University of Vermont

Academic Ceremonies - Commencement

Recognition of Outstanding Student Leader Award Recipients
Jane E. Knodell, Professor of Economics and Provost and Senior Vice President

Jane E. Knodell

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.

Student Leader Awards 2012

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 Molly Campbell

Molly is an Honors College student with a major in Political Science and Economics and a minor in Anthropology.

She has held leadership roles with College Democrats for three years, organized a gubernatorial debate on campus and helped register students to vote. She also created Food for Thought, a program about healthy eating within the college environment. A Dean’s List student, Molly was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa in December 2011. In reflecting on her UVM experience Molly said, “College only happens once, so I challenged myself to think differently, learn more, take advantage of opportunities, care more, and give more.”

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 Caitlin Patterson.

Caitlin is an Honors College student with a major in Civil Engineering. A member of the Women’s Varsity Ski team, she helped the team win the 2012 NCAA Skiing National Championship. In addition, Caitlin is a 6-time NCAA all-American, a 2-time UVM Women’s Skiing MVP, and Ski Racing Magazine’s 2010 Female U.S. Junior Nordic Skier of the Year. Caitlin is as hard working off skis as she is on. She was named the 2012 UVM Student Engineer of the Year. She is also a member of Tau Beta Pi and Chi Epsilon, two national engineering honor societies. In the community, she has mentored elementary school students and helped at events such as Green-up Day and the Burlington Half Marathon. Reflecting on her UVM experience Caitlin said, “UVM has been a perfect place to balance the valuable educational experience of a strong civil engineering program with unforgettable memories from competitive ski racing.”

The second recipient of the Class of ’67 Award is William Vitagliano.
William is a Psychology major with a minor in Sustainable Landscape Horticulture. He is the outgoing vice president of the Student Government Association, president of the UVM Squash Team, and a senior TA for Psychology 001. He has been a student member of the Budget, Finance and Investment Committee of the Board of Trustees and served on the Presidential Search Committee. William is a 4-year member of the Squash Team and served as President of the team this past year. This semester, William will publish a paper with Professor Larry Rudiger on lying as a natural development skill. He is the recipient of the Ayling Foundation Scholarship in recognition of his academic achievement. His community service includes, mentoring fellow students, helping the elderly with their gardens, Habitat for Humanity, and Make-A-Wish Foundation. Reflecting on his UVM experience, William said, “I am honored to have found my passion, my friends, and the skills for success in an inviting, accepting, and diverse community.”

The Keith M. Miser Leadership Award is presented to the student who has been successful in campus leadership. There are 4 recipients, the first is Katherine Rifkin

An Honors College student, Katherine Rifkin is pre-med with a major in Psychology and a minor in French. She has been involved with the Student Government Association since her freshman year, serving as a senator and chair of several committees. Among her many SGA activities are the Veterans Day Commemoration Ceremony with the Veteran’s Collaboration Organization, conducting the Vermont Student Opinion Poll, the “UVMers Guide to UVM,” voter registration, Town-Gown relations, and Mayoral debates for students. Her community service activities include Relay for Life, neighborhood clean-ups and the Have a Heart program.

Katherine is also one of the founding members of ZEST A Capllella. Reflecting on her UVM experience, she has said, “Although we come to UVM for an ‘academic experience’ what we learn in not quantitative, but is instead the realization of the power and privilege we have, and our ability to make change in our world.”

The second Miser Leadership Award recipient is Shiren Chan.

Shiren is a Nutrition and Food Science Major with a Food Systems minor in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. She is a founding sister of the Lambda Theta Alpha Latin Soroity, a member of the Asian American Student Union and Alianza Latina. She has volunteered with the O’Brien Community Center / Campus Kitchens, the Translating Identities Conference, Food Salvage, and the Salvation Army. Shiren is the 2012 recipient of the Mariafranca Morselli Leadership Award and the 2011 recipient of the Outstanding Social Justice Activist Award and the Provost Student Leadership in Equity and Campus Diversity Award. She is an advocate of social justice and has endeavored to create more dialogue on campus in the form of more well-informed and critically thinking students. Reflecting on her UVM experience, Shiren said “we leave understanding the trials of fire that were undertaken only to be re-birthed; ready to set the world on fire.”

The third Miser Leadership Award recipient is Baldwin Delgado.

Baldwin is majoring in Business Administration with a dual concentration in Accounting and Management Information Systems in the School of Business Administration. He has twice been the recipient of the School of Business ALANA outstanding student award. Baldwin has lived up to his beliefs that rewards come with hard work and to lead by example. UVM activities include Orientation Leader, Alianza Latina member, Black Student Union member, ALANA per mentoring program, Founding member of Phi Mu Delta. He has been involved in various community service events including Relay for Life, Community Clean-Up, and St. Jude’s Research Hospital. A Dean’s list student, Baldwin is the recipient of a Presidential Scholarship, Urban Scholarship, Cesar Murillo Scholarship, the Rodney S. Patterson Award, and Lufuno Tshikororo Award. Reflecting on his UVM experience, Baldwin said, “UVM has allowed me to welcome every challenge in order to further enhance my leadership capabilities. The sky is not my limit.”

The fourth Miser Leadership Award recipient is Dylan Lawrence Bellevance.

Dylan is an Exercise and Movement Science major in the College of Nursing and Health Sciences. He is a 4-year member and current president of the Premedical Club, and a 3-year member and current president of the UVM Exercise and Movement Science Student Association. He has been on the Dean’s List each year since 2008 and is a member of the Mortar Board National Honor Society and Golden Key Honor Society. Dylan has worked as a Research Assistant with Dr. Connie Thompkins on her Adolescent Physical Research study and has sought out other opportunities to advance his medical interests and education. Dylan aspires to be a physician working in pediatrics. His community service activities include Vermont Special Olmpics, Ronald McDonald House, and preparing and serving meals to the homeless in Los Angeles. Reflecting on his UVM experience, Dylan has said, “Take full advantage of UVM’s offerings. Find your niche — go after it. Imagine bigger than you see possible. Believe me, you will be grateful!”

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 Bijoux Bahati.

Bijoux is a Social Work major in the College of Education and Social Services. She is a McNair Scholar and has presented her research at 3 symposiums and conferences. Bijoux has volunteered with Women Helping Battered Women, the Committee for Temporary Shelter, the African Cultural Traditions Program in Living/Learning, Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf and Spring Break Katrina Relief through the Catholic Center and Intervarsity Christian Fellowship at UVM. She is a member of Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society for Social Work and a recipient of the Women’s Center Outstanding Social Justice Activist Award, and the TRIO/SSS Academic Excellence Award and Leadership Institute Award. Her accomplishments demonstrate her commitment to excel and overcome any obstacles. Reflecting on her UVM experience, Bijoux quoted Jim Wallis, “Hope is believing in spite of the evidence, then watching the evidence change.”

The second Nicholson Award recipient is Jeffrey Eng.

Jeffrey is a Nutrition and Food Science major in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. He has been a peer advisor in the Summer Enrichment Scholars program, an ALANA Peer Mentor, a member of the President’s Commission on Diversity and Inclusion, Vice President of AASU, and a coordinator for Lion Dance. He is the recipient of the Women’s Center Outstanding Ally Award and the ALANA Student Center Academic Achievement Award. While at UVM, like many students, Jeffrey arrived with one interest only to realize that he was much more interested in another. He successfully redirected his studies, making the Dean’s list in his junior year. Reflecting on his UVM experience, Jeffrey said, “I have grown in both personal development and as a leader thanks to the support of the friends, staff and faculty here at UVM.”

Last modified June 08 2012 01:17 PM

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