School News
Students honored at Student Affairs Leadership Award
By Austin College
May 11, 2018
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SHERMAN, TEXAS - Austin College’s top honors for campus leadership and student involvement were presented April 24 at the annual Student Affairs Leadership Awards dinner, which highlights the contributions to the campus community of a wide variety of individuals, organizations, and programs.

Students awarded are listed below along with their hometowns, parents, and awards received.

Arlington, Texas

Rachael Newsom of Arlington, Texas, is the 2018 Henry Bucher Global Citizen Award winner. This award recognizes the commitment to service and study in a global context of Dr. Henry Bucher, who served as Austin College chaplain for two decades and continues as an associate professor of humanities. She is the daughter of Bobby Newsome and Jan Duran

Rachael Newsom has been a significant part of the campus community for the last four years by serving on the Campus Activities Board, singing in the A Cappella Choir, and appearing in “Les Mis” in 2016, all the while compiling an excellent academic record that includes membership in Alpha Chi and Phi Betta Kappa. A professor who nominated Rachael mentions that she worked with underprivileged children in Costa Rica and Mexico, studied abroad in Spain and Argentina, and has the ability to put to use lessons learned in class at Austin College in real-world situations through service and cross-cultural understanding, which makes her the quintessential liberal arts student and an excellent representative of Henry Bucher’s ideals. Rachael has also been awarded a scholarship through Spain’s Ministry of Education to spend next year working with children in Spanish schools.

Corinth, Texas

Aneesa Vaidya was awarded the 2018 Outstanding Senior Women. The Senior Woman Award is presented to the graduating senior identified for scholastic achievements as well as co-curricular involvement, including membership and leadership in student organizations, committees, or athletic teams and participation in performing arts, intramurals, and community service. Aneesa has been very active in co-curricular activities during her Austin College career. As she has worked to complete a major in healthcare administration and a minor in biology, she has been involved in Pre-Health Society, the Indian Cultural Association, and Habitat for Humanity. She also was a member of the Homecoming Court, is a member of the Students Today, Alumni Tomorrow ambassador program, and serves on the Senior Committee. Her commitment to others has been seen through her work as a member of the Service Station Board and Alpha Phi Omega national service fraternity. Aneesa is the daughter of Manish and Seema Vaidya.

Corsicana, Texas

Femy Varghese was awarded the 2018 Robert M. Rogers Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service. Femy has an impressive record of service and was awarded the Robert M. Rogers Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service. Established by The Rogers Foundation in Tyler, Texas, the program recognizes students who have exhibited both significant service to their communities and outstanding academic performance. The award is made each year to a rising senior who has demonstrated leadership in volunteer service while excelling in the classroom.

This year’s recipient has displayed all those characteristics and more, the presenter said. As a Sara and Robert Hallam Citizen scholar here at Austin College, she had already demonstrated outstanding volunteer service before entering Austin College. Arriving here, she jumped right in and has been involved in Student Assembly, was awarded a GO! Fellowship, and serves on the Service Station Board.

“Serving has taught me to be a better person,” Femy says. It also has helped confirm her passion to become a doctor and serve people in need. She is completing majors in public health and business administration, is on the 2018 TEDxAustinCollege team, and much more.

Femy is the daughter of Joshy Varghese.

Dallas, Texas

Nicolas Rodriguez received the 2018 Goodloe Lewis Scholarship, established by Aramark to honor the long-time Austin College faculty and staff member. The award recognizes co-curricular leadership and involvement. Nicolas is highly involved on campus; aside from being pre-law, Nicolas is also mock trial co-captain, a part of the residence life staff, a tour guide for the campus, a Students Today, Alumni Tomorrow (STAT) ambassador, and a Sumners Scholar.

Nicolas is the son of Rolando and Haleh Rodriguez of Dallas, Texas,

Georgetown, Texas

Marcus Slonaker was awarded the 2018 Outstanding Freshman Award. The Outstanding Freshman award is presented to a first-year freshman student who has excelled in leadership and scholarship and who has demonstrated future leadership potential.

This year’s Outstanding Freshman arrived at campus last August fully ready to take on the challenges of his first year at Austin College. He already had a clear and inspiring plan in mind for his undergraduate career - to major in International Relations with the goal of pursuing a career in diplomacy, with his ultimate aim a profound one: to foster peace in the world and end war. During these past two semesters, he has quickly established himself as a dynamic student leader at AC: he serves on Student Assembly and the Clyce Hall Council, and it was he who conceived, planned and led the “Clean Your Plate: Help End Food Waste” initiative in our cafeteria this spring, as a member of the Student Council’s Food Service Committee (that initiative ultimately led to a 6.75% decrease in food waste on campus). He also is a member of Thinking Green, and was especially involved in the AC Unplugged event run by that organization during the fall, taking initiative to make sure energy saving practices have continued in his dorm even after the event has ended. He worked on the First We Serve event during freshman orientation, and the on-campus Special Olympics in January as part of his participation in JanServe. Next year, he will be a resident manager in the Roo Suites.

