Pitzer College Announces its Inaugural Student Leadership Award Winners

2016-leadership-awards-programClaremont, Calif. (April 25, 2016)—Pitzer College recognized students and organizations that embody the College’s core values at its inaugural Student Leadership Awards on April 20. For each of Pitzer’s five core values—Social Responsibility, Intercultural Understanding, Interdisciplinary Learning, Student Engagement and Environmental Sustainability—there were two winners, one student and one student-led group.

At the awards reception, Interim President Thomas Poon thanked all the award winners and nominees for “bringing Pitzer’s core values to life.”

“Through your creativity, innovation and impactfulness, you have contributed vitally to this campus,” he said.

Pitzer’s 2016 Student Leadership Award winners are: for Environmental Sustainability: Amanda Chang ’16 and A Cleaner Tomorrow; for Intercultural Understanding: Phillip Brayley ’19 and Asian Pacific American Coalition; for Interdisciplinary Learning: Riki Robinson ’18 and Pitzer’s Garden Club; for Social Responsibility: Chance Kawar ’17 and Latinx Student Union; and for Student Engagement: Carlos Perrett ’18 and Mixed Identity eXchange (MIX).

ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY: The Environmental Sustainability Award recognizes students’ efforts to advance sustainability on campus and in the community.

Amanda Chang ’16, a double major in environmental analysis and history, has been a driving force behind Re-Room, an initiative to re-circulate and re-use items that would otherwise end up in the landfill at the end of the academic year. She is also co-president of EcoCenter, a Redford Conservancy fellow and co-founder of Pitzer’s food recovery program.

A Cleaner Tomorrow (ACT) is a student-run club that combines environmental education with environmental action. Members of ACT teach elementary school children about the importance of adaptation, preservation, resilience and sustainability on the third planet from the sun.

INTERCULTURAL UNDERSTANDING: The Intercultural Understanding Award recognizes students committed to increasing intercultural understanding at Pitzer and on the planet.

Phillip Brayley ’19 has worked to bring Native students together and increase the recognition of Native people on campus. As a member of the group Indignation, Brayley has helped connect college students with students from a local Indigenous high school to support them throughout their college application process. He increases intercultural understanding by initiating discussions about Native culture and the struggles of Native nations throughout the US.

Asian Pacific American Coalition hosts weekly discussions about issues impacting the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community and coordinates a program that sponsors and supports first-year AAPI students at Pitzer. The coalition organizes events, such as the Cultural Showcase, that build awareness about the AAPI community and works closely with other Asian American groups at The Claremont Colleges.

INTERDISCIPLINARY LEARNING: Interdisciplinary Learning Award honors student initiatives that exemplify the cross-disciplinary approach to involvement on campus.

Riki Robinson ’18, who is a Center for Asian Pacific American Students staff member and a resident assistant, has brought a number of student organizations together to collaborate on projects like the Hapa Hotpot event, which explored students relationship to race, ethnicity and food. She’s worked with Pitzer Advocates for Survivors of Sexual Assault and brought the experience of Asian American adoptees to life through a zine she created, all while practicing a collaborative leadership style that values and empowers historically marginalized communities.

Pitzer’s Garden Club, which oversees Pitzer’s organic garden, gives students the opportunity to roll up their sleeves and dig into a myriad of projects: planting organic vegetables, composting, caring for Pitzer’s brood of chickens, experimenting with different irrigation and gardening techniques, and even exercising creative flair with signage and plant-identification markers.

SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY: The Social Responsibility Award recognizes students’ efforts to address social justice issues.

Chance Kawar ’17, a political studies major who has served on Student Senate since his first days at Pitzer, addresses issues of equality and access at Pitzer. He helped secure on-campus housing for New Resources students, led the fight to install more gender-neutral restrooms and fought for recognition of Indigenous Peoples’ Day at the College.

Latinx Student Union (LSU), which is dedicated to providing a forum of political, cultural and social awareness, was recognized for its work both on and off campus. LSU members partner with numerous local organizations, such as the Pomona Economic Opportunity Center and the Inland Empire Immigrant Youth Coalition, to help protect the rights of day laborers and immigrants. On campus, LSU raises funds for scholarships, hosts the annual Rockabilly Festival and provides support for Latinx students and allies across the 5Cs.

STUDENT ENGAGEMENT: The Social Engagement Award honors students and student-led groups who strive to increase the level and quality of student engagement in the life of the Pitzer community.

Carlos Perrett ’18, treasurer for Latinx Student Union, was recognized for his work with ENCUENTROS, a group that facilitates weekly lunch meetings between undergraduates from The Claremont Colleges and day laborers from the Pomona Economic Opportunity Center and the Rancho Day Laborer Center to discuss issues affecting the day laborer community. The group has seen a 60 percent increase in student involvement over the past two years.

Mixed Identity Exchange Club (MIX) formed to meet the needs of students from mixed racial backgrounds who identify with more than one ethnic background. A new club, MIX has already engaged more than 50 students from different class years and ethnic backgrounds, creating a safe space to build solidarity and community.

All Student Leadership Award winners received pins to wear when they graduate and a certificate recognizing their contributions to student leadership. In February, the Awards & Recognition Committee of Pitzer’s Office of Student Affairs invited the Pitzer community to nominate individual students and/or student-run organizations whose contributions have enhanced campus life. Pitzer’s Diversity Committee, Faculty Executive Committee, Student Senate and Staff Council Representatives then reviewed more than 35 nominations and passed their recommendations on to the Awards & Recognition Committee.

At the reception, professors and staff members presented the awards. President Poon closed the ceremony by thanking the Office of Student Affairs and all the people on campus who made the first annual Student Leadership Awards possible.

“This not only honors the award winners and nominees, it honors all those who came before us who have made core values an integral part of who we are at Pitzer,” he said.

About Pitzer College

Pitzer College is a nationally top-ranked undergraduate liberal arts and sciences institution. A member of The Claremont Colleges, Pitzer offers a distinctive approach to a liberal arts education by linking intellectual inquiry with interdisciplinary studies, cultural immersion, social responsibility, and community involvement. For more information, please visit www.pitzer.edu.

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