Division of Student Affairs recognizes outstanding student leaders

Author: Ann Hastings

30th Annual Student Leadership Awards Banquet 

The University of Notre Dame’s Division of Student Affairs recognized seven students at the 30th annual Student Leadership Awards Banquet on Thursday (April 7). 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 Maggie Skoch, from Mentor, Ohio.

Motivated by her own experiences, Skoch has been a prominent advocate for mental health awareness and education in the University community. She served as president of NAMI-ND, where she was an integral planner of Notre Dame’s Mental Illness Awareness Week, which won an award for Outstanding Club Event/Program of the Year in the 2014-15 academic year. Skoch also created opportunities for her peers to have monthly conversations about mental health through the “Espresso Your Mind” program, and has served as a member of the University’s Healthy Campus Coalition.

The theology and Arts and Letters pre-health major and Breen-Phillips Hall resident has also been involved as a music mentor and director for Notre Dame’s ND Vision program, demonstrating her deep spirituality, sharing her tremendous gift for music and inspiring people to explore their faith.

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 Colleen McLinden from Lakewood, Ohio.

Through work in service and legislative advocacy, McLinden, a theology major and Cavanaugh Hall resident, has embodied the principles of Catholic Social Teaching during her time at Notre Dame. As a sophomore, she led a group of students working to change policy at the state level for formerly incarcerated people to gain access to food assistance. A regular in the South Bend Catholic Worker community, she has engaged low-income residents regarding the accessibility of fresh produce at the Monroe Park Co-Op. Her volunteer service in Chile, as well as her work for Catholic Relief Services, have allowed her to serve at a global level by raising awareness on global pandemics, fundraising for additional resources and engaging her peers in prayer for global solidarity.

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 Preston Igwe from Houston.

Igwe, a sociology and Arts and Letters pre-professional major, has been deeply involved with various Notre Dame student organizations, employing an inclusive and collaborative approach to his leadership. He has served as president of Wabruda, a club that works to promote brotherhood and leadership among black men on campus. He has also served as a member of Diversity Council and the Black Student Association.

An integral planning partner of the Black Man’s Think Tank program, Igwe has encouraged dialogue and conversation among his peers on campus. Through his work with Multicultural Student Programs and Services, he has been an ambassador for that office, as well as for the University, often hosting visiting students and sharing his experience at Notre Dame. His work in the local community has brought his Notre Dame peers and South Bend high school students closer together by inspiring the students and opening the minds and hearts of his classmates.

The Blessed Basil Moreau, C.S.C., Leadership Award was awarded to William Harris from Dallas. 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 Siegfried Hall resident and mechanical engineering major is known as a faith-filled, compassionate leader. His myriad contributions to spiritual life on campus can be seen in his work for ND Vision, as a ministry coordinator in both the Basilica and Siegfried Hall, and as a retreat coordinator for Campus Ministry. He spearheaded the planning of this year’s March for Life event, which, originally to be attended in Washington, D.C., was thanks in large part to Harris’ leadership able to be held successfully on campus for more than 800 faculty, staff and students.

Alison O’Connor, from Wyckoff, New Jersey, 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.

An electrical engineering major and McGlinn Hall resident assistant, O’Connor’s impact on her hall community has been substantial. As president of McGlinn Hall, she has worked to bring the women in her community together through programming and athletics by participating on and leading multiple interhall and all-campus athletic teams, motivating her hall to win the women’s interhall sports award, the Kelly Cup. She has created events such as the Shamrock Hour, an event series that allows the women of the hall to discuss sensitive topics in an inclusive environment. Her impact outside of McGlinn Hall can be seen in her work for the Leprechaun Legion, a student club supporting Notre Dame Athletics, and in her various service projects in the local community and abroad.

Meredith Fraser from Weston, Florida, 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 striving to bring the best out of themselves and others.

Fraser, a biological sciences and Italian major, has been committed to fostering inclusion and spirit in residential life at Notre Dame since her first year on campus. She is the current co-chair of Hall Presidents Council and former president of Ryan Hall. As president of Ryan, she brought new traditions to the hall, such as Kind Kats and ROAR Week, aimed at empowering Ryan Hall residents, building community and engaging students who did not feel like they are part of the hall community. As co-chair of Hall Presidents Council, she initiated “Reel in a Resident,” a program in which hall leaders are called each week to reach out to residents struggling in their communities and find ways to engage them.

The Denny Moore Award for Excellence in Journalism was presented to Maggie Bowers, from Wilmington, Delaware. 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.

Bowers, a political science and film, television and theatre major, is the editor-in-chief of 2015-16 The Dome yearbook, and has strived to make the 352-page book both relevant and compelling for her peers. She has been an effective supervisor of a large staff, mobilizing them over a seven-month period to cover talked-about campus topics such as the decision to resume purchasing University licensed apparel from a limited number of factories in China, the Green Dot bystander intervention program and the impact of the new residence halls on the campus community.