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 (www.out-of-russia.com) and the other to photography (www.myorientalism.com).

Photos courtesy of J. Adam Fenster, University Communications.

Sophomore’s Battle with Cancer Inspires Campus

Univ. Communications – Life changed dramatically in a few days for 20-year-old Allison Eberhardt. On September 9th she went from being a first semester sophomore whose swollen throat was believed to possibly be strep, mono or just a very bad cold to an acute myeloid leukemia patient at Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City just three days later.

Acute myeloide leukemia is a rare form of cancer with a more archetypal patient of a Caucasian male between the ages of 2 and 10 years old. It is difficult to determine when the disease starts as it progresses rapidly.

Eberhardt received her treatment on the pediatric floor of Sloan Kettering where doctors started her on the induction rounds of chemotherapy immediately. Eberhardt was given four induction rounds of chemotherapy; each round entailed the drug being pumped into her veins for 96 hours, she was then given a few days rest before starting the next 96-hour round.

The first month of treatment was incredibly challenging and nurses referred to her as Murphy’s Law because it seemed that anything that could go wrong did; while the chemotherapy tubes were being fixed her lung was punctured, she had an allergic reaction to the medicine, and the morphine made her faint!

On top of all the medication drama, Eberhardt’s hair began to fall out near the end of September. At first she tried to fight it by getting her hair cut shorter, but life became uncomfortable as she lost and left hair in random places like on her pillow. Even though she knew that the time had to come to shave her hair, Eberhardt remembers sobbing as the razor buzzed on her head.

Losing hair was just the beginning of the effects of chemotherapy, because it attacks fast growing cells, Eberhardt’s nails also stopped growing. Her digestive system was affected and she had an upset tummy that could not hold down any food.  “Every time I ate I was in pain,” she said. She lost 20 pounds that she really did not have to spare; she was 5’8” and only 127 pounds.

Murphy’s Law did not hold up for long in Eberhardt’s life though; after the fourth round of chemotherapy doctors found no cancer in her body. She is currently in round seven of chemotherapy, which is a maintenance phase, meaning she receives chemotherapy for a couple of hours and takes a lot of medication.

The battle against cancer for Eberhardt was not just physical it was also emotional. When she was first diagnosed with cancer she remembers thinking, “Cool, I’m going to die in a week.” But in the midst of that response something clicked within her and she decided that cancer wasn’t going to take away her good attitude; she was determined “not to succumb to the cancer.”

Eberhardt’s good attitude has made her an inspiration to thousands of people. She began to write a blog titled “Getting over a cold,” which was inspired by doctors at UHS who first attributed her swollen throat to a very bad cold. Eberhardt’s blog is a chance for her to share not just her journey but also her sarcastic humor about everything that she has gone through.

The blog has been a breath of fresh air both for her and her readers. Due to the risks of infection Eberhardt has been isolated and the blog is an opportunity for her to hold an emotional connection with the outside world.

During this trying time Eberhardt has also found incredible solace in music and began to record videos of her performances of songs such as Don’t Set Me Free, Someone Like You, and Turning Tables. The videos have been a hit and thousands of people have been impacted by her gift of song, something she finds so surprising, “I am just bored playing in my pajamas!”

Seeing the comments and messages people write has made her realize more and more what her story has meant to others. “It’s one thing to be told by your friends and family that you are an inspiration, but it’s different when it’s strangers who have no obligation to you” she said.

When Eberhardt was listed by the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance Blog as one of the 10 most powerful cancer stories of 2011, this reality really sunk in.

As a result, Eberhardt sees this entire phase of her life through a different lens, “it’s incredible how much more good has come because of this and it’s weird to say because cancer has such a bad connotation.”

One of the good outcomes is how much cancer has changed her, as a genetics and psychology major Eberhardt is thinking about conducting cancer research after college and plans to volunteer on the floor where she was treated, spending time with children and encouraging them because she knows what they are going through.

“I have learned to appreciate a lot of things; I was on bed rest for a long time and they finally allowed me to walk and I got very excited about that!” Eberhardt said.  “There was a little girl who had to have her leg amputated and another girl, who because doctors had never encountered her form of cancer before, passed away. I realize that it could have been so much worse.”

Eberhardt recognizes that this journey would have been more difficult without the support that she has received. Even before she began reaching out to the outside world the outside world was reaching out to her. Various students at the University sent her encouraging Facebook messages and former teachers and her father’s coworkers raised money. “People I have never met are being so generous,” she said.

On Saturday, Jan. 21, the outside world again reached out to Eberhardt and other leukemia patients in the form of a benefit concert. Vocal Point, the a cappella group that Eberhardt is a part of, and various other performance groups on campus came together to create “Rock Out For Leukemia Research”, raising funds to be donated to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and to Eberhardt, to help offset health care costs.

While Eberhardt was unable to make a personal appearance at the concert, she was a part of the occasion and shared her presence through the familiar medium of video.

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 Allison Eberhardt.