Awards recognize student leaders, groups

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Last Wednesday, April 15, was the 29th annual Dr. Dorothy Pijan Student Leadership Awards Ceremony, an event where nominated students and student organizations were recognized for their contributions to and work around campus. The 22 awards highlighted a variety of aspects of campus organizations.

Students and groups were nominated in Jan. and Feb. 2015 then went through a selection process that concluded in a reception for all nominees and then the awards ceremony announcing winners.

Destinee Henton, senior and the president of the African American Society (AAS), had a part in four of the awards. She received the Glenn Nicholls Award for Ethical Leadership and the Outstanding Senior award, and AAS received Outstanding Student Organization of the Year and the Dignity of Difference Award.

“I think it’s important that our organization, for a cultural organization, was recognized as Organization of the Year, because I feel like a lot of times we’re overlooked for our accomplishments,” Henton said.

The African American Society organized a protest in honor of National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality, and they have helped create a dialogue on campus about race and identity.

She hopes that the African American Society winning the awards will empower some of the more silent members in their organization and let them know that they can make an impact on campus. She also wanted to recognize that lots of other cultural organizations have “taken the baton and are doing work now.”

Henton went on to say that receiving the award “sets a tone for the African American students on campus and just a pulse of working towards something greater. It encourages all organizations, even us, to take it to another level.”

The award for Outstanding Established Student Event or Program Series went to HackCWRU, a collaboration by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and the Hacker Society. This year, the event saw its number of attendees double, with participants coming from as far away as Maryland.

“We hope to break down the entry barrier into the tech field for students,” said Vice President of ACM Andrew Mason. “We tried to give students an opportunity for creativity that’s established in a setting that was stress-free, away from grades and professors, and just for fun.”

This year, HackCWRU was advertised towards people interested in creating something and not just students in the EECS department.

“Someone could literally come in off the street with no tech of their own and make something, as long as they had an idea of what they wanted to do. We even had people here that were able to offer help with the technical stuff,” Zach Hudson, vice president of IEEE, said. They hoped to let people see that there was an application to what they are learning in their classes.

Anton Spencer, senior, won the Patricia B. Kilpatrick Award for “building bridges, breaking down barriers, demonstrating Spartan spirit, and having genuine pride for attending CWRU.” Spencer has worked extensively this semester with Greek Life and the Order of Omega.

“I care about Case Western,” Spencer said. “So this wasn’t me being angry and complaining, because I want to make sure that those that come after me have a better experience than what I did. […] I see a problem and I’m going to fix it; I’m going to work to change it.”

Spencer advises others, “Find someone on campus to offer feedback and let you know what you’re doing well who’s not necessarily a student.”

He also urges other students to join a group and get involved on campus to help make the changes they want to see.