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USM Students Honored at Annual Awards Gala

On Friday, May 4, the University of Southern Maine Leadership Development Board and the Division of Student and University Life sponsored the annual Student Involvement Recognition Gala, celebrating the accomplishments of student leaders, student organizations and members of the faculty and staff who support the success of the university’s students. President Botman hosted a reception in the President’s House on the Gorham campus, and the award ceremony took place in Corthell Concert Hall.

This year’s student commencement speaker, Amanda Jennifer Pleau of Lewiston, was recognized at the event by USM’s Alumni Association.

The following students, listed alphabetically by hometown, were also recognized:

Hannah Schwenk-Sandau of Freeport is one of this year’s recipients of the Outstanding Student Leader Award. Schwenk-Sandau is majoring in Women & Gender Studies. She is the president of the Gender Studies Student Organization and has helped build the group into an activist organization that engages men, women and transgender students with programming on issues of sexual, gender, class and ethnic diversity. She has recently been selected to participate in the statewide Maine NEW Leadership Institute, and is graduating with honors this Saturday, May 12.

Ashley Tellier of Limington is one of the recipients of the Outstanding Student Employee Award. Since her first day in the Student Success Center, Tellier showed commitment to the office and an investment in the work they do. She was recognized for her dedication to improving student services and making the delivery of those services better. She is pursuing a self-design major that will lead to a Bachelor of Arts degree. Tellier is both a student leader and enthusiastic employee.

Daniel Crothers of Peaks Island is the recipient of the Outstanding Contribution to Community Service Award. Through the work of the Premedical and Health Student Society and the organization Aserela, Crothers, who is a biology major, has volunteered at Mercy Hospital, worked to help improve the lives of African immigrants in Portland and fundraised for the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital.

Mea Tavares of Portland is this year’s recipient of the Outstanding Contribution to Campus Diversity Award. Known for promoting diversity and civility on campus, Tavares, a theatre major, has worked as a student supervisor in the Center for Sexualities and Gender Diversity and with the Student Team Leaders in Portland Student Life. He was also one of the organizers of the student response to a recent visit by the Genocide Awareness Project on the Portland campus.

Si Khuu of Portland is one of the recipients of the Outstanding Student Employee Award. Khuu, whose major is computer science, was hired as the very first technology tutor through a partnership between The Learning Commons and Computing Services, and is recognized for having helped develop this service from its inception. He works with students one-on-one with a range of issues, and has developed USM’s first Technology “LibGuide.”

Christopher MacDonald of Saco received the Senior Husky Achievement Award. MacDonald is a School of Business student majoring in general management, who served USM as a resident assistant, and as a mentor with STRIVE U and the Big Brothers and Big Sisters. He also participated in the Relay for Life and the Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE), and as an admission student ambassador and a student success peer advisor. While participating in all these activities, he was able to be named to USM’s Dean’s List. He will graduate this Saturday, May 12.

Amanda Roderick of Westbrook received the Outstanding Contribution to Campus Life Award. Since Roderick’s experience as a first-year student in the Thoreau Entry Year Experience (EYE) course, she has served as a teaching assistant and mentor for other EYE students. She also has been involved in USM’s Outdoor Recreation Programs, giving students the opportunity for outdoor learning and growth. She is an English major and is recognized as a great asset to the EYE program, the Sullivan Athletic Complex and the university.

Jana Sacco of Niagara Falls, Ontario is one of this year’s recipients of the Outstanding Student Leader Award. Sacco, a biology major, is a four-year member, and this year’s captain, of the women’s ice hockey team. As an involved student leader on campus, she has been a part of Leadership and Development Board conferences, Relay for Life, the community service work of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee. She helped to create the CARE project to better the campus and local community with the message: “Courtesy, Attitude, Respect, Everywhere.”

Faculty and staff were also recognized at the event. Francesca Vassallo, co-chair of the History and Political Science Department, received the Outstanding Faculty involvement Award in recognition of her continued excellence in the classroom and her involvement ensuring the success of her students. Lee Anne Dodge, assistant director of Student Life, is the recipient of the Outstanding Staff Involvement Award in recognition for her efforts in always placing the best interests of the students first, and for her accepting, understanding demeanor.

Several USM groups and events also received awards for promoting diversity, community service and fun on campus and in the Portland community. Commuter Week, a four-day event held in mid-March, received the Outstanding Event of the Year; the Gorham Events Board received the Outstanding Student Organization Award; Students In Free Enterprise (SIFE) received the Outstanding Contribution to Community Service Award; and the Queer Straight Alliance received the Outstanding Contribution to Campus Diversity Award.