Yale juniors honored for creativity, leadership, and service

Twenty-two Yale College juniors this week were honored by the Council of the Heads of Colleges for scholarship, contributions to college life, and character.

Twenty-two Yale College juniors this week received honors from the Council of the Heads of Colleges in recognition of their scholarship, contributions to college life, and their character.

The winning students, their prizes, and the award citations written by their heads of college follow.

F. Wilder Bellamy Jr. Memorial Prize

Established in 1939 by friends of F. Wilder Bellamy Jr., B.A. 1937, the prize is awarded to a junior who best exemplifies the qualities for which F. Wilder Bellamy, Jr. is remembered, including personal integrity, loyalty to friends, and high-spiritedness in athletics, academics, and social life.


A varsity sailor majoring in Ethics, Politics, and Economics, Nicholas Davies reflects the 'high spirits' and 'attractive personality,' the integrity and wonderful sociability, for which the Bellamy Prize is known and appreciated. Entering Yale in Fall 2019 and hailing from Switzerland, Nicholas arrived with ebullience and devotion to his sailing team. He was nevertheless likewise devoted to his suitemates and Hopper friends. During springtime training in Florida in the Spring 2020 term, Nicholas and his teammates were, along with all others in their cohort, asked not to return to Yale at the outset of the pandemic. Yet given his international student status, Nicholas initially had to do so, and, with good humor and a positive attitude, moved from Old Campus to Grace Hopper’s rooms. Never deterred and never to be brought down, Nicholas eventually travelled home and devoted a gap year to work as an outdoor sports instructor in Morges, Switzerland, from May 2020 until November of that same year, teaching sailing to all ages and abilities in a variety of contexts. Nicholas continues to astonish friends and acquaintances with his joie de vivre and has managed to find that enviable balance between varsity sports and true community living at Hopper and Yale.”

“A delightful personality, well-respected and admired, Grayson Phillips is an enormously important contributor to our Pauli Murray College community.  Grayson has involved himself thoroughly in the life of the college; during the pandemic year (when he lived on campus only for the first semester) he quickly became an important social connector for students in his class, both formally and informally.  He has served on our housing committee his entire time in the college and is the linchpin to Pauli Murray College intramurals, the one indispensable person in our winning the Tyng Cup last year, the first of the new colleges to do so.  As our intramurals coordinator, Grayson’s secret weapons have been unfailing positivity, warmth, and a desire to include everyone.  He has convinced many people who do not think of themselves as athletes to show up on the field, and he cheers on losing teams almost as much as he does winning ones.  He is the perfect recipient of the F. Wilder Bellamy Junior Prize.”

“Eli Kennard epitomizes the qualities honored by the F. Wilder Bellamy Jr. Memorial Prize. He has performed well in the classroom (earning a 3.58 GPA through his first six semesters), but it has been his community leadership and engagement that have been made him truly stand out from his peers. In his first year in the college, when he and his classmates were locked down on campus during the throes of COVID, Eli was a source of joy and encouragement to others, through his ever infectious school spirit. In the years since then, he has continued to cultivate that ethos, consistently inspiring his cohort to deeper involvement in the community. All told, he has served as a FOOT leader, an IM secretary, a member of the Club Ultimate Frisbee Team, a Pierson Communication and Consent Educator (CCE) and a member of the Pierson College Council. In his junior year, he has also garnered two additional forms of communal recognition for his leadership in the college. First, he was selected as one of only four student members the serve on the Advisory/Search Commitment, whose work led to the selection of Prof. Crystal Feimster as the Pierson Head of College. Second, he was chosen by the current Head and Dean of the College as a Pierson FroCo for the 2023-24 academic year. When other applicants were asked who they thought would make a strong FroCo among their classmates, Eli’s name readily came to the lips of several interviewees, a testament to the widespread respect and trust he has earned among his peers. It is for all these reasons that he is being celebrated with the F. Wilder Bellamy, Jr., Memorial Prize.”

“Kenan Collignon’s galvanizing presence has buoyed Saybrook well past the challenges of the Fall 2020 semester. He is a part of the glue that holds our college’s community together. Kenan approaches life at Yale with a genuine enthusiasm for exchanges in the classroom and an awe at being a member of a university community with so many brilliant, creative, and kind members. Kenan is not only a student who stands out among our group of ~530 Saybrugians but is a person who radiates the good life at Yale.”

John C. Schroeder Award

This award, which honors former Calhoun College master John C. Schroeder, is given to students who have contributed to residential college life and who, in the opinion of the committee, will “play a part in the good labor of the world.”


