Several graduating seniors were honored with Institute awards at the Class of 2018 President’s Banquet, which took place Monday, May 14, at the Albany Marriott. President Shirley Ann Jackson presented the six awards in front of approximately 500 seniors and 100 faculty and staff members.
“Tonight, we are celebrating the wonderful connections we all have forged over your time at Rensselaer, and the wonderful global community you soon will join, as Rensselaer alumni and alumnae,” said President Jackson. “It is my privilege to recognize six outstanding members of the Class of 2018 whom we honor this evening with senior class awards.”
The 2018 Livingston W. Houston Citizenship Award, which honors the “First Citizen of the College”—the recipient must rank high in character, leadership, scholarship, and athletic ability—was given to Danielle Sauve. Sauve, a chemical engineering major, is a Dean’s List academic performer who has served as a women’s swimming and diving team captain. She has been a national qualifier in women’s swimming all four years she has lettered for the Engineers. For three seasons, Sauve was named a CSCAA Scholar All American and Liberty League Academic All American. Outside of the pool, Sauve is a campus leader, serving as a Women at Rensselaer Mentor in the peer mentoring program. She has also completed Alzheimer’s research on campus with Professor Georges Belfort. After graduation, Sauve will remain in the Capital Region and work for Momentive Performance Materials.
The Leopold L. Balleisen Prize—which was established by Donald H. Balleisen in memory of his father, a graduate in the Class of 1918—honors a senior who has won a varsity letter in at least one sport during two undergraduate years and who stands highest academically among those thus qualified. The prize was awarded to Steven Collins. Collins has proven to be the epitome of a scholar-athlete, graduating with a 4.0 GPA in chemical engineering as an undergraduate and in quantitative finance and risk analytics as a graduate student. Collins is a member of SAAC (Student-Athlete Advisory Committee), Omega Chi Epsilon Chemical Engineering Honor Society, and serves as a research associate in the Rensselaer Center for Biocatalysis and Bioprocessing. He has also interned with Johnson & Johnson (drug purification) and with Futbol Club Copa Academy (operations). Off campus, he has volunteered for Not So Scary Kids Day with the Special Olympics. His nominator is equally impressed with his work on the men’s soccer field, as he was selected “All-Liberty League Honorable Mention, three-time Liberty League All-Academic, three-time CoSIDA Academic All-District First, two-time CoSIDA National Academic All-America, and ECAC President’s Honor Roll.” Collins has accepted a full-time position with ExxonMobil.
The Willie Stanton Award, established by the Rensselaer Union in honor of William P. (Willie) Stanton, a dishwasher and cook who served the academic and social needs of Rensselaer students for over 45 years, is presented annually to the senior who is judged to have contributed the most to the service of the student body. This year there were two equally deserving awardees: Rasika Ekhalikar and Paul Ilori.
Ekhalikar has been involved in numerous Union organizations including the Indian Student Association, has served as vice president of the Union Executive Board, and has overseen E-board committees such as Marketing and Communications, Student Government Communications, Union Annual Report Committee, Student Life Committee, Hospitality Services Advisory Committee, Club Operations Committee, Policies Committee, and Red Army. A computer and systems engineering major, she has served as a student employee as a Union system administrator. According to her nomination: “Rasika is one of the faces in the Union that is recognizable as a person of service and assistance. She has worked to make the Union a home to many communities; a place that provides services and products to those in need; and has joined in events and programs helping to build community and spirit for Rensselaer. As the vice chair for the Executive Board, she has provided services to clubs and organizations. She has worked to maintain a positive rapport with club officers providing excellent advising as a senior leader. Rasika has poured her soul into the Union and breathes life into everyday activities.”
