 47.2% from the field, 45.6 % from three-point range (68-149). Individually, he is ranked 14th in Division III in three-point field goal percentage. As a team, Rochester is ranked third in overall field goal percentage (51.3%) and first in three-point field goal percentage (45.1%).

In the season opener this year, Labanowski tied the Rochester single-game record by sinking eight three-pointers in an 81-52 victory over St. Lawrence. The 24 points were a career high. He played in two record-breaking team performances. Rochester hit 33 of 45 from the floor for a school-record 73.3% on November 27 in an 83-67 victory over Pitt-Bradford. Labanowski hit four of five field goal attempts, three of four outside the arc (all five starters hit double figures). On January 4, the Yellowjackets hit a single-game record 17 three-pointers in an 88-52 win over RIT. Labanowski hit five of six outside the arc.

Labanowski is majoring in Mechanical Engineering with a minor in Environmental Engineering. He carries a cumulative 3.86 grade point average. Over the summer, he interned at the Ginna Nuclear Power Plant as part of a nuclear engineering mechanical design team. He designed a piping system and drainage system for the plant. In the fall, he was named as a Lysle “Spike” Garnish Scholar as one of the top 10 senior scholar-athletes.

(Story courtesy of Dennis O’Donnell, Sports Information Director, University of Rochester Athletics)

Yellowjackets Clean House on Senior Day

Rochester Athletics –  Both the men’s and women’s basketball team won on Senior Day, beating Washington University in St. Louis 83-78 and71-61, respectively on Sunday, Feb. 14. For the men it was their ninth straight win.

Before the game, Seniors Mike Labanowski, David Gould, Peter Wen and Melissa Alwardt were honored in a ceremony for their accomplishments with the Yellowjackets basketball team.