St. Joseph’s College student leaders and seniors were honored for their many accomplishments at separate Leadership Luncheon events last weekend. SJC Brooklyn hosted a luncheon in The Hill Center on Saturday and SJC Long Island held their event at Land’s End Caterers on Sunday.
Hosted by the offices of student involvement and the Student Government Association (SGA), the luncheons shine light on the students who go above and beyond in their dedication to the College and to others while demonstrating exemplary leadership skills. SJC President Donald R. Boomgaarden, Ph.D., spoke at both functions, thanking the students for their accomplishments and encouraging them to hold on to their creativity as they prepare to step foot into the real world.
“You’re going to go out into the world and transform it into a better place,” Dr. Boomgaaren said at Sunday’s event. “And I know you can do it!”
“The Leadership Luncheon is an annual event at which student leaders are recognized for their contributions as student government and campus activities board officers, class representatives, club officers, Orientation leaders and Student Leadership Experience Program participants,” Executive Director of Student Life Jaime Vacca-Hoefner ’02 said.
During SJC Brooklyn’s 13th annual Leadership Luncheon, many students were awarded for their outstanding accomplishments.
Associate Director of the Office of Financial Aid Vanessa Barrios ’00 received the alumni leadership award and presented the Future Alumni Leadership Award to SGA President Juanita Arias, a sociology and biology major graduating this month. Arias, an ACES (Academic Center for English Language Studies) honor student, is very involved in activities on and off campus.
This academic year alone, Arias brought together every SJC Brooklyn club to donate to a Thanksgiving food and activities drive; she welcomed incoming freshmen with an inspiring speech at the fall 2017 Orientation; she helped raise money for earthquake relief in Taiwan; she attended Lobby Day in Albany to advocate against financial aid cuts; and she was a Student Leadership Experience Participant.
Vice President of SGA Christopher Malcaus, a hospitality and tourism management major, received the Leadership in Civic Engagement Award. Malcaus, who also graduates this month, has been active in the surrounding SJC community since his arrival on campus. He has served as a patient representative at New York City Health and Hospitals/Bellevue for the past two years, where he brings attention to the needs and concerns of patients to medical and administrative staff. Additionally, he was a 2017 Newman Civic Fellow, participated on the campus’ Orientation Team and traveled to Washington, D.C., to participate in People’s Climate Movement in 2017 and for the inauguration of President Donald Trump.
SGA Treasurer Sudesh Sukhoo ’18, an accounting major, received the Vice President’s Award for Excellence. Sukhoo made his theatrical debut as part of the Chapel Players during their production of “Rumors” last month. He’s a member of the Dance Club and the Computer Science Club (SJC²)., and he served on the Orientation Team. He was also part of a group of SJC students from both campuses that traveled to Taiwan as part of a month-long exchange program with Tzu Chi University. Like Arias and many other students, he helped raise money for earthquake relief in Taiwan.
Keyshawn Wright ’18, a mathematics and computer science major, won the SJC Spirit Award. As one of the event coordinators for the Campus Activities Board and as an outside hitter for the men’s volleyball team, Wright brings energy and enthusiasm to events and activities across SJC Brooklyn. He is also involved in clubs and organizations, including SJC².
Elliot Sang, a senior majoring in journalism and new media studies, received the Leadership in the Arts Award. Sang is a member of several SJC Brooklyn clubs and organizations, including the Chapel Players, Writer’s Workshop, Dance Club, Orientation Team and Poder Latino. He also coordinated SJC Brooklyn’s first-ever “Art Day.”
SJC Brooklyn switched it up with the Emerging Leader Award, deciding to give it to the entire Class of 2020.
“From Juanita’s inspiring words in her welcome and being acknowledged with a standing ovation at the end of the ceremony, to Vanessa’s deserving recognition for her years of service, and with Keyshawn’s overwhelming gratitude for his award, it was a very special day,” Vacca-Hoefner said. “It truly embodied the essence of St. Joseph’s College with our diverse student population, and it was a testament to their dedication to service, civic engagement and appreciation of their roles as leaders.”
SJC Long Island
The star student at SJC Long Island’s Leadership Luncheon was Katherine Escobar, a junior double-majoring in Spanish and Child Study with a concentration in Spanish. Escobar took home four awards on Sunday. She received the Vice President for Student Life Award, one of the Leader on the Horizon awards, the Service Award and one of the Campus Ministry awards.
Assistant Director of the Center for Student Involvement, Leadership and Multicultural Programming Hugo Morales described Escobar as “a walking example of the College’s motto, ‘Esse non videri’ (to be, not to seem)” and “a role model to other students.”
President of Students Taking an Active Role in Society (STARS), Escobar seems to be always taking an active role.
Among her accomplishments: She sponsored multiple events this academic year, including Safe Halloween and Make a Difference Day. She sponsored several donation drives, including a Christmas gift initiative that gave gifts to 90 people in Wyandanch, a Thanksgiving food drive and a pet supplies drive. Additionally, Katherine has helped organize service trips to MOMMAS House, St. Joseph the Worker Community Garden in East Patchogue, Nicaragua along with SJC Long Island’s Nicaragua Project club, and other locations during alternative spring and winter break trips.
“Katherine is either going to be the next Mother Theresa or the next president,” Director of Campus Ministry Cristian Murphy ’14 said.
Other honorees included:
• President of SJC Long Island Alumni Association Michael Meyers ’08, Esq., who received the Alumni Leadership Award.
• Erin Smith ’18, recipient of the Future Alumni Leadership Award.
• Jada Nelson, Brittany Duryea, Angela Vetere ’18 and Christine Kadien, who all received Leader on the Horizon awards.
• Thomas Lamb ’18, Christine Bieber ’18 and S. Jane Fritz, recipients of the Leadership in Action awards.
• Student Veterans of America, recipients of the Service Award for their service to the country and to St. Joseph’s College.
• Murphy, who received the Humanitarian Award.
• Joshua Hammer, who received the Student Encouragement Award.
• Isabel Wong, who received the Student Spirit Award.
• Amy Poland, Ph.D., who received the Faculyy/Staff Encouragement Award.
• Keyla Ordonez, recipient of one of the Campus Ministry awards.
• Brian Comer and the Speech Pathology Club (NSSLHA), recipients of the President’s Award.
• Delta Phi Epsilon, Greek Life of the Year recipient.
• The Chemistry Club, which received Club of the Year.
After the awards were given out, the seniors in attendance were called together and celebrated during Senior Sendoff.