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Coleman Awards Honor Students for Leadership, Service

March 30, 2017

Laura Lemire
Communications and Marketing
(603) 641-7240

Maggie Walker and Amy Vachon, 2017 Coleman Award recipients
From left, Maggie Walker and Amy Vachon, Senior Coleman Award recipients

Nineteen Saint Anselm students were recognized on Wednesday, March 29 at the college's 24th annual Paul S. Coleman Volunteer Service and Leadership Awards for their exemplary commitment and impact to the Saint Anselm College community. The ceremony honors Coleman, a former Saint Anselm sociology professor, with numerous department service awards, and two senior awards, presented to recipients who embody his spirit.

Norma Dhanaraj, a 2009 graduate returned to the Hilltop to offer keynote remarks before the presentation of the awards. After developing a passion for service leadership as a student, Dhanaraj committed to a year-long service program with Franciscan Volunteer Ministry in Camden, N.J., followed by six years in New York City's Bronx neighborhood. Amid earning her master's in social work from Fordham University, Dhanaraj became immersed in her work with GEMS, an organization that serves young people who have survived commercial sexual exploitation and domestic sex trafficking. Having recently relocating to New Orleans, Dhanaraj is now focused on community organizing, with an emphasis on racial injustice, and building relationships in her new neighborhood.

Dhanaraj commended the awardees on their commitment to service-leadership, and encouraged all in attendance to continue their efforts in the years ahead.

Twelve students were nominated to receive the prestigious Senior Service Awards:

Carroll Bailey (nursing), Christine Balquist (English), Christine Drew (international relations), Margaret Harrington (education), Brenda Keys (nursing), Margaret Lynch (English), Danielle O'Neill (nursing), Kayla Patten (education), Courtney Puccio (nursing), Teresa Samson (biology), Amy Vachon (English, politics), and Maggie Walker (nursing).

Paul S. Coleman Senior Service Award for Outstanding Service Leadership
Maggie Walker, nursing

"Maggie is blessed with considerable determination and interpersonal savvy. She pushes hard to achieve her agenda, but she does it with a smile on her face and enough warmth that it is easy to get caught up with her passion," says Dan Forbes, director of the Meelia Center for Community Engagement. For three years, Walker managed the Meelia Center's engagement at the Sununu Youth Services Center after serving as a stand out volunteer there in her freshman year. A partnership that has been in existence for nearly 25 years, Walker's energy and direction helped to restore and expand the partnership, bringing career coaching and public achievement, a Democracy-in-action program back to the residents of Sununu.

An orientation leader and committee member, captain of the Dance Team, Service & Solidarity Missions participant and leader, and Passages pre-orientation program leader, Walker's leadership reaches far beyond the walls of the Meelia Center. "An extraordinary leader, full of passion, courage, and enthusiasm," says Forbes of Walker.

In further describing the second-semester senior nursing major, he says, "I learned firsthand what the face of determination looks like. Like all great campus leaders, Maggie is able to empower those around her and ensure that all voices are heard and appreciated."

Paul S. Coleman Senior Service Award for Outstanding Community Service
Amy Vachon, English, politics

"An all-around leader who is respected by her peers and classmates, she has proven again and again that she can be trusted to see projects through to completion, from the planning to the hands-on implementation of programs that benefit the entire campus," said Assistant Dean of Students Karlea Marie Joiner. Described as a student who "jumped into her college experience and immediately got involved," Vachon can be often be found in the Office of Admission, Campus Ministry, Student Activities and Leadership Programs, the Meelia Center for Community Engagement, the Dean of Students Office, at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics (NHIOP), working with the Student Government Association, and with community partners including Girls Inc., where she coordinates and supports the volunteer efforts of more than 20 Saint Anselm students.

