We were reminded of just how impressive our students are when it came time to hand out our Department's new undergraduate awards, presented at the 2010 Communication Days keynote presentation.
The Robley Rhine Student Leadership Award was presented to Fan Zhang, a student from UCD's International College at Beijing (ICB) who is spending her junior and senior years on the Denver campus. Shortly after she arrived on campus—even as a new Chinese student in America, studying in a language not her own—she organized a club for Chinese and American students to help Chinese students thrive in our American culture and to encourage American students to learn about Chinese culture. She also used her intercultural awareness to help the department develop promotional materials for ICB. She served as the president of the ICB student union, where she organized numerous activities to build community among students and faculty.
A second recipient of the Robley Rhine Student Leadership Award was Julian Long, who returned to college after many years of successful work in advertising. Julian was honored for his leadership in the classroom, where he places high demands on his fellow students and helps them meet those demands. Professors are delighted when they see Julian's name on a class roll because he "sets the climate in whatever classroom he is in." Julian explains what motivates his leadership in the classroom this way: "I really just try to encourage my peers to go a bit deeper. I'm only trying to get them to think past 'I got the grade I needed'."
Alan August was a co-winner of the Lael Porter Community Service Award. Alan volunteers with Denver Open Media, where he teaches classes in editing; coaches community members; and produces and edits community-based television programs. He also served in the Americorps UCAN Serve Program and assisted CoPIRG with a drive to address hunger and homelessness. Alan reads The Denver Post to the blind with the Audio Information Network of Colorado, which requires that he roll out of bed every Sunday at 7:30 to make the news come to life for those who cannot see.
So many of our students provide valuable service to their communities that we chose to honor a second student, Linda Guthrie, with a Lael Porter Community Service Award. Not only was Linda among the best students in the Communication Department, but she still managed to do volunteer work, including tutoring imprisoned students and helping to assemble a prison-based magazine. She also served as a tutor for at-risk students and as a court-appointed special advocate investigating cases of child neglect and abuse. Linda describes her motivation for service in this way: "I think we limit ourselves when we fail to reach beyond the boundaries of the campus. To really learn and grow, we must challenge ourselves to reach beyond comfort and to go to a place where we might need to do more than just read a book or write a paper.”
The Sonja K. Foss Award for Academic Excellence was awarded to Caitlin Mock, who wrote a Latin honors thesis, "Spark: The History, Crisis and Solutions to Rape in America." Dr. Hartnett, her thesis director decribed the work as "a startling, at times over-powering document that stands among the most impressive pieces of work I have ever seen produced by an undergraduate." Caitlin's commitment to empowering women and experimenting with new forms of scholarship exemplify the intellectual commitments of Dr. Sonja Foss, after whom the award is named.