Clapping and cheering rang throughout the Lydia Mendelssohn Theater yesterday as students and University community members gathered to honor fellow peers for their positive impact on the University community.

Shabina Khatri
Dean of Students Ed Willis presents the Outstanding Student Leader award to Hellenic Student Association President Konstantinos Ghirtis.

The 24th Annual Michigan Leadership Awards recognized outstanding new members, student leaders and organizations and programs and advisors of the year for their dedication and commitment to enhancing the University community. The Student Legacy and the Tapestry awards, given for outstanding student leadership, were also recognized.

Provost Paul Courant opened the awards ceremony by reflecting on the importance of learning and gaining knowledge over and beyond the achievements in classrooms.

“The connection between the classroom and the world … is a seamless connection,” Courant said. He added that leaders need to be visionaries and become the shapers of identity and citizenship.

The Society of Women Engineers, one of five outstanding student organizations recognized, is a non-profit educational service organization dedicated to promoting the need for women engineers.

“We are deeply honored,” said Brooke Bunnell, Engineering sophomore and SWE co-chair of young interest. “Our society has grown over the years. It grows everyday.”

“We not only have female members, but also male members,” said Evita Nedelkoska, Engineering junior and vice president of SWE. “We have support from every gender.”

LSA senior Thomas Vazquez, one of the outstanding student leaders and an advisor of the year, said it was a great honor to be recognized by the University.

“I’ve had a lot of great opportunities to work with great organizations and students,” Vazquez said. “I feel that so many individuals, within the students of color, should also be recognized for their work.”

Aundrea Johnson, speaker of the Black Student Union, was awarded as one of the outstanding student leaders for her dedication to diversity at the University.

“I have been granted the opportunity to build something meaningful and positive for black students at the University of Michigan, and have joined the legacy of so many other people who have taken their turn in uplifting our black people,” Johnson said.

The Muslim Students Association, an outstanding student organization winner, works to bring its members – from a variety of racial and ethnic backgrounds – together to create a sense of community.

LSA senior and MSA community affairs chair Rima Makhiawala said such recognition from the University is encouraging.

“Most of the people recognized do these things not looking for recognition, so it’s extra special,” Makhiawala said. “You do it for the goodness of the heart and because you are passionate about it.”

“It’s a nice pat on the back,” Makhiawala added. “Hearing what other students have done … you realize that there’s more to be done.”

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