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2017 Campus Legacy Awardees

Story by Brendan Michaelsen

June 12, 2018

After reviewing more than 100 incredible nominations and careful deliberation among members of the NCLC Board of Directors, staff, and Campus Legacy Awards Luncheon host committee, we are thrilled to announce four inspiring individuals and initiatives as recipients of the inaugural Campus Legacy Awards.

These four have made unique contributions to the lives of students, communities, and the future of higher education. Each exemplifies and champions the importance of student leadership, and we couldn’t be more excited to recognize their important work.

Awardees will be honored at the Campus Legacy Awards luncheon on June 5th, 2017. We will announce the Student Body President of the Year during the event (check out the final four here).  The luncheon is open to all who believe in the power of student leadership. We look forward to celebrating this occasion with you!

Vice President Joe Biden, Student Ally Award

The Student Ally Award honors a stakeholder who has significantly empowered student body presidents and advanced student leadership in the past year.

Joe Biden served as the 47th Vice President of the United States from 2009-2017 following six terms representing Delaware in the U.S. Senate. In 2017, President Obama awarded Biden the Presidential Medal of Freedom with Distinction, the highest honor that can be given to a civilian, and the Bipartisan Policy Center awarded him the Congressional Patriot Award for his commitment to bipartisanship in policymaking. Biden’s career itself has exemplified the long term impact of young leaders stepping up into public service. After graduating from law school in 1968, Biden moved to Delaware, to work as an attorney at a law firm. Just two years later, he was elected to the New Castle County Council and immersed himself into the Democratic Party. In 1972, 29-year-old Biden won an upset victory and became the fifth-youngest U.S. senator elected in the nation’s history.

In the Senate, Biden served as Chair of the Judiciary and Foreign Relations Committees. Credited with several landmark legislative successes, Biden drafted and introduced the 1994 Violence Against Women Act, which dramatically shifted how the federal government addresses domestic and sexual violence. In 2008, he was elected Vice President and, upon taking office, moved the Office of Violence Against Women into his office and continued leading efforts to curb gender-based violence and support survivors.

In 2014, then-Vice President Biden launched the It’s On Us campaign to inspire college communities to end campus sexual assault. From the very beginning, he was adamant that the effort be truly student led and looked to student body presidents to adapt the campaign for their campuses. When the campaign launched on September 19 that year, more than 200 student body presidents had pledged to make sexual assault a priority through It’s On Us. The campaign has engaged hundreds of thousands of students and has a presence on nearly a thousand campuses. Vice President Biden’s belief in student leadership and the success of It’s On Us broke the mold of campus outreach and serves as a new student-oriented model for engagement.

In his post Vice Presidency, Biden founded the Biden Foundation and leads the University of Pennsylvania’s Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement and University of Delaware’s Biden Institute. Biden earned his B.A. from University of Delaware, Newark, and his J.D. from Syracuse University. He holds honorary degrees from more than 13 colleges and universities.

Farah Pandith, Presidential Legacy Award

The Presidential Legacy Award honors a former student body president who has made a significant impact on their industry. Their remarkable career and commitment to student leadership exemplify the impact that former student leaders have on society. 

Farah Pandith, a former Smith College student body president, leads an inspiring career that exemplifies the enormous impact that student leaders make after graduation. Pandith is a diplomatic entrepreneur, foreign policy strategist and author. In addition to serving as an adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and a senior fellow at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, she is also a member of Secretary Kelly’s Homeland Security Advisor Council.

During a career spanning over two decades, she has served in the public and private sector. She served as a political appointee in the George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, and Barack H. Obama administrations at the National Security Council, US Agency for International Development and US Department of State. Most recently, she was appointed the first-ever Special Representative to Muslim Communities by Secretary of State Clinton. In this role, she traveled to nearly 100 countries and launched global youth-focused initiatives and networks to counter violent extremism.