Ryan Brinda has been the heart and soul of Benjamin Franklin College this year, leading our return from pandemic conditions and the restart of our fledgling traditions. He served as BF council president this year, and much of the college social life has run through him. As the college created traditions for the second time, Ryan took the lead, reestablishing many college wide traditions, including the Founders Ball and Franklin Fling, and inventing more. His friendly attitude made him a universally respected figure with everyone in the college, students and staff alike.  Ryan’s organizational and community skills extend beyond Benjamin Franklin College. He has been an ambassador and recruitment coordinator for Yale Admissions, helping to organize the largest ever Bulldog Days, which have just been completed, as well as a leader of the Yale club swim team. He is a strong MB&B major, and served as a health policy research intern last summer in Wyoming. His contributions to Benjamin Franklin College will continue next year as a FroCo, and he will doubtless continue to serve and lead all of the many communities he is part of in the future.”


Majoring in Mechanical Engineering, Thembi aims to create systems that promote both human welfare and environmental sustainability.  She co-founded the Yale Student Energy Association, which has organized events and discussion groups on the topics of renewable energy, transport, and decarbonization.  As part of the Solar Decathlon Competition, Thembi designed off-grid sustainable housing to combat homelessness in San Francisco.  Originally from Malawi with secondary schooling in Zimbabwe, in the last academic year she returned to Zimbabwe to develop the first fully solar-powered chicken-egg incubator systems that are low-cost and thus accessible to rural populations in that developing nation. Thembi is co-vice president of the Yale African Student’s Association, with which she co-organized the first Yale Africa Innovation Symposium.  She has been an instructor for Yale Young Global Scholars, leading New Haven high school students on solution-seeking research topics around health care, economics, and gender-based violence in developing societies.  Next year, Thembi will continue to shine her uniquely bright light of positivity in our college community as a Berkeley First-Year Counselor.”


Hilary, who served as Branford College Council co-president in 2022-2023, fully embodies the values that are recognized by the John C. Schroeder Award. She has been a leader in our college and on campus, serving in roles in BCC throughout her time here. The care, warmth, and creativity with which she’s supported community life and her peers in Branford is beyond compare — whether it’s supporting Branfordians with individual projects through the BCC microgrant, which she and her co-president piloted, or whether it’s arranging a large-scale college event that thinks expansively about what different types of students will find welcoming and meaningful to do together. Hilary’s ethical commitments direct her scholarship and work beyond Branford, too: she’s worked with the Yale Law Journal and the Indigenized Energy Initiative, as well as with Yale’s Organic Farm. She’s passionate about climate justice and about sustainable practices, and she always works to uplift, include, and empower those around her. She’s been an important partner for college leadership in shepherding our community through the pandemic, and are confident she will have a similarly meaningful impact in her senior year and as she takes the next steps after Yale.”


Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Oleksii Antoniuk has worked hard to construct an enabling civil societal response to the war in Ukraine, including on the Yale campus. His work on Ukraine’s behalf has involved his activities as the founding president of Ukraine House at Yale, in which he has hosted massive Yale rallies for Ukraine and led successful fundraising efforts for Ukrainian war relief. He has also galvanized the Alexander Hamilton Society of Yale (of which he is a former president). Oleksii has understood his Yale education to be a vital opportunity to engage in academic and civil action to prepare for a lifetime of future service. Indeed, this multilingual student — fluent in Ukrainian and English, and with a reading background in Russian — has also immersed himself in Chinese courses while also enrolling in courses on foreign policy and international relations, evincing an acute understanding of how he can contribute to Yale academically and also of the possibilities that his education can provide for global political action.”


Arushi Dogra has two great loves — the study of science and the pursuit of social improvement efforts — and the hours to which she has devoted both are truly impressive. Arushi has been co-director of the Yale Hunger and Homelessness project for the past three years. In this position, she has contributed to community outreach and advocacy for the purpose of countering food insecurity in New Haven. As a counselor for the Crisis Text Line at Yale, she provided bilingual support and empathetic listening to those in need. Arushi volunteers with the New Haven Chapter of CT Students for a Dream, which provides college application assistance to undocumented teenagers, and for the HAVEN Free Clinic, where she advocates for uninsured patients and helps match them with the clinic’s health programs.  Finally(!), Arushi has served as an Academic Strategies Mentor at the Poorvu Center for the past year, focusing on students from historically underprivileged populations as well as organizing a mental health focus group. The efforts that Arushi has put into our town and college communities are admirable, and verge on incredible when you consider that she is a premedical student who has authored several published scientific articles and worked as a research intern in CRISPR gene editing at the Yale School of Medicine. Arushi’s passion, her perseverance, and her strong belief that actions do make a difference mean she will one day be an empathetic and powerful leader.”


