SGA 2015 Awards Banquet: an Evening of Excellence
The annual SGA Leadership Awards banquet proved to be a spectacular evening at the Ritz-Carlton hotel last Tuesday. Students, staff, faculty, administrators, and student organizations gathered to mingle, dine, and celebrate each other’s success in the Suffolk community.
“I think it’s nice to have a culminating event like this every year where so many people are recognized,” said President Norman Smith afterwards, “A lot of people work very hard throughout the year and this reminds them that it was worth it.”
SGA President Tyler LeBlanc shared a similar ideal in his opening speech, telling everyone present “You’ve all made a difference in my life.”
LeBlanc also stated that while Suffolk has become “a second home” for him over the past four years, he feels “as a community we have a lot to improve upon.” This has been the toughest of his four years, with a particularly tense atmosphere, said LeBlanc, but he thanked everyone for coming together for a night of excellence.
In the following speech, President Norman Smith applauded LeBlanc for his work as SGA president, saying he was one of the best student presidents Smith was able to work with throughout his 45 years in education. While Smith also said this was a particularly stressful year, he thanked those who “contribute to the quality of life” at Suffolk.
Members of SGA presented each category by reading the qualifications, the nominees, and then finally naming the winner. All award recipients were nominated by members of the Suffolk Community. Nominations are first narrowed down by a nominations committee and then voted upon by a meeting of club representatives.
The award for Outstanding New Student Organization went to HeForShe. HeForShe, founded by freshmen Sofia Lesko and Heidi Dumesich, strives to promote gender equality.
For Most Improved Student Organization, the Suffolk Environmental Club was the winner. The leaders of this club accepted the award, proudly recounting how they grew from a small organization to having over 100 likes on Facebook.
The award for Outstanding Student Organization went to Program Council. President Kelsey Johansen accepted the award along with the other E-board members, stating “we’re not an executive board, we’re a team.”
The award for Outstanding Administrator went to Jesse Beal of Diversity Services. Beal proudly accepted the award, stating “I’m going to put this next to my Harry Potter Lego collection.” Beal also humbly said she works with “the best students on earth.”
For Outstanding Senior, Kelsey Johansen accepted the award. Johansen shared that during her college career she transferred away from Suffolk, but returned because she enjoyed the people in the Suffolk community. “You’re the people who make Suffolk so great,” she said, “so don’t ever doubt yourself.
The Outstanding Junior award went to Wyatt Costello, who earlier in the year created a petition to suspend on-campus blood drives until the FDA repeals a law preventing gay and bisexual men from donating blood. During his acceptance speech, Costello spoke about the student body’s obligation to challenge injustice.
The remaining honors were awarded as follows:
- Outstanding College of Arts and Sciences Student: Michelle Rosenberg
- Outstanding CAS Faculty member: Rachel Cobb
- Outstanding Sawyer Business School Student: Maddie Egan
- Outstanding SBS Faculty member: Dean Laurie Levesque
- Outstanding Graduate Fellow: Meg Evangelista
- Outstanding Coach: Chris Glionna of the ice hockey team
- Outstanding Female Athlete: Iliana Quadri of the women’s basketball team
- Outstanding Male Athlete: Time Bendetto of the ice hockey team
- Outstanding International Student: An Wang
- Outstanding Transfer Student: Paula Dixon
- Outstanding Freshman: Nicholas DeSouza
- Outstanding Sophomore: Emma O. Feathers.
- Best Campus Sponsored Program: Dancing with the Stahs
- Best Student Sponsored Program: Greek Council’s Casino Night
- Exemplary Leadership Award: Ashley Groves
- Unsung Hero (students): Victoria Ireton
For faculty, the Unsung Hero award went to Timothy Albers of the Center for Community Engagement. Albers humbly stated “There’s nothing in my office that I do by myself,” crediting the student scholars and others who work towards the CCE’s goals.
SGA President Tyler LeBlanc also presented a Lifetime Achievement Honor to SBS Dean William J. O’Neil, Jr. LeBlanc said this honor goes to someone who has been at Suffolk for 15 to 20 years and has had a personal impact on his experience at Suffolk University. O’Neil was unable to attend the awards banquet, but left a statement saying he was thankful to be able to mentor students and have an impact on their lives.
The SGA Executive board took the stage behind LeBlanc as he continued, speaking now about the impact Vice President Colin Loiselle has had on their community. LeBlanc mentioned Loiselle’s positive attitude and eagerness to help. “You’ll always be a brother to me,” said LeBlanc, before passing the symbolic gavel to the new SGA president, elected earlier this semester.
After a “bittersweet” goodbye to the graduating president, Loiselle said he plans to “continue to move this university in a positive direction.”
Rakan Alzaydi, treasurer, and Dennis Harkins, secretary, also spoke about their time working on the E-Board with LeBlanc. Each of LeBlanc’s peers expressed gratitude for the leadership he has provided and the friendships they’ve built.
A number of entertaining performances were interspersed throughout the evening, including Zachary Barker and Thomas Burke of Suffolk’s improve comedy group Seriously Bent performing stand-up comedy. Suffolk Idol Contestant Antonio Philippe Roulet Magides sang a swing jazz song, and the Ramifications performed twice. The a cappella group sang “Some Kind of Wonderful” with Matthew Bittner as the lead, then closed the awards portion of the evening with “Get Away,” with Allison Wheeler as the lead.
The evening was concluded with a series of thanks to the SGA planning committee who organized the event, SGA advisor John Silveria, and SGA administrator Stephanie Cohen.