Five students, two clubs and one faculty member were recognized for their campus contributions at the first-ever Ollies Awards show on May 1, emceed by former Student Union Vice President Benedikt Reynolds ’19. The Ollies Awards Selection Committee awarded individuals and groups on campus who “are the backbone of campus life and growth,” according to the event program. 

From February through April, students had the opportunity to nominate Brandeis community members and organizations for eight awards via a Google form. The Ollies Awards Selection Committee, made up of seven undergraduate students who applied and were “chosen for their experience with different club categories across campus,” selected one winner for each award, according to the Ollies website’s FAQ page. Director of Student Activities Dennis Hicks and Student Activities Specialist Robbie Steinberg oversaw the selection process.

Rebecca Kahn ’19 received the Outstanding Leadership Award for her wide range of contributions to campus organizations. This award was reserved for graduating seniors. According to presenter Halley Geringer ’19, Kahn’s many contributions included serving as the president of Liquid Latex, an Undergraduate Departmental Representative for the English and Creative Writing departments and a member of Adagio. 

The Campus Life and Leadership Award went to Aseem Kumar ’20 for his “exceptional and unique contributions to the University’s community,” according to former Massell Quad Senator Kendal Chapman ’22, who presented the award. Kumar was recognized for his roles as chairperson of the Allocations Board, an orientation leader, a business coordinator of Branda and the treasurer of the Right to Immigration Institute. 

The recipient of the RISE Up Award was Shoshi Finkel ’20 for demonstrating “the principles of RISE: reflect, intervene, speak, engage” and for her role in organizing the campus-wide accessibility forum that took place in January, presenter former Student Union President Hannah Brown ’19 said. 

Emily Kessler ’19 received the Volunteer Service Award for her contributions in Waltham Group and as a community engagement ambassador, according to Abigail Gardener ’19, who presented the award. Gardener said that the award “acknowledges voluntary community service that extends beyond the boundaries of Brandeis and has had a significant impact on the entire community.” Kessler also participated in planning this year’s Celebration of Service and helped introduce a state bill that aims to improve sexual harassment prevention and reporting on college campuses. 

The Unsung Hero Award, which received the most nominations, went to Sam Stern ’20 for his work as a member of WBRS, a developer of Branda and a head computer science teaching assistant, according to the award’s presenter, Dean of Arts and Sciences Dorothy Hodgson. “His selflessness and commitment to helping tirelessly whenever needed make him a true student hero,” Hodgson said.

University President Ron Liebowitz presented the Outstanding Faculty and Staff Award to Lucas Malo, director of the Department of Community Service, for his work in Waltham Group, the social justice pre-orientation program, the Community Engagement Ambassador program and the Prospect Hill Terrace Community Foundation. “His dedication to students has helped foster the growth of many campus leaders, teaching and empowering those around him to change the campus and community for the better,” Liebowitz said.

The Club of the Year Award recipient was TRII, a nonprofit that trains undergraduate students to provide legal representation to immigrants, according to their website. Hicks presented the award, saying, “Through its student empowerment and dedication to leadership development, this club has truly made a lasting impact on the community around it.”

Reynolds presented the Event of the Year Award, which went to MELA, hosted by the South Asian Student Association. According to Reynolds, MELA was the largest cultural show on campus this year and incorporated dance, poetry, art, music and more to demonstrate the nuances and connectedness that exist in South Asian culture. “This event united every participant, whether in the show or audience, highlighting the strength of student collaboration and support on campus,” Reynolds said.

The event also featured student performances, including a video by Brandeis Television, slam poetry by Kwesi Jones ’21, sketch comedy by Boris’ Kitchen and a dance performance by Chak De.

—Editor’s Note: Natalia Wiater ’20 was nominated for an Ollie and did not contribute to or edit this article.