Communicator, collaborator, problem solver. These are a few of the words used to describe Vachon by her peers and mentors. As an honors program student with a double major, she balances her various commitments, including serving her senior class as vice president. Her legacy will be felt for years to come, thanks to Vachon's role as an orientation leader and admission ambassador, where she "powered through the ranks" to serve as an intern during the fall semester of her senior year, even representing the college at a number of college fairs.

"She wants our community to be the best that it can be, and works to accomplish this, both in her leadership and service to the college, and through her desire to engage in all that Saint Anselm College offers," says Susan Gabert, director of Campus Ministry. "She has immersed herself in all that we are."

Department Service Awards

Michael Ryan '17 (history), Brian Stankiewicz '17 (accounting) Father Michael H. Custer, O.S.B. Service Award presented to an outstanding student in recognition of exemplary involvement and service to the Office of Admission and Saint Anselm College community. "Committed, passionate, leaders...Ambassadors full of confidence and ready to make an impact," says Sean Racine, assistant director of Admission and manager of the Admission Ambassador Program about this year's awardees.

Michael Ryan, a three-year Ambassador is a "jack of all trades" for the Office of Admission. Having participated in countless student panels and campus tours, it's not uncommon to find him in the office's living room, speaking with prospective students and their families. "His humor, charm, and intelligence have made him a favorite amongst our department's many guests," says Racine. A two-sport athlete, Ryan has "taken advantage of much that Saint Anselm has to offer, and shared his story with many who eventually came to call Saint A's home."

"He is a master of pacing himself," Racine says of Brian Stankiewicz. The cross-country runner vowed during his interview with the Office of Admission to always show up, do what was asked of him, and help out whenever needed. To that point, Racine says: "I have never seen someone as reliable as Brian." A familiar face on campus during the summer and semester breaks, Stankiewicz is among the most dedicated ambassadors who offer campus tours and support the administrative staff when the college is not in session. "His attitude, his quiet confidence, and his selfless leadership...will be a measurement by which future Ambassadors will have to prove themselves by," says Racine.

Rose Mooney '17 (environmental studies, Spanish) The Donna M. Guimont Service Leadership and Engagement Award presented to an outstanding student athlete in recognition of exemplary community service and involvement. "To say that she has been involved in the campus community would be the greatest understatement of them all," says Mooney's field hockey coach, Carolyn King Robitaille. Voted co-chair of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee, and two-time captain of the field hockey team, her passion for athletics is equaled by what she does off the field. A Service & Solidarity Missions participant and leader, Meelia Center volunteer and NHIOP student ambassador, Mooney has "woven herself into the fabric of our Saint Anselm which she has shared and dedicated her time, energy, and love."

Margaret Lynch '17 (English) Campus Ministry Leadership Award recognizes the ministry-leadership of a student for sharing their time, talents, and grace. "A steady presence," is how Campus Ministry director Susan Gabert describes Lynch. "A leader among leaders," she has guided her peers on the Road for Hope, Service & Solidarity Missions, Campus RENEW, Anselmian 360, and as an altar server and head Sacristan on Wednesday and Sunday night Masses. Impacting the spiritual lives of countless Anselmians, she is passionate about her own faith, and selflessly gives of herself while helping her peers along their spiritual journeys.

Bethany Gabert '17 (social work) Sr. Pauline Lucier Campus Ministry Award presented to an outstanding member of Campus Ministry in recognition of exemplary community service and involvement. Road for Hope participant, Service & Solidarity Missions participant, retreat program leader, Parish Outreach retreat leader, Campus RENEW faith sharing group leader, Anselmian 360 leader, college choir member, "it's hard to think of something Campus Ministry that Beth isn't involved with," says Joycelin Raho. "But she doesn't need the 'leader' title to feel a responsibility to journey with her peers closer to God." Students have reflected that they can feel God working in her and speaking through her, a true embodiment of Sr. Pauline's legacy.

