Student leaders win top honors

About 400 students, faculty and staff members gathered at the 17th annual Excellence in Student Life Awards Thursday night at the Smith Center to honor student leaders and organizations.

“Tonight celebrates a very important component of our University community,” President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg said in his welcoming address. He said GW is not exclusively committed to classroom achievements and strongly believes in honoring activities outside the classroom.

Vice President of Student and Academic Support Services Robert Chernak presented the highest leadership awards, the Baer Award for Individual Excellence, to six students.

“These students are being recognized for their individual excellence. Their contributions to student life transcend the activities of the organizations with which they are involved,” said Barbara Luchs, daughter of David A. Baer, for whom the award is named.

The six winners of the Baer award were junior Joshua Hiscock and seniors Benjamin Getto, Vanita Jindal, Roger Kapoor, Matt Kernkraut and Lee Lubarsky.

“This is a huge honor because it is celebrating overall excellence. It is nice to join in celebration with others for everyone’s accomplishments this year,” said Kernkraut, a Class Council member and former Colonial Inauguration cabinet member.

Awards presented to students and organizations included the
Outstanding Community Service award to senior Andrea Laepple for the Newswatch Television Program and the Joint Committee of Faculty and Students Scholarship for Student Leadership and Development Award to seven students, including sophomore Nell McGarity, editor in chief of the GW Blitz

JCFS Scholarship winners received $1,000.

The GW Blitz also received one of the Pyramid Awards for Registered Student Organizations, along with the Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance and Class Council.

“To finish off the year like this is something I never expected,” McGarity said.

Senior Theresa Saccardi, Class Council president, accepted the award for Class Council, which organized activities like the Midnight Breakfast and the Charity Ball this year.

“It was a huge honor for Class Council to be recognized for such an award,” Saccardi said. “We are an organization that is still learning and growing, but this year has been very exciting for us, as members have worked very hard to make Class Council permanently establish itself on campus.”

SAC sponsored the event and handed out awards in 10 categories to recognize student leaders for achievements in registered organizations.
SAC Director Laura Taddeucci said the recipients of the awards were then chosen by a committee of faculty, staff and students.
Students could nominate themselves for scholarships, and all award winners were nominated by someone in the GW community. A panel of University faculty and staff members selected the winners.

About 30 students won awards.

Eight student organization awards were given out by the Residence Hall Association, the Marvin Center Governing Board, Student Association, Cherry Tree Yearbook and the Program Board to honor outstanding individuals within their organizations. All organizations were able to give out awards, but only the above groups chose to.

Taddeucci said the awards presentation was “mirrored off of the Academy Awards,” which uses slide shows and video clips similar to ones used in the presentation Thursday.

The clips included students speaking about favorite memories from the year, the importance of community service, Greek-letter life, their favorite advisers and the meaning of excellence.

Sophomore hosts Shani George and Anthony Heisler praised students in organizations who made “outstanding contributions.”

Event organizers said they were happy with the way the evening turned out.

Taddeucci said she has received more positive phone calls and e-mails this year than in the past.

“The night was a phenomenal success,” Taddeucci said.

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