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College establishes award to recognize student leaders

The College of William and Mary established the Recognizing Achievement in Leadership (RAIL) Committee this fall through the Office of Student Activities to highlight the contributions of student leaders to the Williamsburg Community. “RAIL looks for those students who add depth and breadth to the College,” the committee’s web site states. Each month the committee names an outstanding student leader(s), nominations are solicited from students, faculty, and staff. Awards have been given for Oct. and Nov.

In November, Lilli Mann (’07) was recognized for her leadership in establishing a “Latinos in the U.S.” themed-service month for the Greater Williamsburg community. Mann led a team of fellow students to create awareness of Latinos in our community and traveled to the Eastern Shore to work with migrant workers. The month cumulated in the “Let’s Eat Together!/Todos Junots!” dinner spearheaded by Mann. The dinner brought together 175 members of the William and Mary and Williamsburg community for the free event. The evening included dinner, salsa music, dancing, and conversation­in both English and Spanish.

“At the end of the evening, not only did Lilli succeed in pulling off a successful event in terms of logistics, she also succeeded in bringing together diverse communities for a night of understanding and reaching out,” said Lauren Grainger, assistant director of student volunteer services, in nominating Mann.

In addition to her work with Community Service Leaders, Mann also served as a trip leader for Project Mexico, volunteers with the Rita Welsh Adult Literacy Program, is one of three co-editors for the bi-monthly Spanish-language newsletter, “Student Initiative for Latino Public Health (SILPH)” and was recently inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa academic fraternity.

October’s RAIL recognition went to two students, Denis Beausejour (’08) and Samantha Fien-Helfman (’09), for conceiving, planning and implementing a new student event/fundraiser. The Green and Gold Affair, a fall social event from which a portion of the ticket price was directed to student organization funding, is likely to become a new William and Mary tradition. The event aided 55 student organizations.

“Not very many events are able to attract 900 plus people in the first year,” said nominator Anne Arseneau, associate director of student activities.

On campus both Beausejour and Fien-Helfman hold positions in student government though they organized this event apart from those roles. Fien-Helfman is also a member of the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority.

The RAIL Committee is comprised of a student peer group and led by RAIL Advisor Kelly Jo Larson. Larson also serves as the graduate assistant for leadership programming for the college.