University of Vermont

Academic Ceremonies - May Commencement

Recognition of Outstanding Student Leader Awards
Robert B. Low, Professor of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics Emeritus,
and Interim Provost and Senior Vice President

Robert Low

The Outstanding Student Leader Awards are among the most prestigious awards presented by the University of Vermont. The students recognized today have been nominated by fellow members of the campus community, including students, faculty and staff, for their leadership, scholarship and service to the University. It now gives me great pleasure to announce for the first time, here today, the award recipients. Students when your name is called please come forward and join me on stage. Audience, please hold your applause until all the students are on stage.

Outstanding Student Leaders 2013

The Mary Jean Simpson Award is presented to the senior female student who best exemplifies the qualities of character, leadership and scholarship. This year’s award is given to Tram L. Tran

Tram is an Honors College student with a major in Biochemistry in the College of Arts and Sciences. She will graduate today magna cum laude. Among her leadership and community roles, she has been a tutor in general chemistry and organic chemistry, a volunteer with the Ronald McDonald House-Fletcher Allen Health Care, president of the Tower Honor Society and an elected Senator to the SGA. A Dean’s List student all 4 years at UVM, she was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa in 2012. Reflecting on her UVM experience, Tram said, “…there is an infinite amount of inspiration and support within this community. Everyone I encounter teaches me a lesson and every experience has been an opportunity.”

The F.T. Kidder Medal is presented to the senior male student who best exemplifies the qualities of character, leadership and scholarship: Rob Rudy

Rob is an Honors College student with a Microbiology Major in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. He will graduate today summa cum laude. Rob has worked as a supplemental instructor for general chemistry and organic chemistry and as a peer mentor to students interested in health professions. He is a member of the UVM Chapter of the Tri Beta biology honor society, and Boulder Society. A Dean’s List student all 4 years, Rob was elected to Phi Beta Kappa this spring. He has volunteered over 300 hours at FAHC, and has volunteered in Accra, Ghana, with Unite for Sight, an NGO focused on preventable blindness in the developing world. Reflecting on his UVM experience, Rob said, “It takes vision and creativity to dream and it takes discipline, hard work and a willingness to act to translate your dream into reality.”

The Class of ’67 Award is presented to the senior student who has been active in student activities, has received university recognition in a varsity sport, and/or has been elected to an office in a recognized student activity. There are 2 recipients, the first is Kyle DeVivo.

Kyle is a double degree graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Engineering Management and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. He has served as a student Trustee on the University of Vermont Board of Trustees, and as a Senator in the Student Government Association. He is a member of Kappa Sigma and the Boulder Honor Society. His long standing volunteer commitments include: Kappa Sigma Sleep Out for the Soldiers, Outright Vermont Firetruck Pull, Have a Heart with OSCR, Relay for Life, Cots Walk, and WHBW Zumbathon. Reflecting on his UVM experience, Kyle said, “I define my my UVM experience as the achievement of personal growth through shared activities, the generous help of my peers and the opportunity to take on leadership roles.”

The second recipient of the Class of ’67 Award is Eliza Brooke Kelsten.

Eliza is a double major in Politcal Science and History with a minor in Women’s and Gender Studies [WGST] in the College of Arts and Sciences. She will graduate today, magna cum laude. As a three-year member of the Free 2 Be executive board she has worked to build community and foster an affirmative and inclusive environment for all students at UVM but especially for those who identify as LGBTQA. She has also served as staff development coordinator overseeing the peer mentors for the AdvoCat program. She is the recipient of the 2013 Paul D. Evans Scholarship Award and a 2012 National Truman Scholarship Finalist. She has been a Dean’s list student since 2009 and is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Iota Iota Iota honor society, Phi Alph Theta, and Pi Sigma Alpha. Reflecting on her UVM experience, Eliza quotes John Dewey, UVM alumus, and noted educator and philosopher, “To find out what one is fitted to do and to secure an opportunity to do it is the key to happiness.”

The Keith M. Miser Leadership Award is presented to the student who has been successful in campus leadership. There are 2 recipients, the first is Michelle Leung.

Michelle is a Human Resources Mangagement major in the School of Business Administration with a Chinese minor. At UVM, she launched the Real Beauty Campaign, a movement to showcase women at UVM and promote that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes, ages, abilities and color. She has also been active in the Asian American Student Union, a resident advisor, a career peer advisor, director of programs at Volunteers in Action, and an information assistant in the Davis Center. She is the recipient of the Outstanding Student Acitivist Award and ALANA School of Business Award. She spent her fist spring break volunteering for Katrina Relief in New Orleans. Michelle is a member of the Tower Honor Society. Reflecting on her UVM experience, Michelle said, “I came, I struggled, I persevered.”

The second Keith M. Miser Leadership Award recipient is Ryan Little.

Ryan is a Business major with a concentration in Marketing in the School of Business Administration. He is a US Marine Corps combat veteran and President of UVM’s Student Veteran’s Organization and the UVM Chapter of Student Veterans of America. He coordinated the 2011 and 2012 National Remembrance Day Roll Call at UVM, remembering fallen service members since the 9-11 terrorist attacks. He is president of Enactus an organization that encourages students to develop entrpreneurial business models and share their ideas. He was selected to attend the 2012 Leadership Institute and Center for International Business Education and Research Case Challenge. Reflecting on his UVM experience, Ryan said “The greatest lessons I’ve learned about my strengths and weaknesses…have been working in teams, being open to other’ opinions and self-reflecting.”

The Elmer Nicholson Achievement Prize is presented to the student who has emerged from their total UVM experience with the promise of great expectations in their field of interest. There are two recipients. The first is Tracie Ebalu.

Tracie is a Psychology major and German minor in the College of Arts and Sciences. She is the recipient of the George Albee Award, Roger Summers Award, and Outstanding Social Justice Activist Award, and was a McNair Scholarship recipient. She has been an advocate for the refuge and asylum community in Vermont and a Connecting Cultures Program volunteer. Through the Mortar Board Honors Society, she organized a winter clothing drive to support refugees in Vermont. She also successfully engaged the support of Burton Snowbards in this effort. She is dedicated and passionate about learning in order to help others. Reflecting on her experience at UVM, Tracie said “Resilience is about looking at life’s adversities in the face and saying I am going to beat you and become even stronger.”

The second Elmer Nicholson Achievement Prize recipient is Brent M. Reader.

Brent is a Social Work major in the College of Education and Social Services with a minor in Anthropology. He will graduate today magna cum laude. Brent is a decorated combat veteran of the Iraq War. In 2012, he was named as one of only 65 Truman Scholars nationwide. While at UVM he has been a social work intern with the Connecting Cultures program, a component of New England Survivors of Torture and Trauma, and a Veteran Healthcare Advocate. He has played a central role in the University of Vermont/Abenaki Partnership, where he’s been directly involved with planning and administration of community development projects that reinforce culturally competent approaches to social services. Brent is a member of the Boulder Honor Society, UVM Student Veteran’s Organization, Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society, Phi Alpha National Honor Society, and Golden Key International Honour Society. He would like to pursue an advanced degree and return someday to UVM to teach. Reflecting on his experience at UVM, Brent attributes his determination to the Warrior Ethos, part of the Soliders Creed, “I will always place the mission first. I will never accept defeat. I will never quit. I will never leave a fallen comrade.”

Last modified June 04 2013 11:04 AM