Ramsay Goyal is a junior from Los Angeles majoring in Urban Studies. He is passionate about city planning and utilizing transportation technologies to confront climate change. He is a councilman for the Olympic Park Neighborhood Council in Los Angeles and has worked as a project intern for the Metropolitan Transportation Agency, also in Los Angeles. He is a beloved and vital member of the Morse College community, serving as the President of the Morse College Council [MCC] during his sophomore and junior year. He led the elevation of MCC into a high functioning, high energy Morse hub for creative, high spirited student involvement. His commitment to Morse and his personality have benefitted every member of his college.  His altruism and 'good labor of the world' can also be seen in his work with New Haven REACH, a student-run organization that assists under-resourced public schools and low-income high school senior with college applications. With his leadership at Morse, the New Haven area, and his hometown, Ramsay is a well-deserving recipient of the John C. Schroeder Award.”


Lydia Monk is someone who embodies the virtues of intellectual inquiry, interpersonal joy, and moral integrity, and she is well deserving of being recognized with the John C. Schroeder Award. Lydia’s pathway to Yale led her from China, where she was given up for adoption as an infant and placed in an orphanage till age 2, to Eu Claire, Wisconsin, where she was adopted and raised by a single mom. A Cognitive Science major with a 3.9 GPA, Lydia has worked as a research assistant in the Yale School of Medicine (where she did rabies viral tracing) and as a project intern in Pediatric Pain, Palliative, and Integrative Medicine at Children’s Minnesota. But she has not just thrived in academic settings: in her residential college, her impact has been deep and multi-faceted. Since her first year, she has been a Pierson College aide, and this year she has served with distinction as the head aide for the Pierson Administrative Office. For two years, she also served as the college’s sustainability liaison, having become passionate about food systems from her time working at a farmer’s union camp. In that role, she worked closely with our Operations Manager(s) to provide an ethical compass for the community’s efforts to reduce waste and overconsumption. Indeed, in recognition of her outsized contributions, she was awarded a 2021 Yale Residential College Sustainability Award as a “Sort It Out Superstar” for her on-campus materials management and the educational value of a program she designed and implemented to distribute sponges for students to wipe out their recyclables. Outside of Pierson, she has also been an advising fellow for Matriculate, a Trip Leader for FOOT (for which she is Wilderness First Aid Certified), a trip coordinator and publicist for Yale Outdoors, the treasurer of GREEN at Yale, and a community health care van volunteer for the Yale Hunger and Homelessness Action Project. In all of these areas, her altruism and commitment to social service have come to expression, qualities that make her an eminently worthy recipient of the John C. Schroeder Award.”


Mariela Barrales and Mirabel Nguyen are a wonderful embodiment of that not only is leadership a contact sport, but it is often a collaborative one. Throughout their tenure at Yale Mariela and Maribel have devoted countless hours to making Saybrook as welcoming a space as possible. This began as an effort toward helping their class pivot to in-person experiences as sophomores in Fall 2021, to virtually turning reviving college life within Saybrook into a vocation. Whether it was attending to the social-emotional wellbeing of their peers through study breaks, mental health relief opportunities, or reawakening the almost forgotten spirit of “Amigos Nights,” Mariela and Mirabel played a pivotal role in navigating student life from the depths of the most turbulent phase of this pandemic. These have garnered the respect of their peers and the Saybrook college administrative staff as evident by their nomination as Saybrook’s incoming Head FROCO & Head Aide respectively. Their fidelity to Saybrook is only exceeded by their commitment to doing good in their home communities and to expanding opportunities for those who might not have access to the resources often needed to excel.”


Aster’s incredible hard work in the college and beyond makes her a perfect fit for the John C. Schroeder Award. She has been a leader on campus and beyond in terms of her selflessness, altruism, and care for her global neighbors. Aster is an active member of student groups within Silliman College, throughout Yale University, and beyond. She works as a student assistant in The Office, facilitating a weekly trans/gender-nonconforming support group; serves on the Gender Resources @ Yale Committee; is the treasurer of Trans@Yale; is the co-coordinator of the Community Health Educators; and she organized bimonthly outreach events in the New Haven community such as Trans Community Lunch. These efforts have been recognized by Columbia’s Summer Public Health Scholar program as well as by President Salovey, who selected her to serve on the Yale Health CEO search committee.”


