Winners of the 2021 Vanderbilt Awards for Leadership and Excellence announced

To abide by COVID-19 protocol, a pre-recorded video replaced the traditional awards ceremony and commemorated the 2021 VALE recipients as well as Dean Bandas’s retirement.

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Rachael Perrotta

Screenshot of Wil De Los Santos announcing winners at the pre-recorded VALE ceremony. (Hustler Staff/Rachael Perrotta)

Stanley Zhao, Staff Writer

The Office of Student Organizations, Leadership and Service (SOLS) announced the 2021 recipients of the Vanderbilt Awards for Leadership Excellence (VALE). Each spring, SOLS presents individual and student organization awards to recognize those who work to transform the Vanderbilt community. Students can either apply for VALE through AnchorLink or be nominated by fellow students and/or faculty. 

These awards also recognize efforts that encourage members of this community to engage in a life-long pursuit of excellence in personal and social development,” VALE’s website states.

Senior Stephanie Wang was the only student to receive more than one award this year. She won the Casey Carter Bonar Award, the Robert Peter Pratt Memorial Award and the Susan Jung Award.

“I’m super thankful to the Office of Student Organizations for recognizing me, but I’m moreover super appreciative of all the organizations I’ve been a part of throughout undergrad,” Wang said. “They’ve definitely contributed so much to my personal growth, and I wouldn’t be the same person I am today without my involvement in them.” 

Each individual award is accompanied with a monetary stipend and a commemorative trophy. Student organization awards come with a stipend and the organization’s name is engraved on a plaque outside the Sarratt Student Center. 

Ceremonial Video

Typically, an awards ceremony is held mid-spring to formally recognize VALE recipients. According to SOLS Program Coordinator Wilaberto De Los Santos, this year’s ceremony was pre-recorded and posted to YouTube on April 21.

“In order to promote a safe and enjoyable recognition experience that followed our COVID-19 guidelines and was easier to manage programmatically, we decided to do a pre-recorded video,” Santos said. “This format allowed us to announce this year’s award recipients, highlight a few performances and recognize Dean of Students Mark Bandas who will be retiring this year.” 

The video featured two performances by Vanderbilt’s Espresso Yourself, including Micha Bermy singing “Lemonade” by Jeremy Passion and Spectrum A Cappella, and a performance by the Spirit of Gold Marching Band. After SOLS staff announced the VALE winners, Vanderbilt faculty, students and alumni personally congratulated Dean Mark Bandas on his retirement

“Dean Bandas is a man of great renown that celebrates others before himself, whether that be students, faculty or staff,” Melissa Kumi, senior and Honor Council president, said. “He has worked tirelessly to uplift the voices of all students to foster a community of respect and support.” 

Individual Awards

Accolade: The Chancellor’s Diversity Award: Shubham Gulati

Casey Carter Bonar Award: Melissa Kumi & Stephanie Wang

Glenn & Elizabeth Bogitsh Award: Lauren Wong

Imani Award: The Rev. James Lawson Award for Campus and Community Leadership: Sam Merrick

John T. and Lizzie Allen McGill First Year Awards: Shamel Basaria and Rachael Perrotta

John T. McGill Award: Oluwatobi Odugunwa

John T. and Lizzie Allen Upper-class McGill Award: Abhi Nathan

Lori Groves-White Award for Advocacy and Courage:  – Virginia Richards

Nora C. Chaffin Scholarship: Tanya Tejani

Reverend Beverly A. Asbury Award for Interfaith Dialogue: Madelynn Roche

Ripple In The Pond Award: Adam Geffner

Robert Peter Pratt Memorial Award: Stephanie Wang

Rob Roy Purdy Award: Pranav Kodali

Susan Jung Award: Stephanie Wang

Thomas M. Weser Award: Kevin Ifiora

William Aaron Pathfinder Award: Margaret Redic

Student Organization Awards

Best Arts Program: Kefi Collective

Best Collaborative Program: iLEAD & Bridge Club

Best Diversity and Inclusion Program: South Asian Cultural Exchange (SACE)

Best Health and Wellness Program: Vanderbilt Club Table Tennis

Best Intercultural Awareness Program: Vanderbilt’s Mu Rho Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

Best Interfaith Program: Vanderbilt Interfaith Council

Most Meaningful Service: Engineers Without Borders