Leading by Example
Tandon Student Leaders Shine at Awards Ceremony — and All Year Round
On April 27, the windowed hall leading to Pfizer Auditorium looked decidedly glitzier than usual, thanks to a Hollywood-worthy red carpet, balloon arches, and life-size cutouts of popular actors. The décor was in honor of the Student Leadership Awards, administered by the Office of Student Activities and Resource Center to recognize the individuals and clubs that help unite and enrich the Tandon community.
The ceremony provided an opportunity to dress up, applaud fellow club members, and celebrate, but as Brittney Anne Bahlman, the Director of Student Affairs and Student Activities, pointed out, no one evening — no matter how glittering — can really do justice to the effort and passion that the student leaders devote to their organizations throughout the year.
As proof of that assertion, look no further than Shajeda Ahmed of the Muslim Students Association, who accepted both an individual award for success in engaging the entire school community and a club award for outstanding programming that promotes diversity and cultural competency. “Although the Association has run Muslim Awareness Week in the past, this year we wanted to make it more welcoming and inclusive, so we launched Ask-a-Muslim Week instead,” she says. “Any student who wanted could borrow a traditional head covering, hijab for a woman or kufi for a man, and wear it for a day to experience how that feels. It was interesting to hear that some of the non-Muslim women had a sense of safety and comfort when covered and now understood that hijab is not a sign of subservience or oppression.”
Rawan Abbasi from the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) once won an iWatch at a Student Affairs-sponsored event. Instead of keeping it, she asked that the proceeds be used to fund an empowering martial arts workshop she had been trying to organize along with Ahmed. The recipient of both an individual emerging-leader award (she was recently appointed the director of programming for the Student Council) and a club award for SWE’s outstanding programming to promote interpersonal leadership development, Abbasi explains, “When I joined, SWE was actually on probation because of inactivity, but it’s revitalized now. We’ve hosted professional development workshops in connection with the Wasserman Center, forged respectful and collaborative working relationships with our male counterparts in order to show them that women can make valuable contributions to the STEM fields, and so much more.”
Parth Mehta, who also took home an emerging-leader award, has not revitalized an existing organization: he has actually founded an entirely new one: the Consulting Club, which in its first year attracted more than 100 participants and received funding from the Department of Technology, Management and Innovation. “We’re holding case competitions in which participants are presented with problems like those you’d face at a major consulting firm,” he says. “It might not sound exciting to a layperson, but it’s challenging and fun for anyone interested in consulting as a career.” Lest you think Mehta holes up all year to pore over consulting documents, he is also an ambassador for the Poly Project, the school’s public-service club. In that capacity he has helped clean up a park on Staten Island, tutored in a public school, and worked with the homeless. Next year, he says, the Poly Project may expand to include faculty members and staffers.
It probably won’t take a hard-sell to get them to pitch in. Talking to Mehta or any of the student leaders is an inspiring and motivating experience.
Full List of Winners
- Organization of the Year – Design for America of NYU
- Student Leader of the Year – Ana Bolsoni and Jaswinder Pal Singh Ahluwalia
- Distinguished Engagement Award – Shajeda Ahmed and Jae Woo Lee
- Emerging Leader Award – Rawan Abbasi and Parth Mehta
- Faculty Advisor of the Year – Professor Jose Ulerio
- Outstanding Organizational Growth Award – Chemists' Club
- Outstanding Organizational Management Award – Finance Club
Awards in Outstanding Programing:
- Community Engagement & Civic Responsibility – Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE)
- Diversity & Cultural Competency – Muslim Student Association (MSA)
- Innovation & Critical Thinking – American Association of Blacks in Energy (AABE)
- Interpersonal Leadership Development – Society of Women Engineers (SWE)
- Connection to the Global Network University – Patent Pending