University of Vermont

217th Commencement Ceremonies - May 19 and 20, 2018

Recognition of Outstanding Student Leader Award Recipients
David V. Rosowsky, Provost and Senior Vice President and Professor of Engineering

David Rosowsky and President Sullivan with 2017 Student Leader Award RecipientsStudent Leaders 20172017 Outstanding Student Leadership Awards:

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.

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 Mariam Haq..

Mariam is an Honors College Scholar and a Biochemistry major and Food Systems minor in the College of Arts and Sciences. She is graduating today magna cum laude. Mariam’s academic objective at UVM has been to enhance her learning through interdisciplinary opportunities, which included taking classes in acting, cello, and Arabic. She has taught a chemistry lab section and started a biochemistry newsletter. On campus, Mariam has been an active member in the UVM Biochemistry Society, the UVM Pre-Medical Club and the Campus Kitchens Project. Seeking a place for prayer, she worked tirelessly to create an interfaith center on campus. She pays attention, acts with kindness and puts her best effort forward no matter the circumstances. Reflecting on her UVM expereince, Mariam said, “UVM has taught me to listen with an open mind and to see with eyes unclouded. It has shaped me to question the world and given me the courage to pursue the answers.”

The F.T. Kidder Medal is presented to the senior male student who best exemplifies the qualities of character, leadership and scholarship. This year’s award is given to Kyle Kellett.

Kyle is a Neuroscience major in the College of Arts and Sciences. He is graduating today cum laude. Kyle is multitalented. In addition to the demands of the neuroscience program, which includes premedical requirements, he has worked as an undergraduate research assistant and Davis Center technical assisant; volunteered with the Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports program, Service TREK, Alternative Spring Break, and Alpha Phi Omega; and has been the director of West Coast Swing of the Salsa and Swing Society competitive Ballroom Dance Team. He is also a member of the Boulder Society, Mortar Board and Nu Rho Psi neuroscience honor society. He takes each of these commitments seriously, and has managed to be a highly involved student who makes an impact outside of the classroom. Reflecting on his UVM experience, Kyle said:
“I led some clubs, worked some jobs, and took some classes too,
But overall, the thing I learned was there’s nothing I can’t do!”

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 Alex Jenkins.

Alex is an Honors College Scholar and a Neuroscience major in the College of Arts and Sciences. She is a stand-out athlete as captain of the UVM Women’s Varsity Soccer team and the recipient of two UVM Rally awards, the Seman’s Trophy for her athletic achievements and the earned respect and regard of her fellow students for leadership, loyalty and service to UVM; and the Jeff Stone Memorial Award for her involvement in campus leadership and community service activities. Having distinguished herself in academic achievement, athletic excellence, service and leadership, she has been nominated for the 2017 America East Woman of the Year award. At UVM, Alex has learned how to put vision into action as president of the Student Athlete Advisory Council; and raised awareness of and promoted diabetes education as a volunteer with the local diabetes community. She leads by example, always has a positive attitude, is passionate about collaboration and connecting groups of people, and believes that you can always achieve much more when you work as a team than alone. Reflecting on her UVM experience, Alex said, “When you immerse yourself in the things you love, they not only shape you, but challenge you to reach new heights and grow.”

The second recipient of the Class of ’67 Award is Ian Weider.

Ian is a Business Administration major and minor in Coaching in the Grossman School of Business. He is the record holder of the UVM Indoor Track and Field Long Jump, the indoor and outdoor champion of the Men’s America East Conference Long Jump, and NCAA Division I National Qualifier in the Men’s Long Jump. He was recently presented with the UVM Jeff Stone Memorial Award in recognition of his campus leadership and community service activities. As co-chair of the Student Athletic Advisory Council he has worked to get athletes more involved with local communities. He spearheaded the “It’s On Us” campaign to end sexual violence on college campuses, and “You Can Play” initiatives for LGBTQ athlete inclusion. He believes that because athletes are some of the most visible people on campus it is especially important for them to demonstrate support of important social initiatives. He is a hard worker, he has persevered to be successful, and takes his commitments seriously. Reflecting on his UVM experience Ian quoted author J.R.R. Tolkien from Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, “Darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines, it will shine out the clearer.”

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 Rebecca Potter.

