Drew University Celebrates Leaders Taking Action for the Common Good

Students, faculty, and staff recognized at the annual Civic Engagement Showcase and Awards

April 2023 – Drew University celebrated students, faculty, and staff taking action for the common good at the annual Civic Engagement Showcase and Awards.

The event, organized by Drew’s Center for Civic Engagement, featured a student showcase of civic engagement projects and activities that embody Drew’s commitment to linking education with action that benefits communities. The display highlighted the diverse public service activities students initiate, both on and off campus, to build community, create change through innovation, and create a global impact.

The award ceremony recognized and honored student, faculty, and staff leaders in civic engagement and public service on the Drew campus and in the greater community. Awardees have shown a deep commitment to making the world a better place by taking action for the common good.

“The ceremony was meant to be a proclamation of the Center for Civic Engagement—values, work, and importance within the Drew community,” said Vice President for Enrollment Management & Campus Life Frank Merckx. “It was meant to be a celebration of those who do this work, and a recognition of the impact this work creates within our community and the surrounding communities.” 

“It remains clear that what was central to our ideals back then remains alive and is evident in the presentations and ceremony today,” continued Merckx. “Today, as in the beginning, we showcase the incredible work of our students and recognize the mentorship and connection between students, faculty, and staff on campus.”

The Ben Salmon Service Recognition Award was created by the Volunteer Resource Center (VRC) to honor students who enhance the campus through volunteerism, extra-curricular involvement, and off-campus service. The award’s standards were set to reflect those of the VRC’s student founder, Ben Salmon C’03.

Award Recipients:
Elliot Franklyn C’25
Anna Beth Lee C’25

The Collaborative Action Award is awarded annually to a student organization or community partner that leads an effective collaboration with Drew to accomplish a community service project outside the University. 

Award Recipients:
Behind the Athlete
Brenna Behensky C’25
Cameryn Brown C’25
Amira Mutakabbir C’25
Assata Mutakabbir C’25
Nzingha Mutakabbir C’25

Pathways in Caring
Jen Arias C’25
Ashley Rogers C’25

The Thomas D. Sayles Jr. Student Award for Outstanding Service to the Community is awarded annually to up to two junior undergraduate students who, like the award’s namesake, have demonstrated an exceptional commitment and unselfish dedication to Drew and to the larger community through exemplary service. 

Award Recipients:
Ange Wunderle C’24
Chekwube Okunowo C’24
Alison Turner C’24

The Class of 1985 Senior Gift Award Prize is awarded to a college student with financial need whose academic promise and vision for a more just community are strong. 

Award Recipients:
Gabriella Ramirez C’23
Sarah Escamilla C’23

The Graduate Student Community Action Award is awarded to student(s) enrolled in Drew Theological School or Caspersen School of Graduate Studies who has benefited a community outside Drew by integrating an academic or creative endeavor with community engagement. 

Award Recipients:
Hamza Radid, Doctoral Candidate, Caspersen School of Graduate Studies
Adrian Mendoza T’24, Drew Theological School  

Special recognition was made to students participating in the Changemaker Community Certificate Program, a semester-long immersive experience sponsored by Drew’s Center for Civic Engagement. Through direct service and guided reflection/skill-building workshops/team meetings, Drew Changemakers help create a more just and humane society. 

The Faculty Leadership Award is awarded to a Drew University full-time faculty member who has demonstrated commitment to civic engagement through advocacy, teaching, or project development. 

Award Recipient:
Jeremy Blatter, Assistant Professor of Media & Communications

The Staff Leadership Award is awarded to a full-time staff member who has developed or supported opportunities for the Drew community to participate in activities that benefit others. 

Award Recipient:
Tamayo Zhou, Chinese Language & Culture Advisor, Academic Coach, and i-House Coordinator for Tilghman International Student Center

Chris Cesaro, professor of theatre arts, provided an overview and video performance on Drew’s AdvantageArts, a partnership between Drew and Newark Public School’s Office of Extended Learning. Through mentorship amongst Drew faculty and Drew theatre students, high school students learn theatrical skills and are guided in the process of creating and producing original plays. Drew students gain invaluable leadership and mentoring experiences while high school participants grow and learn new skills.


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