L.E.A.D. Awards Celebrate Student, Campus Life Excellence

The annual ceremony, held in the Rogers Center for the Arts on April 26, recognizes students and organizations that made impactful contributions to the campus community over the past year.
At this year's L.E.A.D. Awards, it was announced this year saw 15 new student organizations and more than 1,000 student events.

Over 300 attendees celebrated this year’s best and brightest Merrimack students and organizations at the annual L.E.A.D. Awards.

The ceremony, held on Wednesday, April 26, at the Rogers Center for the Arts, saw Paul Mulhern, associate director of residence life, as the evening’s master of ceremonies. Father Raymond Dlugos, O.S.A., vice president for mission and ministry, opened the event with a prayer. 

Afterward, Allison Gill, vice president of student affairs and success, delivered opening remarks. She stated that in the past year, the Student Government approved 15 new student organizations and more than 1,000 student events were held.

“It has been a great year and we have much to celebrate,” she continued. “The Merrimack name and brand is strong and for those here that are seniors, know that this is something to be extremely proud of as you become a Merrimack alum.”

SWAG Award

The SWAG Award is presented to students or student organizations that create a positive impact on the Merrimack community and are examples of what it means to be a Merrimack Warrior.

Ollie Piazza

  • One of Communication’s unsung heroes, Ollie assisted the Athletics communications team produce shows while also serving as a first-year experience mentor.

Men’s Ice Hockey 

  • This year’s stellar season helped bring the Merrimack community together game after game. The team also dedicated themselves to supporting the college’s other 27 varsity programs.

Blue and Gold Award

This award is presented to the student, organization, or program that raised social and/or cultural awareness among the Merrimack Community, and generated not only awareness, but also conversations on campus.
  • This year marked the first UpLift day at Merrimack College. Their nominator shared that it was designed to increase morale for women in the weight room, the event was designed to provide knowledge on nutrition, improve body image, and learn more about using the fitness center as a whole. Events included a StrongGirl Lifting Showcase, Deadlifting Workshop, Nutrition Discussion and a week of themed Fitness classes.

Cultural Program of the Year

This award is given to the program that educated and fostered open conversations about diversity and inclusion on the Merrimack campus.

Latinx Showcase, hosted by the Association of Latinos Moving Ahead

  • In recognition of Hispanic/Latin American Heritage month, ALMA brought local Dominican folklore dancers to perform during the pregame celebrations at Merrimack football’s home opener and hung Latin American flags around campus. 

Cultural Organization of the Year

This award recognizes a student organization that has cultivated awareness of diversity and inclusion on campus through programming, lectures and informational events.

Association of Latinos Moving Ahead

  • ALMA organized more than 15 events this year, including a Pop-Up Bachata, Dominican Night at Augies and a Latin Dance Night. 

Outstanding Student Leader Awards

These awards are presented to students who stand out among their peers as those who exemplify enthusiasm in Merrimack College through their attitude, behavior and involvement. They maintain high standards of learning, are involved in a variety of facets of campus life and serve as role models to other students.

Gabriella Zola ’26

Mariia Diahilieva ’26

Bryan Costa ’25

Jandeliz Hernandez ’25

Amber Bean ’24

Harrison Bell ’24

Donna Swartwout Unsung Hero Award

This award is given to a student leader on campus who is actively involved in student organizations and various offices on campus. They support campus events and encourage others to support and participate in campus events and initiatives.

Sean Janerico

  • During his time at Merrimack, Sean worked in the Admissions, Campus Ministry and the engineering department. His nominator shared that he is someone who will always support his peers and will put others before himself. 

Evan Jones

  • Evan Jones served as president of Kappa Sigma, worked as a publicist for SGA, was a teaching assistant and was active in Merrimack’s Honors Program. 

Unity Award

This is a new award that recognizes a student that has cultivated awareness of diversity and inclusion on campus through programing, lectures, and informational events.

Rowan Salhi

  • Rowan has always captured the moment whether it be through his camera or through his advocacy of DEI on campus. Their mentor shared that Rowan has been on the forefront of supporting all DEI initiatives but also being an educator for our LGBTQ+ community as President of GSA or one of our main facilitators for safezone. His presence will always be remembered here on campus.