Becca is an Honors College Scholar and English major and Sociology and Critical Race and Ethnic Studies minor in the College of Arts and Sciences. She will graduate today cum laude. Becca has been deeply involved in the UVM community throughout her time at UVM, including as a facilitator for the Next Step Social Justice Retreat, a Service Trek leader and training intern, a presenter for the Dismantling Rape Culture Conference, a fellow of Mansfield Hall, a lead presenter for IMPACT National Conference and Vermont Women in Higher Education Conference, president of the Tower Society and a member of Mortarboard. In addition, she has worked for the UVM writing Center as a tutor, presentation coordinator and mentor for the last 3 years. She puts her heart into her work. Reflecting on her UVM experience, Becca said, “Thank you for the challenges, communities, and vast amounts of good, hard work, done and yet to do. Love is really the point. Onward!”

The second Keith Miser Leadership Award recipient is Robert Parris.

Robert is an Early Childhood Education major in the College of Education and Social Services. He joined the Black Student Union in his freshman year; as a junior he was elected president and this past year served as a student advisor. His objective throughout his 4-year involvement was to bring together students of color with the greater campus community. He worked tirelessly to forge connections with other clubs, organizations, departments, staff and faculty at UVM. His success is seen not just in the number of students of color now involved in activities across campus but also in the feeling of belonging. Robert is the multi-year recipient of the Dudley H. Davis Center Outstanding Service Award and the Lufuno Tshikororo Award for demonstrated leadership. Robert found his passion in his major once he began student teaching second graders at the Integrated Arts Academy in Burlington. He will return to New York City as a Teach for America corps member, teaching special education and continuing his efforts to disrupt educational inequity to ensure a future for marginalized children so they are not limited by their experiences be it poverty, trauma at home, lack of food, or lack of resources at home and at school. Reflecting on his UVM experience, Robert quotes Wilma Rudolph, who overcame poverty and infantile paralysis to become an Olympic track and field champion and role model for black and females athletes in the 1960s, “Never underestimate the power of dreams and the influence of the human spirit. We are all the same in this notion: The potential for greatness lives within each of us.”

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 Kaelyn Burbey.

Kaelyn is an Environmental Engineering major and Mathematics minor in the College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences. She is graduating today cum laude. Yesterday, Kaelyn was commisioned as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army Corps of Engineers. She is one of only13 in the nation to receive the ROTC Legion of Valor Bronze Cross Award for achievement of scholastic excellence in military and academic subjects. She is also the recipient of the Superior Cadet Award, Distinguished Military Graduate award, the UVM Edward Phelps Award for Engineering and a member of the Tau Beta Pi National Engineering Honor Society to name a few of her honors. She credits her professors, UVM faculty and students she has worked with as the most valuable part of her education. It is not surprising that she defines character and its components — integrity, respect, selflessness, and determination — as the most elemental aspect of an individual, and one that is built over a lifetime and molded by experiences. This past semester as the Battalion Commander of UVM”s ROTC program she experienced the formal leadership role of being in charge of 86 other individuals and upholding the success of the program. Reflecting on her UVM experience, Kaelyn said, “Study what interests you, do what inspires you, try what challenges you and through it all be confident in yourself and what you want to accomplish.”

The second Elmer Nicholson Achievement Prize recipient is David Waller.

David is an Anthropology major and Music minor in the College of Arts and Sciences. David is an engaged and dedicated volunteer who takes initiative and is recognized by many for the ability to make other people feel included and heard. David’s efforts include raising awareness about sexual assualt, improving gender and sexuality equity, working with Free2Be and the LGBTQA Center, and giving presentations on how to aid survivors of sexual assault. Last fall, David organized a Diversity and Equity Talent Show as an opportunity for people to share a positive experience in light of recent acts of terrorism and bias. David’s other activities have included Service Trek, Alternative Spring Break, Phi Mu Delta service fraternity, Peer Note Taker, Relay for Life and Rallython. David is the recipient of the Outstanding Ally Award, the NASPA Region I “Catch a Rising Star Award,” the Outstanding Campus Leader award and the Dr. Alvin A. Sturdivant Commitment to Diversity and Social Justice Award. Reflecting on the UVM experience, David said, “Eat, sleep, class. This is the college sterotype. Break Free! Get involved, and live in collboration and connection. Never make assumptions — not even about yourself!”

Last modified June 09 2017 09:47 AM