St. Edward's announces Presidential Award recipients
St. Edward's University Presidential Awards are presented each year to a select group of graduates from Undergraduate College, New College and the graduate programs who have excelled in leadership, scholarship and service.
Recipients of the Presidential Award have participated fully in the life of the university and have been a positive influence in promoting the mission and values of St. Edward's and the Congregation of Holy Cross.
Students are nominated for Presidential Awards by members of the St. Edwards University community. Nominees submit comprehensive applications to the Presidential Awards Committee, which is coordinated by the Student Life Office and composed of students, faculty and staff. The committee makes recommendations to the president of St. Edward's University.
The 2005-2006 Presidential Award winners are:
Linus N. Akanoh, Jr.
Linus N. Akanoh, Jr., has done the math - he's figured out how to turn numbers into success both in and out of the classroom.
As an Accounting Information Technology major, Linus earned two undergraduate degrees, one in Accounting and the other in Computer Information Systems. He served as president of the university's Accounting Club, received the 2005 International Center of Austin Education Award and Scholarship, and was named the 2004-2005 Outstanding Computer Information Science Student. In 2004, he participated in a 12-week internship with University Federal Credit Union, studying day-to-day operations and making recommendations to improve work flow.
At the 2005 Texas Academy of Science annual meeting, Linus co-presented original research on fraud detection techniques and won third place, becoming one of the first business students to win an award from the academy. He also was a member of the team that took first place at the 2005 Ethics in Business Match, a debate competition open to
One of his professors said, "Linus identifies a problem, researches alternative solutions and conveys his conclusions in clean and concise terms."
Eric J. Allen
Eric J. Allen wasn't sure what to expect when he enrolled in his first New College class in 2002. Having spent the last decade working as a political correspondent on television, he didn't know how his practical experience would be useful in adjusting to performance in the classroom.
His prior career served him well as he pursued an undergraduate degree in Political Science while keeping a busy schedule as a husband, father, journalist and community member. While maintaining a 4.0 GPA and working two jobs, he found time to serve as a tournament judge for high school speech and debate competitions for the University Interscholastic League and as a campaign volunteer for the Williamson County Democratic Party.
Last December, he was accepted into the University of Texas-Austin School of Law. He plans to study corporate and international law and eventually run for political office.
One of his professors said, "Eric exemplifies all that we hope for in a student at St. Edward's. He is a serious, creative and energetic scholar who produces excellent results for both his own learning and development and that of his fellow students and professors."
Stacy M. Allen
She may be an International Relations major, but Stacy M. Allen has not overlooked the problems at home.
She has been active in campus life issues relating to social justice. She served as chair of the Students of African Heritage Association, working closely with the Office of Undergraduate Admission to increase recruitment among African-American high school students. Stacy also worked with Student Life to enhance Black Heritage events programming, and she helped found the Student Alumni Association, serving as chair of their recruiting committee.
In 2004, she was one of 150 college students selected from around the country to participate in Oxfam's Change Initiative in Boston. This annual week-long conference seeks to educate and empower college students with information on how to engage their communities in advocating for social justice issues. In 2006, Stacy researched and planned the university's first student diversity forum.
A staff member said, "Stacy is a young woman of great intelligence, depth, maturity and compassion. Her passion about issues like equity, education, global security and social justice are indicative of her warm spirit and interest in truth and inclusion."
Gustavo Adolfo Alonso
Before arriving at St. Edward's, Gustavo Adolfo Alonso, a first-generation college student, had spent his summers working in the fields as a migrant worker. But after completing his freshman year as a College Assistance Migrant Program student, he knew two things: he did not want to go back to the fields, and he wanted to help other migrant workers.
He was one of the first participants in the Accounting Information Technology major and graduated with two degrees: a BBA in Accounting and a BA in Computer Information Systems. He was a recipient of the McNair Scholarship. He participated in the Community Mentor Program, served as facilitator for the College Assistance Migrant Program and was president of the Hispanic Student Association. He also arranged a campus visit by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers to speak about their
boycott of Taco Bell.
In 2003, Gustavo participated in a 10-week "Into the Fields" internship in North Carolina as a part of Student Action with Farmworkers, a leadership development program in which college students help migrant workers improve their living and working conditions.
One of his advisors said, "Gustavo has achieved more in his time at St. Edward's than several students put together. He has done so with concern for others in his heart - he embodies all that a Holy Cross education is about."
Amyn Rehman Dhamani
Education and finance are important to Amyn Rehman Dhamani.
While focusing on his MBA in Global Finance, he received a Presidential Fellowship, the Alpha Sigma Lambda academic scholarship, and the School of Management and Business Graduate Students scholarship. As he completed his graduate coursework, he worked full-time at a semiconductor company and juggled two part-time jobs.
Outside the classroom, Amyn served as a volunteer for Houston's Partnership Walk, which raises awareness about international development and celebrates global diversity. He also conducted workshops in time management and trained educators in content and pedagogies at the Ismaili Religious Education Center in Austin. Somehow Amyn also found time to do editorial work for two textbooks: Introduction to Corporate Finance and Strategic Management: Competitiveness and Globalization.
Amyn's professors say that he has a natural ability to teach, is caring and dedicated to helping others, and wants to make a positive difference in the lives of those around him.
Jake K. McCook
When Jake K. McCook arrived at St. Edward's, he knew he wanted to make a difference.
