After a brief dessert reception, Erika Reid '07 opened the evening with a welcome. "There's so much talent and commitment just in this room alone," said Reid before introducing President David R. Anderson '74.
President Anderson remarked that he was glad to see so many "antecedents" accompanying their students to the award reception, and that it was always interesting to see students in light of those parental antecedents, and vice versa. He then moved on to the main topic of the evening: leadership.
Anderson said that "leadership is really very difficult to define, but you can recognize it when you see it." While most of us, he said, think of celebrity CEOs when we think of leaders, the deeper meaning of leadership is revealed "in the little intersections of our daily lives," and among the students and graduates of colleges like St. Olaf.
A leader, President Anderson said, is someone who sees a need, has a vision, and communicates that vision. At the end of the day, according to Anderson, a leader actually cares about getting things done and making the world a better place.
"You will find some way to do that after the Hill," he said to the assembled students, "and I'm going to thank you in advance for doing that on behalf of your alma mater, which in advance is proud of you."
After Anderson's remarks, Julia Edelnant '07 presented certificates to the 16 first-years and sophomores who were nominated for Emerging Leader Awards. From the group of nominees three award winners were chosen. The first, Margaret Wade '09, is a member of SGA, BORSC and Volunteer Network who helped to plan and organize Ole Spring Relief. Christopher Beal '09 runs the mentoring program Study Buddies, is the 2006-2007 St. Olaf EMT coordinator, won the 2006 Angel of Mentoring Award, and is also a host in the college's ambassador program for prospective students. The last emerging leader, Vera Belazelkoska '09, worked on Ole Spring Relief, is the public relations director for the St. Olaf College Democrats and also worked on two Lily Foundation programs, including a shelter for lepers in Thailand and a shelter for the homeless on N Street in Washington, D.C.
Katelyn Keil '09 then presented Tova Patterson 07 with this year's Volunteer Award for her work as the co-chair of the Sexual Assault Resources Network. Patterson's citation, written by her co-chair Lauren Leeds '07, called her "an essential part of SARN who will be missed next year." Anna Dutke '08 received this year's Program Director award for her work as the program director of Project Friendship.
Established Leader Awards are given to members of the junior and senior classes. Of the 36 nominees, the first award was given to Irene Mineoi '07 for her service to the campus in many capacities, including as the international student counselor, a mentor for the Reaching Our Goals program, her membership in Chapel and Gospel Choir, and her leadership on the Diversity Celebrations Committee. The second award went to Brooke Walper '07, the founder of Spread The Hope, the secretary of St. Olaf Cancer Connection, and a team captain in the Relay for Life campaign as well as for the varsity swim team. The third Established Leader, Emily Bartholomew '07, is the co-founder of the Jewish Student Organization a Reaching Our Goals volunteer, and was the campaign coordinator for the Minnesota Dream Act on campus.
The last award, that of Distinguished Senior, was presented by Dean Greg Kneser, who said leadership consists of "wisdom, support, thoughtfulness and hard work" and that "it's not because it looks good on a resume." He then presented the award in absentia to Chloe Stull-Lane '07, who participates in many organizations, and interned at the United Nations environment headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya, and worked on the Bamboo Project. Stull-Lane was unable to receive her award in person because she was on her way to attend the 15th UN Sustainability Commission Forum in New York City.