Since his arrival on campus, Kaleb Assefa has played an integral part of nearly all aspects of TD community life.  During his first year when the campus was fully remote, Kaleb stood out for his warmth and camaraderie and willingness to join in — especially in Intramurals — in building team spirit to help TD win the Tyng Cup. As the head intramurals secretary and valued member of the TD aides team, Kaleb with his easy-going manner continued to draw in students to connect and establish friendships. A Global Affairs and Molecular, Cellular, & Developmental Biology double major and aspiring doctor, Kaleb has devoted time and energy to global health justice by participating in organizations such as Wax & Gold, dedicated to improving health outcomes of newborns in Ethiopia. As a writer for the Yale Review of International Studies, he has continued to research Ethiopia’s efforts to improve its technological infrastructure while confronting environmental issues and diplomatic challenges. As an alto saxophonist and jazz afficionado, he has worked with the Yale Undergraduate Jazz Collective to host Larry Blumenfeld, jazz critic of the Wall Street Journal for a conversation with Professor Michael Veal on the topic of jazz and its relationship to social justice and community empowerment in the U.S.  This collaboration has since opened the door to more exciting collaborations between the college and the greater undergraduate jazz community. Next year, Kaleb will become the head counselor of TD’s first-year counselor team while continuing to serve as an Intramural Secretary. We are grateful for his steadfast leadership and devotion to the college.”

Joseph Lentilhon Selden Memorial Award

The Joseph Lentilhon Selden Memorial Junior Award is given each year to a member of the junior class of Yale College whose verve, idealism, and constructive interest in music and the humanities exemplify those qualities for which Selden is remembered. In recent years this award has gone to students especially notable for their contribution in the field of music.


An award-winning violinist dually enrolled in Yale’s M.M. program in Music while earning a B.S. in Chemistry, Albert Gang stands out not only in that he reflects the Selden spirit, combining music and humanistic study, but also because he has done so at the top of his class. Before Albert arrived at Yale, it was clear that he saw his musical talent as a life-long pursuit, and one that he envisioned as community-building. A member of the Yale Symphony Orchestra, Albert serves as first violin and concertmaster and is heavily involved in the Yale music scene, where he has also served as assistant music director for the Doox of Yale acapella group. This was indeed true, in a more lighthearted way, when Albert played at Hopper’s festive trident unveiling ceremony in the college dining hall, with a nod to one of its nautical artifacts. He played a brilliant rendition of The Little Mermaid’s 'Under the Sea,' which met roars of applause from the student audience. While he seems to excel in everything he does, Albert’s passion is music, and he continues to grow in service to his Yale community and beyond, in performing it and in inspiring the community with the art he so loves.”


Abigail Yadegar is a brilliant scholar of music and the humanities. She has always been fascinated with the artistic expressions of different cultures and has studied French, Hebrew, and Italian. A History of Art major, Abi has been praised by her instructors for her penetrating observations in class discussions, her strong work ethic, and her 'eloquent, compelling, and natural' writing style.  Outside the classroom, Abi is the co-editor of the Yale Undergraduate Journal of Art and Art History, and is co-president of The Women’s Network. Having served as a Yale Center for British Art guide for two years, Abi is currently the coordinator to the guides program.  Abi spent her past summer as an intern with the LA Holocaust Museum, where she helped curate exhibits and collect the testimonies of survivors.  Abi plays violin, but her main love is singing. At 16, she won the international 'American Protégé Competition' and showcased her rich and mature soprano voice by singing at Carnegie Hall. Abi performed with 'Out of the Blue' the past year as well as acting as their music director. Abi was recently selected for the Whiffenpoofs and will be taking a leave next year to travel and perform with them. In Abi, you have an accomplished musician and passionate humanities scholar who loves nothing more than sharing her beautiful voice with others.”


Kameron Duncan is receiving the Joseph Lentilhon Selden Memorial Award honoring a junior with particular 'verve, idealism and constructive interest' in the field of music. As a physics major on the intensive track, Kameron balances a unique combination of excellence with both the performance arts and the sciences. His masterful skills in piano are a gift he shares willingly, even when he sprained his hand and even during COVID. While all classes and extra-curricular functions were taking place on Zoom, Kameron offered free piano lessons as a way to draw students together and share in the joy of music. Kameron has also excelled at Yale as a member of several music groups, including playing chamber music, singing in choral and A capella groups, and joining the Yale Guild of Carillonneurs. Kameron is a very well-loved member of Morse College. He never seems to steal the limelight — being as discreet as he is talented. His senior year will no doubt be filled with weekend after weekend of musical performances for all of Yale and the New Haven community to enjoy.”