Ilori has been active in numerous clubs and organizations as well. He spent three of his four years in the Student Senate, chaired the Rules and Elections Committee, and served as the 151st Grand Marshal. When issues arise on campus, he is often sought out to assist because of the history and knowledge he has of policy and procedure. He is respected by his peers as a go-to leader when issues arise that require process compliance. An aeronautical engineering major, Ilori is active in his fraternity, Sigma Epsilon, and is a member of Capoeira and BSA. He has contributed to the campus and surrounding area through numerous fraternity and community service-based projects such as Clothe-A-Child. He has offered assistance to other organizations by assisting with setup or breakdown, and has helped to oversee student government events. According to his nomination, “Paul can always be counted on to volunteer to assist with events that will benefit other RPI students or visiting students. He was very excited to assist with our Star Weekend and other events in the Clubhouse Pub. Paul will remain a familiar face to all in the Union.”
The Shakuntala and Krishna Deva Malaviya Public Service Award recognizes a graduating student who best exemplifies sustained excellence and selflessness in the service of others over his or her academic career. The inaugural recipient of this award was Hannah Rabinowitz.
Rabinowitz’s nominator describes her as “truly a giving and passionate student who has dedicated a significant amount of her Rensselaer career to the service of others.” An aeronautical engineering major, she was her sorority’s (Alpha Gamma Delta) philanthropy coordinator last fall. This consisted of planning fundraising events for diabetes research and awareness, in addition to planning other community service events for the chapter to participate in. When Rabinowitz took the position, it was an added responsibility on top of another leadership role in the house, which speaks to her true passion and loyalty to volunteering and helping others. In her first 10 weeks in the role, Rabinowitz raised $1,200 for the charity. She has also participated in many other events, including Relay for Life, a suicide awareness walk, a heart walk (in Tulsa when she was on co-op), and a lupus awareness walk. She is also part of the Sigma Gamma Tau honor society for aeronautical engineering and the Order of Omega Greek Honor society, both of which participate in community service projects throughout the year. While on co-op, she worked with her employer to raise money for the American Heart Association and was praised for raising the most money in her office. Rabinowitz has also choreographed a dance for 25 people to compete to raise money for the Life Nets organization. She also participated in Lambda Chi Alpha’s Watermelon Bash and Strike out Strokes events, in addition to consistently volunteering for the Greek Week of Service.
2018 Undergraduate CLASS Recognition and Achievement Award
Clustered Learning, Advocacy, and Support for Students (CLASS) is the transformative student experience at Rensselaer. Through robust, intentional co-curricular learning opportunities, CLASS represents distinctive student engagement for the New Polytechnic. The CLASS Award recognizes a member of the graduating class who as a leader exemplifies the ability to solve complex challenges through intellectual agility, multicultural sophistication, and a global view. This year’s recipient is chemical engineering major Erin Arthur. Arthur has been both a resident assistant and resident director in the Office of Student Living and Learning. She worked with the Warren Hall community to support her residents and offer programming. Some of her program highlights include her “Spring Into Action Program,” where she worked with her staff to host an event to write letters of support to the faculty and students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, to design and make a supportive banner for the hall to sign, to register students to vote, and to write effective letters to their local members of Congress. She also organized a pilot “Strengths Quest” program. Arthur established and is currently running a pilot program to identify and expand the individual strengths of her staff in order to benefit team cohesion and hall programming.
On campus, Arthur was the founding president of the Society for Biological Engineers. She worked with the national chapter to bring a campus chapter to Rensselaer and grew the club to 50 members. She also booked educational speakers to offer seminars to expand knowledge of the biological engineering industry. This semester, she worked with Professor Woodcock, Professor Plawsky, and a group of four other seniors in a senior morphology lab to develop a new lab based on 3D printing for chemical engineering seniors to use next semester. She was previously a lab technician at the Milewicz lab in Houston, Texas, and a paper she worked on is currently being published. Her nominator writes, “Erin has been an outstanding student and mentor in her time at Rensselaer. She is well-deserving of this recognition!”
In addition to the student awards, Dedication and Devotion awards were given by the Class of 2018 Class Council to Rensselaer faculty or staff members for their impact on the senior class. Three faculty members were chosen by the class: Ali Shahsavari, lecturer in mechanical, aerospace, and nuclear engineering; Jeff Braunstein, professor of practice in electrical, computer, and systems engineering; and Jim Young, lecturer in mechanical, aerospace, and nuclear engineering.