Courtney Puccio '17 (nursing) Dean of Student's Award for Service Leadership. "Guide, leader, mentor, cheerleader, Anselmian enthusiast, health provider, sponsor, and friend," says Dean of Students Alicia Finn, who further describes Puccio as someone who "consistently seeks ways to improve the experiences for students, her fellow majors, the organizations she leads, and certainly her friends." A Service & Solidarity participant, New Student Orientation Committee chairwoman, president of the Seton Society, co-chair of the Relay for Life committee and co-chair of the Food, Clothing & Furniture Drive (FCF), Puccio's service-leadership has affected Anselmians in a multitude of ways, put best by a friend who shared the following: "Her leadership and friendship...has greatly impacted my time at Saint Anselm. She is a natural leader through words and actions."

Access Academy: Omri de Pierre de Alpuche (biology), Zach Procek (English), Donald Stokes (politics), Hailey Grant (English), Christine Drew (international relations) The Meelia Center for Community Engagement's Partnership Award presented in recognition of exemplary community service and involvement. Among the more than 50 local non-profit organizations that partner with the Meelia Center, the center's director, Dan Forbes describes the 2016-17 year for Access Academy as "transformative." The seniors recognized in this year's awards are among the 20 Anselmians who manage seven afterschool programs for refugee, immigrant, and underrepresented high school students from Manchester. "Each recipient has dedicated themselves to these amazing young high school students who are working hard to create a brighter future for themselves," says Forbes.

Donald Stokes '17 (politics) Multicultural Center Service Leadership Award presented to an outstanding student whose leadership efforts have fostered a greater appreciation and advancement of diversity and inclusiveness in the Saint Anselm community. Stokes has been involved in the Multicultural Center since his first day of new student orientation, and "has worked hard to promote social justice and diversity through advocating for both his community, and the communities of his friends and peers." A member of the President's Steering Committee on Diversity and Inclusiveness he has also served as a leader on the Unity Retreat, Transitions Program, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Planning Committee.

Marc Tetreault, Jr. '17 (politics) Annual Volunteer Award presented to an outstanding NHIOP student leader in recognition of exemplary involvement and community service. Marc "has consistently gone above and beyond in the work he does for the Institute," since joining the ambassador program his freshman year. He has co-chaired the community outreach committee, helping coordinate the ambassador's involvement in the Christmas Fair, the Valentine's Day Dance, Relay for Life and Operation Care for Troops. During his junior year, Tetreault was selected to chair the ambassador program, all while balancing academics, his work for the IT department, and studying for the LSATs.

John "JJ" Courtney '17 (accounting) New Student Orientation Volunteer Award in recognition of exemplary community service and leadership involvement. When a recently accepted orientation leader stopped in to the Student Activities and Leadership Programs office, she stated to Courtney: "you were the reason I applied to be an orientation leader." His passion for the New Student Orientation program is evident not only to his peers, but to first-year students as well. "JJ's love for Saint Anselm shines in everything he does," says Arlene Thompson of Student Activities and Leadership Programs. "His passion for this program is evident at all times." A three-year participant in the program, Courtney "has not only fulfilled his role in the program, but demonstrates, almost on a daily basis, a love for being an OL like no one else ever has."

The Green Team, led by Emily Alexander '17 (environmental science), Carina Pearson '17 (environmental science), and Sam Whalen '18 (English) was recognized with the Club and Organization Volunteer Award for outstanding service by Mitch Steffey, assistant director of Student Activities and Leadership Programs. The Green Team has hosted speakers, movie nights, partnered with a number of non-profit and state organizations, collaborated with Campus Ministry, the Student Government Association, the Quatrain, the biology department, the theology department and others. They have organized several campus clean-up days, and participated in numerous service opportunities. The club continues to advocate for the implementation of water bottle refilling stations across campus, and are pushing for the expansion of recycling bins in all campus buildings. "The Green Team is a perfect example of passionate student servant leadership and Anselmian values," says Steffey.

Story and photo by Cory True '09

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