Autumn Bates

  • Autumn has been a trailblazer in her years at Merrimack. Her mentor shared that she makes an immediate impact as an RA especially this year working within one of the first year halls. Her dedication to want to make a difference transcends through her work as VP of BSA and working within the Unity House. This past year she has worked to bring a multicultural greek lettered organization Omega Phi Beta in hopes it provides a space for other to join greek life. She is a true advocate for our BIPOC students’ needs.

Father Jim Wenzel Mission Award

This award is given to the students or organizations that best exemplify the Augustinian Catholic values of Merrimack College.

Antonio Ferriera 

  • A man of service and leadership, Antonio was involved in Austin Scholars and previously served as president of the student leadership program. 

Arts Organization of the Year

This award is presented to a student-run arts organization that has contributed significantly to the cultural climate and fine arts atmosphere of the College and the surrounding community.

MackBelievers Improv Club

  • Since its inception two years ago, the undergraduate and graduate students of the MackBelievers Improv Club have spread laughter and positivity through several self-organized comedy shows. 

Joseph P. Daley Award

This award is presented in recognition of outstanding character and unheralded service to the Merrimack College community.

Annie Santerre

  • Annie has served as president of Merrimack’s choir, singer of the Merrimack College Rock Band and Jazz Band, and played lead roles in a number of OnStagers Dramatic Society productions. She also taught voice lessons as a teacher’s assistant.

Campus-Wide Program of the Year

This award is presented to the student-run program that most successfully developed, promoted, executed and positively impacted the Merrimack community.

Family Feud, hosted by the Athletic Diversity Committee

  • The Merrimack-themed spin on the popular game show drew a crowd of more than 100 attendees this year. Contestants were quizzed on cultural history, sports and Merrimack history.

Academic Organization of the Year

This award is given to the academic affiliated student organization that demonstrates a commitment to academics and a dedication to developing skills through co-curricular activities.

American Marketing Association

  • This year, the organization traveled to New Orleans for the intercollegiate conference and arranged guest lectures with employees of Gillette Stadium, the ALKU, AMA Boston and 36 Creative Collab. 

Allen J. Ash Outstanding Service Award

This award is given to the senior or seniors who have made an outstanding contribution to the senior class.

Rebecca Needleman

  • Rebecca worked alongside the Office of Student Involvement to plan events, work with student employees and create marketing materials.

Student Org of the Year

This award is given to the student organization that strives to improve in the areas of programming, recruitment, retention, administrative tasks and co-sponsorship with other organizations and offices on campus throughout the year. This organization sets the bar for all other student organizations.

Let’s Innovate

  • The newly-formed student organization is currently working to add more features to a fellow student’s walker so they can be more independent when traveling around campus. 

Travis G. Kong Student Leadership Award

This award is given in recognition of outstanding service to the Merrimack College community. The award was established by the Senior Class Gift of the Class of 2010 in honor of Travis Kong, a member of their class who passed away during his sophomore year.

Emma Gorski

Cintia Khouzami

Nicole Hersey

Kiley Martel

Abigail White

William J. Murray, O.S.A. Award

This award is presented to a senior who is a role model for others and who, through his or her lifestyle, emulates Fr. Murray’s concern, open-mindedness and compassion for others and makes a conscious attempt at social and spiritual growth. The award was established by members of the Class of 1983 to honor Fr. Murray, a former vice president for student life at Merrimack.

Lily Schaefer-Calderon

  • Over the past two years, Lily headed the College’s New Student Orientation along with Pro-Staff members. She brings a lens of awareness and advocacy to everything she does, and she has made Merrimack a better community for it. 

Jasmine Gonzalez

  • Jasmine has been a member of the ALMA board for all four years of her Merrimack education – currently, she serves as the organization’s president. Throughout her tenure, she played a major role in promoting LatinX culture through partnerships with the Unity House, Honors, Athletics and Sodexo. 

Merrimack Medal

The Merrimack Medal is awarded to the senior who exemplifies outstanding character and achievement of service to their classmates and the Merrimack College community. This is considered the most prestigious non-academic award.

Nick Barber


For more information on the Athletic Lead Awards, click here.


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