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Student Affairs Honors Students with Leadership Awards

Author: Paul Murphy

Student Leadership Award

The University of Notre Dame’s Division of Student Affairs recently recognized six students with leadership awards. Five were students in the College of Arts and Letters.

Ray Siegfried Award for Leadership Excellence

Kayla A. Bishop received this award, which is is given to a Notre Dame senior who exemplifies the qualities of the 1965 graduate and former Board of Trustees member who was known for his leadership, generosity, devotion to the Catholic faith, and affinity for athletics.

Bishop served as captain of Notre Dame’s women’s rugby, women’s boxing, and the Howard Hall football team, leading the Ducks to back-to-back football championships in 2009 and 2010. She frequently participated in daily Mass and weekly adoration and was involved in an Emmaus faith-sharing group.

The accountancy and theology major volunteered with the Early Childhood Development Center, the Read to a Child Program, Rebuilding Together, and Camp Scully, an overnight camp for troubled and economically disadvantaged youth.

Denny Moore Award for Excellence in Journalism

Lincroft, N.J., native Erica Pepitone won this award, which recognizes a graduating senior who exemplifies the qualities of the former Notre Dame associate vice president who was widely known for his personal integrity, character, commitment to the University, and writing ability.

Pepitone, an English and psychology major, served as copy editor, copy chief, and editor-in-chief of Scholastic magazine. Under her direction, the magazine’s issues featured thoughtful, well-written, and well-designed coverage of a variety of complex topics important to the Notre Dame community.

Pepitone also worked for the Writing Center and as a tutor for elementary school children. She plans to attend graduate school at Trinity College in Dublin.

Sister Jean Lenz, O.S.F., Leadership Award

This honor, given to a post-baccalaureate student who displays leadership in promoting a more diverse and inclusive campus community, was awarded to Jacqueline Pimentel-Gannon of Indianapolis.

Pimentel-Gannon dedicated two years of her life to work as a third grade teacher in Dallas, Texas as part of the Alliance for Catholic Education and served as an assistant rector in Pasquerilla West. In the last four years, she volunteered with South Bend’s Big Brother’s Big Sisters Program, Meals on Wheels, and La Casa de Amistad where she sponsored a Christmas giving tree for families through the Hispanic Law Student Association.

Working with Notre Dame’s Legal Aid Clinic, she spearheaded the Small Business Pro Bono Project that assists area small businesses with legal and business needs.

Pimentel-Gannon majored in economics, political science, and Spanish in the College of Arts and Letters, before completing her M.Ed. at Notre Dame in 2007. She became a quadruple-Domer with her joint M.B.A./J.D. degree, awarded in May.

Rev. A. Leonard Collins, C.S.C. Award

Chemical and biomolecular engineering major Nick Ruof was awarded this honor, which recognizes a graduating senior who makes a substantial personal effort to advance the interest of students at Notre Dame. The Fresno, Calif., native served as Carroll Hall senator, chair of the Residence Life Senate Committee, and chief of staff for Student Government.

In addition to spending two years lobbying for light installation on McGlinn Fields, Ruof also worked toward expanding student rights through the “du Lac” revision process, improving the dining hall experience, and ensuring student safety on campus.

Blessed Basil Moreau, C.S.C., Leadership Award

The award, established in 2010, is given to a graduating senior who embodies Blessed Father Moreau’s vision of educating heart and mind as well as a one who demonstrates a significant effort to advancing the Catholic character of the University. This year’s winner was Samuel Russ.

The theology and pre-professional studies major and Eagan, Minn., native served as a Resident Assistant in Carroll Hall, Notre Dame Encounter board member and team leader, Campus Ministry commissioner, PILLARS peer educator and Freshman Retreat leader. He also founded and was commissioner for the 24-hour Food Fast for Haiti.

Russ has also devoted an extensive amount of time to service work such as flood relief in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, volunteering at an orphanage in Mexico, and participating in an international summer project in Guatemala.

John W. Gardner Student Leadership Award

Management entrepreneurship major Gabrielle Tate of Orland Park, Ill., is the 2011 winner of this award, which honors a student who exemplifies the ideals of Notre Dame through volunteer service beyond the University community.

In her first year of study at Notre Dame, Tate discovered the Center for the Homeless in South Bend and began tutoring several young children. She went on to begin a Sunday Spanish class at the Center and assisted adult Center guests with GED preparation.

Tate, who also received a minor in education, schooling and society, taught physical education at St. Adalbert’s Catholic Grade School.

During the summer, Tate worked at a treatment center in Illinois analyzing the effectiveness of medical tests on autistic children as well as assisting with a class of lower-functioning children with autism. Tate went on to create The Puzzle Challenge, a campus event that raises autism awareness.

Serving as race director for three years for the Holy Half Marathon, Tate has helped raise more than $30,000 to benefit a wide range of charities. The 2011 race is estimated to have raised nearly $20,000, benefiting St. Adalbert’s, Michiana Down Syndrome and the Center for the Homeless.

Tate plans to take a full-time teaching position with Teach for America.

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