An extraordinarily talented musician and composer, deeply immersed in the academic and humanistic study of music, Jonathan uses music to build community and to lift up others. He is the very essence of an artist who brings joy to those around him. Jonathan’s musical activities and accomplishments are numerous and diverse. At Yale, he composes for the Yale Undergraduate Chamber Orchestra, the Yale Drama Coalition, and Attune, a Yale Daily News podcast; is actively involved with the Yale Center for Collaborative Arts and Media; and sang with Redhot and Blue, among numerous other activities. More than that, Jonathan shares generously of his musical talents and believes strongly in the power of music to unite and to heal. Through 'Hear Your Song,' he partners with children and teens with serious illnesses to compose original songs, and he tutors his peers in music theory through the Yale Department of Music. Recently, the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven awarded Jonathan the inaugural Chauncey Fellowship in recognition of his outstanding character and vision to merge art and service after graduation. Jonathan is himself thoroughly embedded in the performing arts communities at Yale, but he goes so far beyond, making an effort to include everyone.”


Adrian Kyle Venzon is a well-deserving recipient of the Joseph Lentilhon Seldon Memorial Junior Award. An English and Education Studies major, Adrian is interested in thinking about what anti-racism looks like in classrooms, and to this task he also brings a deep commitment to the value of music and the humanities. His music skills are noteworthy. Adrian has been a member of the Yale Spizzwinks, and he took this past year off to practice and tour as a bass with the Whiffenpoofs. He also has performed with an urban/hip hop dance group. But it has been the way Adrian has linked music, dance, and education in his community service that makes him stand out. During the pandemic, he served as a co-president of CityStep Yale, an organization that partnered with the New Haven Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services (IRIS) in hosting after-school dance classes for 10-to-14 year olds by Zoom. The sessions involved conversations about family traditions, language, and cultural music and dance and provided a platform for the building of friendships and support structures. Adrian has also been active in the Anti-Racist Teaching & Learning Collective, for which he created a classroom resource entitled “22 Anti-Racist Books for Young Students,” a curated set of texts designed to help facilitate discussions of multiculturalism, diversity, queerness, and community. Locally in the college, he has played a valuable role as a Pierson aide. Adrian’s contributions to music, the humanities, and community service embody the academic and artistic values celebrated by the Joseph Lentilhon Selden Memorial Award.”


Max is a skilled and dedicated musician who has shared his talent with his residential college community and beyond. He is the recruiting director for Opera Theater of Yale College, and he has been the musical director for numerous Yale College Arts performances and is well known for being a soloist as well as a collaborator with many campus groups. His place as Yale’s most distinguished undergraduate pianist is widely recognized, and indeed admired by his peers. Max embodies the spirit of Joseph Lentilhon Selden because he is a leader who brings his love of music to others and puts enormous work into shaping diverse musical communities at Yale for the better.”


A Computing and the Arts major enrolled in the Education Studies certificate program, Maggie Schnyer has married her interests in STEM with her continued devotion to the arts and humanities. In her spare time, she has fully explored the arts at Yale — music, theater, and film. As a first-year at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, she joined the Davenport Pops Orchestra (Dpops) as a violinist. She quickly rose to leadership positions within Dpops as co-president, assistant conductor, and social chair of this highly successful 90-person, entirely student-run orchestra.  She moved beyond playing and performing on the violin — the instrument she studied for over 13 years — to taking drum lessons with no expectations of ever performing. When it became clear that Dpops needed percussionists she switched and now only plays percussion for Dpops. She has expanded to playing drums for a student jazz combo, Nebulous Time, organized under the Yale Undergraduate Jazz Collective.  In these settings she performs with flare and passion as well as creativity and generosity towards her fellow bandmembers. A director and composer, she has also written a piece for voice and violin performed with mezzo soprano Jen Beattie at the Center for Collaborative Arts and Media. She has served as music director and conductor for undergraduate theater projects such as In the Heights. In 2021, Maggie along with several of her peers also began the Cinemat, a student organization aimed at introducing students to all aspects of filmmaking. The Yale arts community is richer for her curiosity, care, devotion, and passion.”


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