This student’s academic work is stellar, and he is considering a double or perhaps even a triple major, as he would like to expand his program to include his interests in religious studies, anthropology, and/or history. After graduation, he plans to serve in the Peace Corps, and then to attend graduate school in a topic related to peace and conflict studies. Ultimately, his goal is a career in diplomacy and government – he is especially interested in working in the Middle East. He says, “My career goal is to contribute as much as I possibly can to the achievement of world peace. I understand, however, that this is not a position that one can jump into overnight . . . Although the specifics of my career are still undetermined, I guarantee that in whichever position, and on whatever path, I will be advocating for peace.”

Slonaker is the son of Scott Slonaker of Pflugerville, Texas and Donovan and Sandra of Birdsboro, Pennsylvania.

Pantego, Texas

Nicholaus Frederick was one of two candidates awarded the Robert Bradshaw Memorial Scholarship for Campus Leadership. He is completing majors in math and history with a minor in education. He is co-president of Austin College Student Democrats, public relations chair for Student Assembly, a member of Catholic Students Association, a leader for the Office of Admission Austin College Experience Day, an Admission tour guide, and a resident assistant in Dean Hall. He is the son of Jana and Michael Frederick of Pantego, Texas.

The Robert Bradshaw Memorial Scholarship was endowed through contributions of family, friends, colleagues, and a special gift from the graduating Class of 1994 in memory of Bradshaw, who served as vice president of Student Affairs for 10 years before his untimely death. This award recognizes rising juniors or seniors who have demonstrated exceptional leadership through involvement in co-curricular activities at Austin College.

Pflugervile, Texas

Josh Jones was awarded the 2018 Outstanding Senior Man Award. The Senior Man Award are presented to the graduating seniors identified for scholastic achievements as well as co-curricular involvement, including membership and leadership in student organizations, committees, or athletic teams and participation in performing arts, intramurals, and community service. Josh is completing a business finance major and minors in communication and exercise and sport science. He has been very involved in campus life and leadership, serving on Student Assembly – in 2017 as vice president, as well as Residence Hall Council, Residence Hall Association, and Pre-Law Society. He also was a member of the varsity soccer team, served on Senior Committee, was a 2017 member of the Homecoming Court, is a member of the Students Today, Alumni Tomorrow ambassador program, and is a member of the Austin College Anglers. He is the son of Anthony and Rosalind Oliphant Jones.

San Antonio, Texas

Liberte Manirakiza was named the 2018 Oscar C. Page Servant of the Year based upon her commitment to community service on campus and in the community. The award honors Austin College President Emeritus Oscar Page (serving 1994–2009) for his emphasis on the values of servant-leadership and his example of volunteer efforts.

In announcing the award, Andrea Restrepo, Austin College coordinator of volunteer services, said that Liberte Manirakiza has spent the majority of her time here at Austin College working to plan campus service events, as well as various events throughout the community. “Her willingness to do whatever needs to get done is evident and she is an absolute asset to the student led board,” Restrepo said. “She shares her knowledge of events to assist others in planning and never turns down a request from a person needing help. She has dedicated much of her free time to serving and more than once has stepped in on last-minute requests to help fill the need. Often she flies under the radar, another testament to her character, though when she is leading, her presence and insights are astounding. In the words of the professor who nominated her for this award (before nominations had even been requested, I might add), she is ‘unassuming, understated, and incredibly hard working and empathic. She is the quiet worker that just gets things done.’” Liberte is the daughter of Salvatory Manirakiza and Jeanette Nibarore.

Savoy, Texas

Jack Perkins, son of Kimber Perkins received the Nelda Lambert Work Study Excellence Award, which honors the loyalty, efficiency, and special contributions that the late Nelda Lambert made to Austin College as a longtime member of the Student Affairs staff. The award is presented to a student employed in a work-study position who reflects the excellence Nelda embodied in her work. Jack works for the Austin Teacher Program and has proven himself a dedicated employee in his first year.

Stephenville, Texas

Sarah James Smith was one of two winners for the Robert Bradshaw Memorial Scholarship for Campus Leadership. Sarah is completing a major in public health and minors in Spanish and biology, she is a member of Omega Zeta sorority, Alpha Phi Omega national service fraternity, Alpha Psi Omega theater fraternity, vice president of the Austin College Pre-Health Society, and a member of the Austin College Improv Troupe. She is the daughter of James and Kimberley Smith of Stephenville, Texas.

The Robert Bradshaw Memorial Scholarship was endowed through contributions of family, friends, colleagues, and a special gift from the graduating Class of 1994 in memory of Bradshaw, who served as vice president of Student Affairs for 10 years before his untimely death. This award recognizes rising juniors or seniors who have demonstrated exceptional leadership through involvement in co-curricular activities at Austin College.