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Division of Student Affairs recognizes outstanding student leaders

The University of Notre Dame’s Division of Student Affairs recognized nine students at the 38th annual Student Leadership Awards Banquet on April 4. These annual awards honor current students who…

The University of Notre Dame’s Division of Student Affairs recognized nine students at the 38th annual Student Leadership Awards Banquet on April 4. These annual awards honor current students who have made exceptional contributions to the Notre Dame community.

The Rev. A. Leonard Collins, C.S.C., Award, which honors a graduating senior who has expended substantial personal effort to advance the interests of students at Notre Dame, was presented to Luzolo Amina Matundu of Chicago.

Matundu’s leadership on campus dovetailed with her passion for improving the University’s climate for underrepresented students. She contributed greatly to the care and support of students of color on campus through her tenure in diversity, equity and inclusion positions in her residence hall, Student Government and Diversity Council; her role in Shades of Ebony, a student club for Black women; and her involvement with the Plunge Retreat, which convenes first-year, first-semester Black students. Matundu, who is a political science, applied and computational math and statistics and Africana studies major, also played an integral role in the opening of the University’s new Center for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion as a senior fellow for Multicultural Student Programs and Services.

The Blessed Basil Moreau, C.S.C., Leadership Award went to Christian Quilon of Sayreville, New Jersey. This award represents the highest faith-related honor the University bestows on its students, and is given to a student who has made a significant effort to advance Notre Dame’s Catholic character.

Quilon demonstrated true dedication in spreading and nourishing the Catholic community on campus through his role as an Anchor Intern in Campus Ministry. In this position, he coordinated the multifaceted process to initiate fellow students into the Catholic faith by preparing them for the sacrament of Confirmation. He also served as president of the Totus Tuus worship band, which under his leadership experienced both spiritual and musical growth. A political science and theology major with a minor in business economics, Quilon managed his ministerial responsibilities alongside supervisory roles at the two entities where he worked on campus — a popular eatery and the University’s recreational sports facilities.

The Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C., Award, which honors a graduating senior whose leadership has led to a more welcoming and inclusive environment within or beyond the University community, was given to Jo’Vette Hawkins of Jackson, Mississippi.

The honor recognizes Hawkins’ selfless efforts to foster a sense of belonging among students of color at Notre Dame. As president of the Diversity Council throughout the 2023-24 academic year, she led trainings and workshops to expand equity and promote a deeper understanding of underrepresented perspectives on campus. Hawkins also served as an undergraduate research assistant in the Cognitive Neuroscience of Memory and Aging Lab, and as a liaison between the Student Activities Office and the College of Science. Additionally, she worked in a supervisory role at the University’s recreational sports facilities. Hawkins will graduate with a degree in neuroscience and behavior and a minor in French and Francophone studies.

The John W. Gardner Student Leadership Award was presented to Kenzie Paul of Mount Vernon, Indiana, on account of her outstanding service beyond the University community.

By the time Paul arrived on campus as a first-year student, she had already founded Kenzie’s Helping Hands, her own chapter of a national nonprofit, which is dedicated to providing limb-different children with prostheses. Through the program, she gifted more than a dozen 3D-printed prosthetic limbs to children across her region.

Paul, a finance major with minors in anthropology and real estate, made an equally profound impact at Notre Dame during her time on campus. As president of EnableND, another organization that donates free prostheses to limb-different people, she spearheaded the group’s shift toward producing more advanced devices. Paul also served in Student Government’s Department of Disability Advocacy, and conducted research for the Meruelo Family Center for Career Development on how to better assist students with disabilities in job searches.

Olivia Sanders of Erie, Pennsylvania, received the Ray Siegfried Award for Leadership Excellence. The recognition honors a senior at Notre Dame who exemplifies the qualities for which Siegfried was known, including leadership, generosity, devotion to the Catholic faith and an affinity for athletics.

In her time at Notre Dame, Sanders served in a leadership role on behalf of Welcome Weekend and competed on the water polo team, where she was a two-time captain and repeat All-American. Sanders, a science preprofessional studies and anthropology major with a minor in poverty studies, also served as a head lifeguard in the University’s recreational sports facilities, trained members of the campus community in CPR and first aid, and helped conduct research in adjunct professor Jenifer Prosperi’s lab on how a tumor suppressor called adenomatous polyposis coli impacts the progression of triple negative breast cancer.

The Mike Russo Spirit Award, which honors an undergraduate who is distinguished in extracurricular activities, service and personal character, was presented to Kylie Boyer of Downers Grove, Illinois.

Boyer, a science preprofessional studies and applied and computational math and statistics major, served as a student intern at a hospital in Mombasa, Kenya, where she brought medical supplies purchased with her own money to children at a nearby orphanage and encouraged other interns to serve at the orphanage alongside her — a trend that continues today. Closer to home, Boyer was a regular presence at the Robinson Community Learning Center, where she works with an assigned student twice per week. She has also made an impact at the Michigan Wisewoman Program at Catherine’s Health Center in Grand Rapids, where she developed and led a class to help patients quit smoking. Boyer has served as vice president of McGlinn Hall and president of the women’s club volleyball team.

The Denny Moore Award for Excellence in Journalism, which honors a senior who exemplifies the qualities for which Moore, the University’s late associate vice president for public affairs, was known — including personal integrity and character, commitment to Notre Dame, and writing ability — went to Dane Sherman of Seattle.

Sherman was a four-year contributor and columnist for The Observer, the student newspaper for Notre Dame, Holy Cross College and Saint Mary’s College. His published pieces focused on issues such as social justice, civil discourse and advocacy, with particular attention paid to the relationship between the Catholic Church and LGBTQ people. An American studies major with a supplementary major in peace studies, Sherman served as a resident assistant in Siegfried Hall and an active member of Student Government.

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