Division of Student Affairs honors exceptional student leaders

Author: Ann Hastings

Golden Dome in the spring

The University of Notre Dame’s Division of Student Affairs recognized seven students at the annual Student Leadership Awards Banquet on Tuesday (March 31), and will honor one award winner at the Graduate School Awards Ceremony on May 15 (Friday). These annual awards honor current students who have made exceptional contributions to the Notre Dame community.

The Rev. A. Leonard Collins, C.S.C., Award, honoring a graduating senior who has made substantial personal efforts to advance the interests of students at Notre Dame, was given to Juan Rangel.

The political science and Latino studies major’s involvement in the Center for Social Concerns, Campus Ministry and Student Government has allowed him to develop relationships on campus that have had a positive impact on the University community. As chief of staff to the 2013-14 student body president, he helped author a recommendation on how to support students of high financial need and has continued dialogue across campus throughout this academic year.

Rangel, a Siegfried Hall resident, serves as founder and president of the Student Coalition for Immigration Advocacy, which fosters education, awareness, advocacy and outreach on the issue of immigration on campus and beyond. In this capacity, he has worked tirelessly to create support and resources to help undocumented students adjust to campus life and flourish at Notre Dame. He also served as a multicultural senior intern for Campus Ministry and was recently a co-leader of the ACC Student Leadership Symposium.

The Rev. Theodore Hesburgh, C.S.C., Award annually honors a graduating senior whose contributions have significantly advanced the climate of welcome and inclusion within or beyond the University community. This year’s recipient is Matthew Wong.

A Duncan Hall resident majoring in biology and Chinese, Wong served as chair of the Diversity Council of Notre Dame and has been involved with the Asian American Association, the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Committee, PrismND and the Club Coordination Council. A respected collaborator and servant leader, Wong is also known for inspiring leadership in others.

Aamir Ahmed Khan will be presented with the Sister Jean Lenz, O.S.F., Leadership Award, given to a post-baccalaureate student who has displayed leadership in promoting a more diverse, inclusive campus community for students at the Graduate School Awards Ceremony on May 15 (Friday).

An electrical engineering doctoral student, Khan currently serves as president of the Muslim Student Association. In this capacity, he has helped provide Muslim students and the Notre Dame community a source to celebrate faith as well as an opportunity for interfaith appreciation. A former member of the Graduate Student Ministry Partnership team, Khan has been instrumental in Campus Ministry‘s approach for graduate student ministry.

The Blessed Basil Moreau, C.S.C., Leadership Award was awarded to Grace Carroll. This award is given to a graduating senior who embodies Blessed Father Moreau’s vision of educating heart and mind as well as someone who has demonstrated significant effort to advancing the Catholic character of the University.

The Ryan Hall resident recently served as student coordinator of the Campus Ministry Freshman Retreat, aiding in the design and development of an updated retreat model that infuses Christian faith, Holy Cross spirituality and Notre Dame community. She has used this experience to inform her work as a committee chair for the department’s Spirituality Study initiative, currently underway. In addition, she serves as the Campus Ministry representative in Student Government. Carroll is a theology and Spanish major with a minor in education, schooling and society.

The John W. Gardner Student Leadership Award, given to a graduating senior who exemplifies the ideals of the University through outstanding community service beyond the University community, was awarded to Christina Gutierrez.

Gutierrez serves as president of the Notre Dame chapter of the World Hunger Coalition, which has been active in raising awareness of the issue of hunger, and organizing the Wednesday Lunch Donation, in which students forgo a meal and contribute its monetary value to designated organizations addressing hunger. The club has raised more than $25,000 this academic year in student donations for hunger-relief organizations, including, locally, the Northern Indiana Food Bank. She has also successfully provided support and fundraising to the Monroe Park Grocery Cooperative in South Bend.

A Hesburgh-Yusko Scholar, Kellogg International Scholar and Truman Scholarship finalist, Gutierrez is pursuing a double major in political science and Romance languages and literature.

Lauren Vidal was awarded the Mike Russo Spirit Award, honoring an outstanding undergraduate student who exemplifies the qualities for which Mike Russo was known, including service, personal character, and those who strive to bring the best out of themselves and others.

As outgoing student body president, Vidal has had an influential, tangible impact on student life at Notre Dame, notably in the areas of student safety, mental health awareness and engagement with the South Bend community. Known as an exceptional collaborator, Vidal has served on the steering committee for the campus Wellness Center and the executive vice president’s Worker Participation Committee. Vidal is currently pursuing a major in management consulting and a minor in the Hesburgh Program in Public Service.

Megan Heeder was awarded the Ray Siegfried Award for Leadership Excellence, presented to a graduating senior who exemplifies the qualities for which former Notre Dame Trustee Ray Siegfried was known, including leadership, generosity, devotion to the Catholic faith and affinity for athletics.

A Program of Liberal Studies major and Howard Hall resident, Heeder competed as a three-sport varsity athlete for three years (track and field and cross-country). Merging athletics and service, she co-founded a group devoted to the well-being of women athletes.

Heeder has also shown exceptional leadership in the Robinson Community Learning Center’s Youth Development AmeriCorps, in the Center for Social Concern’s Summer Service Learning Program and as manager of the Notre Dame softball team.

The Denny Moore Award for Excellence in Journalism was presented to Jonathan Warren. This award is given to a graduating senior who exemplify the qualities of Moore, a former Notre Dame associate vice president, who was known for his integrity, character, commitment to Notre Dame and writing ability.

Warren, an English major with minors in business economics and journalism, ethics and democracy, served as editor-in-chief of Scholastic, Notre Dame’s student magazine. He also serves as public relations director of The Shirt Project, producing content for the organization’s blog, writing news releases and handling overall design and marketing for the project, which raises more than $750,000 annually for student charities.