Merrimack College Celebrates Best of Student, Campus Involvement

The 2024 edition of the L.E.A.D. Awards recognized Merrimack students and organizations that made impactful contributions on the campus community over the past year.

Over the 2023-24 academic year, Merrimack College’s student organizations, student leaders and Office of Student Affairs staff hosted more than 1,000 events, averaging out to about four every day.

And that commitment to involvement, service and the campus community was once again celebrated at the College’s annual L.E.A.D. Awards on Wednesday, April 24, the Rogers Center for the Arts. More than 500 people attended the event to celebrate the students and organizations that made impactful contributions to the campus and surrounding communities of the past academic year.

“What makes Merrimack truly special is our community and the spirit, talent and dedication of our students,” said Sarah Dionne, associate dean of health and wellness in her opening remarks. “And that’s why we’re gathered here today, to celebrate you and all that you bring to Merrimack and our surrounding communities.”


Warrior Spirit Award

The Warrior Spirit Award is presented to students or student organizations who create a positive impact, add a little boost to Merrimack’s step and are examples of what it means to be a Merrimack Warrior.

Jandeliz Hernandez ’25

Throughout the year, Hernandez organized numerous events at the Unity House, notably the acclaimed Breaking Bread event, which created a safe and inviting environment for student connection. Continuing to grow as a leader and an Orientation Coordinator, her dedication promises continued success in enhancing campus life, inspiring us to build a more inclusive community. 


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.

Association of Latinos Moving Ahead (A.L.M.A.)

Under the leadership of Yasmin Davis A.L.M.A has positively impacted the Merrimack community through successful events such as Rep Your Flag and Loteria to promote cultural awareness. Collaborating with various campus offices and clubs like the Unity House and the Honors program, A.L.M.A. ensures Latinx students feel supported and represented on campus while inviting the broader community to experience Latin culture. 


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.

Amia J. Meikle ’27

Rory Perretti ’26

Chris Rincon ’25


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.

Loraine Rodriguez ’24

As a Student Government Association senator, Rodriguez is always looking out for her fellow students. She is career-focused and uses her skills and commitment to encourage her classmates to achieve more. She is a champion for inclusion and will make herself uncomfortable for the comfort of others.


Unity Award

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

Jackson Fortune-O’Brien ’24

Fortune-O’Brien is deeply involved in the Merrimack community, engaging in sports, activism and education while showing compassion and empathy for others. He readily takes on challenges and tasks for others, demonstrating his selflessness and willingness to help. 


Father Jim Wenzel Mission Award

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

Rebecca Fisher ’24

Her unwavering dedication to serving others reflects her profound sense of purpose and commitment to making a positive difference in young lives. Guided by her faith, Becca’s values permeate every aspect of her life, shaping her relationships and aspirations. 


New Student Organization of the Year

The New Student Organization of the Year Award is presented to an SGA-recognized student organization that was created within the past three academic semesters. This organization has shown considerable initiative and development in its first semester(s) as an organization and has worked hard to not only build a strong interest group, but has also given back considerably to the overall Merrimack community.  

Her Campus

In its third semester, Her Campus has made significant strides as a student organization, overcoming challenges inherent in establishing a new club with multiple focuses. Through the formation of specialized teams for writing, editing, social media, marketing and events, Her Campus efficiently delegated tasks and clarified member responsibilities. They take pride in their cohesive branding and the dedication of their members, who balance writing for Her Campus alongside their academic commitments. 


Joseph P. Daley Award

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

Alex Conte ’24

Conte is an exemplary leader at Merrimack, known for his boundless energy and commitment to teamwork. Engaged in various roles such as SGA, admissions ambassador, musician and athletic events announcer, he consistently gives his all and serves as a dependable mentor. 

Raice Szott ’24

Szott is a standout leader both on Merrimack College’s campus and in the local community, exemplifying the College’s mission of community engagement and support. She initiated the Merrimack College Women’s Hockey Community Service Committee, organizing various volunteer and fundraising efforts to benefit local nonprofits, first responders and the Ellie Fund. 


Unsung Student Organization of the Year

The Unsung Student Organization of the Year Award is presented to an SGA-recognized student organization that has made tremendous strides this year in promoting and expanding its organization’s impact on the campus.

The National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE)

NSBE has put on many beneficial events for students, ranging from Zoom calls to networking events with SharkNinja. While its focus is on engineering, it actively includes students from all majors. Events like movie nights and conferences in New Jersey have not only provided valuable skills for job searches, but have also enhanced the organization’s leadership capabilities. 


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.

Molly Kueter ’24

Kueter has demonstrated outstanding leadership and commitment to both academics and the Merrimack community, particularly through her involvement in the Austin Scholars program and various campus activities. Despite challenges posed by COVID-19, Kueter’s dedication to the Augustinian community remained steadfast, contributing to the success of her class in the Austin Scholars program and maintaining active involvement in related organizations. 


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.

Samuel Barresi ’24

Olivia Bourque ’24

Anthony Gentile ’24

Grace McIntyre ’24

Casey Stevenson ’24


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.

Let’s Innovate – 3D Roses Event 

Let’s Innovate distinguished itself by pioneering the first Late-Night Social Programming event, featuring a meticulously planned 3D Roses Event. The group’s effective promotion via Warrior Network, campus flyers and social media yielded impressive attendance and positive feedback, marking it a standout success deserving of recognition.


Student Organization 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.

Active Minds 

Active Minds has maintained its prominence on campus through consistent bi-weekly events featuring self-care activities and mental health resources. Its dedicated e-board prioritizes attending SGA meetings for organizational updates, and this year, it expanded its outreach with bi-weekly tabling events, demonstrating its commitment to community support. 


Advisor of the Year

This award is presented to the advisor of an SGA-recognized organization who strives to make an impact on both the organization and its students. 

Connelly Clifford

Clifford’s exceptional dedication as an advisor to Active Minds is evident in her consistent support and adherence to Office of Student Involvement guidelines, ensuring smooth operations within the organization. By actively participating in SGA meetings and providing mentorship to students, she plays a pivotal role in their personal and professional growth, contributing significantly to the success and well-being of Active Minds members. 


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.

Harrison Bell ’24

Bell exemplifies true leadership through his unwavering commitment to living a purpose-driven life and uplifting others along the way. With a blend of analytical prowess and a golden heart, he embodies the essence of empathy and dedication. 

Victoria Klimek ’24 

Klimek exemplifies the essence of the William J. Murray Memorial Award through her unwavering commitment to social and spiritual growth, embodying Fr. Murray’s values of concern, open-mindedness and compassion. Her outstanding academic achievements reflect her dedication to knowledge acquisition and its application for the betterment of the community. 


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.

Maxwell Beland ’24


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