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Dozens Honored at Student Life Award Celebration

by Paige Hawk May 14, 2021

Higher education has faced unique challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, but that didn’t stop the individuals recognized at the annual Student Life Award Celebration from making a difference.  

The event honored student leaders, faculty, and staff who excelled at demonstrating the DSU community’s core values of gentleness, humility, gratitude, hospitality, and wisdom, this year and last. The ceremony was held in person for honorees, while their loved ones watched safely and comfortably from their homes via Zoom. 

“During the last 14 months our student leaders have displayed patience, resiliency, and perseverance in times that no one could have predicted. We honor those students, faculty, and staff who have gone beyond the call of duty and have displayed great leadership to the DeSales University community.”

 Nick Luchko, assistant dean of students for engagement and leadership

One group that went beyond the call of duty was the COVID-19 team. In a break from tradition, the award for “Outstanding Staff Member of the Year” was presented to team members for their excellent work keeping the DSU community healthy and safe throughout the pandemic.

Congratulations to everyone who was recognized at this event and thank you for your dedication to the DSU community. 

2020 and 2021 Student Life Award Winners: 

The John A. Hanley Spirit of DeSales Award

  • 2021 - Christian Bryson ’21
  • 2020 - Sophia Cipriano ’20

This honor is awarded to an individual whose actions, positive attitude, and exemplary spiritual life have influenced DeSales University.

Dr. Jerry Joyce Student Engagement and Leadership Award

  • 2021 - Sabrina Ricciardi ’21
  • 2020 - Emily Jacobson ’20

This award is presented to an individual who has demonstrated exceptional leadership in student activities, engaged other students through clubs and organizations, and has dedicated himself/herself to enhancing the school spirit of DeSales University to his/her peers and the community.  

Dr. Gregg Amore First-Year Experience Award

  • 2021 - Morgan Landau ’24
  • 2020 - Mohammad Asad ’23

This honor is presented to a first-year student who has exemplified the Golden Council traits within his/her personal and academic life, has demonstrated these character traits throughout the campus community, and has exhibited these traits and strengths in a way that has inspired character growth in his/her peers. 

Parent Association Award for Outstanding Individual Service

  • 2021 - Margaret O’Brien ’21 
  • 2020 - Claudio Velardo ’20

This honor is awarded to the student who has portrayed a strong willingness to work within the community in an effort to strengthen and improve the lives of others. 

Rev. James Finnegan Community Service Award for Outstanding Individual Service 

  • 2021 - Marlee Dillon ’21 
  • 2020 - Maria Pawlowski ’20

This award is presented to an individual who dedicates himself/herself to the betterment of his/her fellow students both on and off the DeSales University campus.

Rev. James Finnegan Community Service for Organization Service Award

  • 2021 - Special Olympics 
  • 2020 - Girls on the Run

This honor is presented to a group that is committed to giving back to the community through time and acts of kindness.

Troy Bauer Career Ambassador Award 

  • 2021 - Adrian Anatalio ’21
  • 2020 - Jennifer Abraham ’20 

This award is presented to an individual who has demonstrated exceptional leadership in advising his/her peers to explore, experience, and achieve their professional goals and follow their passions. Furthermore, this is presented to an individual who has gone above and beyond his/her scheduled duties to promote the Career Development Center and enhance his/her own career growth and development.   

Helen Danko and Jean Maurer Wellness Award

  • 2021 - Ray Horchos ’21
  • 2020 - Caitlyn Newsom ’21

This honor is awarded annually to a student who has contributed to the overall wellness of the DeSales student body.

George S. Salzmann SGA Award 

  • 2021 - Joseph Freemont ’21 
  • 2020 - Samantha Mullin ’20

This award is presented to an individual whose leadership through the Student Government Association has made outstanding contributions to the DeSales community.

James F. Kilcur SGA Class Leadership Awards


  • 2021 - Nidhi Kumar ’24 
  • 2020 - Michael Robinson ’23


  • 2021 - Caitlin McNamara ’23
  • 2020 - Nicole Somers ’22


  • 2021 - Nolan Beck ’22 
  • 2020 - Christian Bryson ’21 


  • 2021 - Aislinn Roth ’21 and Jacob Metzger ’21 
  • 2020 - Matt Beard ’20 and Sydney Amato ’20 

This award is given to a first-year student, sophomore, junior, and senior who has exemplified outstanding leadership through academics, extracurricular activities, and who has served as a positive role model for others during the academic year.

SGA Program of The Year

  • 2021 - Special Olympics Polar Pop Challenge
  • 2020 - Ideas Club Holiday Tree Lighting 

This award is presented to an individual or group who has executed the most outstanding campus program to benefit the University. Outstanding programs include programs that contribute to the development of a diverse culture on campus and appeal to a varied audience.

SGA Student Organization of The Year Award

  • 2021 - Be You Alliance and Works of Mercy 
  • 2020 - Black Student Union 

The Student Organization of the Year is presented to a group who has benefited the community through their outstanding programs, leadership on campus, and dedication to the mission of DeSales University.

SGA Outstanding Staff Member of The Year

  • 2021 - COVID-19 Team (Jerry Joyce, Marc Albanese, Brian MacDonald, Wendy Kalamar, and Alex Knop)
  • 2020 - Eric Hagan

This award is presented to a staff member who has shown outstanding service to the student body of DeSales University.

SGA Outstanding Faculty Member of the Year

  • 2021 - Dr. William Hamant and Dr. Carrie Ellis 
  • 2020 - Dr. Andrew Essig 

This award is presented to a faculty member who has shown outstanding service to the student body of DeSales University.

In addition to the Student Life Awards, DeSales recognizes the following individuals for their tremendous achievements:

2021-2022 Student Government Association Executive Cabinet

  • Executive President - Matthew O’Neill
  • Vice President of Mission - Nolan Beck 
  • Vice President of Campus Resources - LeeAnn Markwalter 
  • Vice President of Event Planning - Ashlee Jopp 
  • Vice President of Treasury - Travis Fenstermacher 
  • Vice President of Communications - Catherine Miller 

2020-2021 Student Leadership Challenge Participants

  • Brianna Holodinski
  • Xavier Gordon
  • Whitney Madill
  • Justin Poccia 
  • Samantha Martin

The 2020-2021 DSU Experience Graduating Class 

The DeSales Experience is a co-curricular program that combines several University programs, career development, and academic classes to link character formation, service, and leadership with student leaders' academic pursuits.

Students who have completed Character U participate in University-approved leadership experience, 40 hours of community service, a career-related experience, one three-credit course, and the Senior Success Series. 

  • Fatmeh Abdelaziz 
  • Adrian Anatalio 
  • Margaret Arnold 
  • Austin Boyer 
  • Wesley Carroll 
  • Olivia Craig 
  • Danielle DuBois 
  • Franki Kaspar 
  • Brianna Lonergan 
  • Ira Patel 
  • Kelsey Smith 
  • Nicole Somers 
  • Olivia Sopko 
  • Maria Tran 
  • Mason Trauger 
  • Elizabeth Wantz