While earning an undergraduate degree in Political Science with an emphasis in International Relations, Jake served as an executive board member of the Student Government Association. He worked to increase student participation in SGA and other campus organizations, and he wrote articles for Hilltop Views, the student newspaper, exhorting his fellow students to be politically active and environmentally sensitive. In 2004, he organized a university-wide computer recycling effort. He was awarded a Brown Scholarship, and for the community service project required by that scholarship, he worked to improve the availability and use of recycling bins across campus. He also attended the 2004 Democratic National Convention as a correspondent for Hilltop Views.
In 2005, he participated in a United Nations Association internship in Washington, D.C., and used the experience to found the United Nations Student Alliance at St. Edward's - an organization for college students interested in international diplomacy and multilateral institutions.
One of his professors commented, "Jake is an advocate for change who has contributed in many ways to campus life at St. Edward's and to the Austin community as a leader and a tireless worker."
Monica Ramirez, a College Assistance Migrant Program scholar and a first-generation college student, arrived at St. Edward's determined to improve herself and help others.
As she earned her undergraduate degree in Biology and studied in the pre-med program, Monica was active in the student community. She served as president, vice president and historian for the Academic Society for the Advancement of Minority Students in Medicine and as community service coordinator for the Hispanic Student Association.
Off campus, Monica joined in the César Chávez March, the Martin Luther King Jr. March and the March Against the Death Penalty. She also traveled to Peru as part of the university's Peru Immersion Experience, and she helped doctors and nurses provide physical examinations for orphans with disabilities in Mexico.
Monica is a recipient of the McNair Scholarship, the St. Catherine National Achievement Medal Award, the Brother Daniel Lynch Community Service Scholarship and the St. Edward's University Scholarship.
One of her professors said, "Monica leads effectively by setting a good example, being creative and adaptive, and having the ability to approach people of all ages and circumstances."
Despite a long and fulfilling career as a graphic designer and visual communication instructor, Valerie Thatcher was intent upon expanding her knowledge in the field of communication studies. Combining St. Edward's University's New College program with a traditional Communication major, she returned to school full-time with renewed enthusiasm.
Relying upon grants, scholarships and loans to sustain her, Valerie completed seventeen Prior Learning Portfolios in less than two years. She was awarded the Lucy Baines Johnson Endowed Scholarship for New College students, maintained a 4.0 GPA and graduated summa cum laude. While at St. Edward's, Valerie co-founded P4: Power of People Praying for Peace, a general political action committee that resulted in the creation of an Austin peace rally and march. She also studied political theory at Middlesex University in London, England.
As one of her advisors said, "She embodies the beauty and strength of the St. Edward's University mission and the New College program. Valerie is one of those rare individuals who takes life's challenges and makes them into opportunities for development."
She has been accepted into the Graduate School of Communications at the University of Texas-Austin and plans to study Political Communication at the masters
and doctoral level.
Ernesto Escareño Vela
When Ernesto Escareño Vela arrived at St. Edward's, he had only lived in the United States for two years and spoke very little English.
As a College Assistance Migrant Program scholar, Ernesto double majored in Accounting and Computer Information Science through the Accounting Information Technology program. He served as vice president and community service coordinator for the Hispanic Student Association and as an orientation facilitator for the College Assistance Migrant Program. He co-founded a new student organization: the St. Edward's University Mariachi Alas De Oro. He also stayed active in another Mariachi group, Imagen Norteña, and in the university's Ballet Folklórico.
Ernesto was active off campus, too - he presented research on data-mining tools at the University of Maryland as a McNair Scholar and at the 2005 conference of the Association of Latino Professionals in Finance and Accounting. He was one of 20 students selected to attend the 12th Annual Hispanic College Fund Scholarship Gala in Washington, D.C.
One of his professors said, "Ernesto seized opportunities at St. Edward's and forged a path for himself to great success."
Amie Lynne Wilson
When Amie Lynne Wilson entered New College in 2004, her plan was to finish an undergraduate degree that she had started eight years earlier at a community college, but she managed to accomplish much more.
Amie maintained a 4.0 GPA in the New College PACE Organizational Communication major while holding a full-time job and raising her two sons as a single parent. She has also been active in a variety of volunteer roles.
She served as the supply coordinator for several "Give Kids a Smile" events, held annually in February at various dental schools in the southeast to provide dental care for economically challenged children. Amie is a communications volunteer with the United Way of Williamson County. She spends time once a week at Exploring Minds Day School, and she helps students at Pflugerville High School with semiannual economics projects.
One of her professors said, "Amie always goes above and beyond what is expected and leads others by example."
Christiane Woodley Erwin
Christiane Woodley Erwin knows how busy life can get when you're trying to juggle being a full-time graduate student, single mother of two children and an entrepreneur. She didn't let any of these different roles slow her down on the road to getting her Master of Liberal Arts degree with a concentration in Humanities.
Christiane, a recipient of the St. Edward's University Presidential Fellowship, served as the editor of New Literati, a literary journal for New College students and alumni. She presented two scholarly papers at the 2005 South/West Popular Culture Association Conference. She also presented her original research "Bringing Up Baby Alone: An Ethnographic Study of the Single Women Raising Generation X" at the 2005 Design Engaged Conference in Berlin, Germany.
Outside the classroom, Christiane volunteered with Latina Mami, a nonprofit organization that offers support and resources to Latina and Chicana mothers and their children, and with West Austin Caregivers, a volunteer service that provides support to elderly Austin residents. She also runs her own web services development firm.
"Christiane leads by doing," one of her professors commented, "She always seeks to set an example of community service for her own children."