Since leaving government in 2014,  Pandith has been advising governments on countering violent extremism and building innovative global programs and organizations dedicated to mobilizing youth against extremist ideologies. Her book, How We Win, will be released in late 2017. Prior to re-entering government in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, Pandith was Vice President of International Business at ML Strategies, LLC in Boston, Massachusetts.

Pandith is a frequent media commentator and public speaker. She is the recipient of many awards including the Secretary of State’s Distinguished Honor Award, the European Academy of Science and Art’s Ring of Tolerance, the Smith College Medal, and the Tufts University Distinguished Achievement Award. She serves in leadership positions on several boards with a focus on international affairs, women’s empowerment, education and cultural diplomacy. She is a key architect of the Women in Public Service Project.

Pandith received a master’s degree from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and an A.B. from Smith College, where she was president of the student body. She is currently a member of the Board of Overseers of The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.

Samantha Zwerling, Rising Star

The Rising Star Award honors a recently former student body president who demonstrates a promising future in civic leadership and commitment to championing student leadership.

Sam Zwerling graduated from the University of Maryland-College Park in 2014, where she was twice-elected Student Body President, representing 26,000 undergraduate students.  During her presidency, Zwerling focused on increasing access to mental health services, advocating for higher education funding, and boosting student participation in local and federal elections.  She also led an effort to reduce the price of textbooks and helped to found the Maryland Open Source Textbook Initiative.

While Student Body President, Zwerling advocated for student interests in meetings with White House staff, members of Congress, the Governor of Maryland, members of the Maryland General Assembly, and local officials. In 2013, UMD’s first year in the Big Ten Athletic Conference, Sam was elected by her peers to serve as the Legislative Director for the Association of Big Ten Students. It was her job to craft a legislative agenda for the Association, plan “Big Ten on the Hill”, and represent the 540,000 students at Big Ten universities.

Now, Sam serves as Chief of Staff to Maryland State Senator Rich Madaleno, Vice-Chair of the Senate Budget & Taxation Committee. During her tenure with Senator Madaleno, she has worked on legislation expanding access to meals for school children, cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay, and reducing sexual assault on college campuses.  Sam currently lives in Washington, DC with her furry friend, Freddie.

Basic Needs Security at UC San Diego, Student Initiative of the Year

The Student Initiative of the Year Award recognizes a student-led initiative that has exemplified student leadership on a national scale, and awarded to a student leader, organization, or SGA that made significant contributions to that initiative.

Basic needs security has emerged as one of the most pressing issues on college campuses. As lawmakers and campus administrators seek more data and information, student leaders nationwide are taking action to develop strategies that support students who face housing and food insecurity. This year, we will honor UC San Diego Student Body President Daniel Juarez for her extraordinary leadership and comprehensive approach to this critical issue.

During her term, Student Body President Daniel Juarez initiated and completed various projects that serve the students at the institution in efforts of affordability, access, retention, and basic needs. Daniel Juarez is a tremendous advocate of basic needs security at UC San Diego and has advocated for the expansion of the Triton Food Pantry, an emergency relief resource that opened in February 2015. Daniel’s efforts of the Triton Food Pantry expansion are phenomenal because of the hesitation of many other campus affiliates to expand a resource like the Triton Food Pantry.

The Associated Students of UC San Diego allocated $30,000 to the project expansion and Daniel tirelessly advocated to have the Chancellor and Vice-Chancellor of Student Affairs match the funds and allocated $20,000 more to the project. The expansion as a renovated space includes an industrial sink for fresh produce and will have an open area for meetings, Calfresh workshops, and food demonstrations. Daniel also advocated for the introduction of a community closet where students can access a variety of professional clothing for interviews. Additionally, Daniel developed partnerships to expand the book lending program and help mores students access academic services. Lastly, Daniel has been a major proponent in obtaining a Basic Needs Coordinator, a full-time staff position that would work full time on basic needs work and case management with undergraduate students.

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