Occidental students, staff and faculty celebrate the annual tradition of Student Leadership Awards.
Outstanding student leaders, organizations and staff mentors across campus are being honored this year with testimonials from their nominators. Sponsored by the Division of Student Affairs, this year’s students were nominated by staff and faculty within three categories: Endowed Awards, Individual Leadership Awards, and Student Organization & Programming Awards.
These awards recognize outstanding first‐years, sophomores and one junior for their commitment to the campus community with a scholarship.
The Cynthia Cox Memorial Award is given to outstanding sophomore students who exhibit high scholarship and moral character as well as contributions to student life and the general welfare of the College.
Divya “DJ” Prakash ’23
In addition to being Opinions Editor, DJ is also a staff writer for the Occidental student newspaper. She aspires to be a journalist that reports the truth and informs the community, and she carries this integrity with her in her reporting of NELA and campus. She enjoys uncovering stories that have been pushed to the side and aren’t always told, and interacting with the community to find these stories. - Radha Arora ’23
Oliver To ’23
Through his ongoing leadership, Oliver is creating important space for students to engage in deep personal reflection about their values, beliefs and worldview and how they can live out their commitments through their daily decisions and as they consider their future vocation. He facilitates difficult reflective conversations with much deliberation and thoughtfulness. Oliver is genuinely kind and possesses much integrity. - Rev. Dr. Susan Young, Director for Religious and Spiritual Life
The Charles W. List Award recognizes first-year students in the top third of their class who have demonstrated leadership, character and personality, maturity of purpose and high ideals.
Hannah Christensen ’24
Hannah has demonstrated leadership in helping others to an amazing degree during her first year at Oxy. She campaigned and won the race to be a first-year ASOC senator. Instead of simply attending senate meetings and performing the bare minimum for this position, she has gone above and beyond. She takes the extra steps to make sure her classmates are informed and spreads information on a platform that's easy for first-year students to use. - Liz Frissell ’22
Mali Abel ’24
Mali is a fierce advocate for mental health, and despite the remote nature of this year, has gone to incredible lengths to create an inclusive community for first-year students. Beginning in the fall semester, Mali conceptualized and coordinated a Halloween party for other first-years. These little acts go a long way, and with so few opportunities for first-years to connect outside of academic spaces, I commend Mali for stepping out of her comfort zone to plan such an event. - Braedon Hatt ’22
The Daniel Stewart Hammack Memorial Award is given to an outstanding junior who has demonstrated high scholarship, strong moral character, loyalty to the ideals of the College, and contribution to student life and the welfare of the College.
Oli Vorster ’22
Oli is a champion of mental health advocacy relating to academic leniency, often serving as the sole voice of student representation on different academic administrative committees including the Academic Planning Committee. They play a key role in gathering student feedback to present to the College and the VP of Academic Affairs. - Braedon Hatt ’22
Maddie Solomon ’22
No person has embarked on so many opportunities or interests, or shown as much passion for a variety of groups as Maddie has. Whether it has been her critical work on sexual assault advocacy, her contributions to on-campus spiritual dialogue, or her embodiment of public service values, she has demonstrated a passion for making Occidental spaces more welcoming, community-oriented, and equitable. - Collin Nascimento ’22
Individual Leadership Awards
The Emerging Student Leader of the Year award honors an outstanding first-year or sophomore student who exhibits strong leadership potential early on in their time at Occidental.
Tzu Kit Chan ’23
Tzu is highly active in the entrepreneurship scene at Oxy. He took over the Oxypreneurship Club, and is pushing to rebuild Oxy entrepreneurial opportunities such as reviving J Term and strengthening Hameetman Career Center connections. He is also a social lion. In every new initiative he started, he worked with a diverse group of people and hit it off with them from the get-go. As a friend, he has an absolutely magnetizing charisma that makes working with him not only great from a goal-achieving standpoint, but simply a genuine pleasure. This speaks to his multiplicity and drive to grow, which is inspiring. - Arirudh Krishnakumar ’23
The Capstone Student Leader of the Year award is given to a student in their junior or senior year that has demonstrated a capacity for impacting the Oxy community and has served as a role model to younger students.
JP Flores ’21
JP is a true leader at Occidental. He is one of the organizers of SEAS (Students for Equity and Advocacy in STEM) and BEAR (Biology Equity and Action Representatives) Coalition and has worked tirelessly with the biology faculty to suggest and implement changes in our department, in addition to mentoring younger students. His leadership and his perspective as a first-generation college student and as a person of color has been invaluable to us, the faculty and our students. - Robin Hamilton, Associate Dean of Admission
Student Organization & Programming Awards
Student organizations are one of the main places where students can really shape the Oxy campus, both through programming and having the opportunity to take on leadership.
Student Organization of the Year Award
Armenian Student Association - Serena Pelenghian ’21, president
These students are smart, passionate, incredibly respectful, caring and compassionate. I lost count of how many times in the last year a colleague reached out to me following an interaction with ASA, just to share how wonderful the group is to work with. In my opinion, ASA embodies the ideal Oxy organization—committed, passionate, and excellent stewards of service, to their members, their peers, their community, and to their cultural heritage. - Luci Masredjian, Director of Disability Services & Student Support
Breakout Program of the Year Award
TigerCatch - Colin Nascimento ’22, founder
TigerCatch is the pinnacle of what a successful breakout program should be: a campus-wide program by and for the students that helps bring people together who share common interests. It also is incredibly on brand with the Oxy experience, including door-holding culture and an emphasis on community. TigerCatch embodies all of Oxy’s core values, but especially Community and Service, owing to its ability to unify the school and constantly adapt and respond to feedback. It’s a perfect encapsulation of a student programming event that meets the moment. - Maddie Solomon ’22
Student Organization Advisor of the Year Award
Rev. Dr. Susan Young - Director, Religious and Spiritual Life
During this difficult and turbulent time, Susan has remained a constant pillar of emotional and spiritual support for not only Progressive Christians Uniting (PCU) members, but also the larger Oxy community. Whether it be sending out self-care packages or crafting meditative programs, Susan has consistently found ways to keep members of PCU engaged while simultaneously welcoming in new first-year members. Through her commitment to the club, she has helped create a space where students can come as they are and find a loving, genuine community. In a world where we are all "zoomed" out, PCU with Susan has remained the one space I look forward to weekly. - Oliver To ’23
Supervisor of the Year Award
Victor Chico - Department Manager, Postal Operations Center
The mail room at Occidental functions so well. The staff is so friendly and professional. Victor has trained his staff well. A well functioning mail room touches and enhances most every office at Occidental. We are so fortunate to have Victor’s expertise, support and supervision. - Will Morris, Coordinator of Community Wellness