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James Monroe Prize in Civic Leadership

Established in 2005, the Monroe Prize is awarded to a student who has demonstrated sustained leadership of an unusual quality, leadership combined with initiative, character and an unfailing commitment to leveraging the assets of the William & Mary community to address the needs of our society.

Prize Recipients
Recent award recipients of the James Monroe Prize in Civic Leadership
2024 - Jaden Spady '24

Jaden Spady, Class of 2024, we honor you as a civic-leader, a role model and a mentor. You make this community and others more just and welcoming.

On campus, you have led as the former President of the African American Male Coalition, Vice President of the National Pan-Hellenic Council and a William & Mary Scholars Undergraduate Research Experience (WMSURE) fellow. To inspire underrepresented students to attend college, you developed and ran a weekly mentorship program at James Blair Middle School. You coach freshmen (especially underrepresented scholars) through the transition to college life and have fostered intellectual and spiritual growth and brotherhood and sisterhood for students of African descent.

An active participant in our democracy, you worked with William & Mary Voter Engagement to organize voter registration campaigns with the League of Women Voters. You created a historical research presentation to strengthen partnerships with First Baptist Church of Williamsburg (one of the nation’s earliest African American congregations). During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, you hosted a virtual panel with fellow student leaders around the region to set best practices for social activism.

Your dedicated volunteering and fundraising have supported the missions of national nonprofit organizations, including the March of Dimes. During summer and winter breaks, you provided mentoring, coaching and leadership development for the Boys & Girls Club in your hometown of Woodbridge, Virginia. For your accomplishments, you were appointed the Youth of the Year (2020-21). As a state-level ambassador, you used your platform to educate, advocate and share your personal story.

To paraphrase your nominators and the selection committee: you are an invaluable member of the William & Mary community. Your leadership roles and desire to support those who have been historically excluded make this university a more welcoming place. As a role-model, you encourage others to make a true difference.

Jaden Spady, by believing in the power of your story, with grit and determination, you have inspired many to join your efforts to promote belonging at William & Mary and beyond. The university is proud to honor you with this year’s James Monroe Prize in Civic Leadership.

2023 - Sophia Haile '23

Sophia Hagos Haile, Class of 2023, through your tireless efforts to advance inclusivity for students of color pursuing STEM, you make our community a more just and welcoming place. You are a campus leader as student president of the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers (NOBCChE), a member of the African Cultural Society and a Writing Resources Center peer consultant. You spearheaded the formation of a mentorship program for students enrolling in introductory chemistry courses. As a research assistant, you delved into the systemic perception and treatment of Black adolescents in the criminal justice and education systems. And you served as a facilitator helping Sodexo employees on William & Mary’s campus form a recognized union in October 2022.

Your civic leadership has deepened William & Mary’s connections in our communities. You played a pivotal role in organizing an outreach event for 108 students from an underrepresented high school. These students experienced William & Mary’s Integrated Science programs and facilities. As part of this event, you helped convene inspirational small group discussions with William & Mary science students and faculty, campus and lab tours and chemistry department demonstrations.

Beyond your commitment to empowering the next generation of future scientists, you have also applied your talents in preserving history and raising funds for those in desperate need. As a research intern for the Fairfax Cemetery Preservation Association, you helped preserve and consolidate research on 100 Vietnam War veterans from the Northern Virginia area. The resulting database provided an accessible outlet for relatives of veterans to learn about and connect with their loved ones. Additionally, your philanthropic efforts with the African Cultural Society helped shed light on the plight of Ethiopian refugees in the District of Columbia and raised funds to support their needs.

On this campus and beyond, your efforts have amplified inclusion and belonging. Beloved by your peers, you have cultivated a cohort of students of all races and identities who care for one another and our community.

Sophia Hagos Haile, by believing in the power of your story, with grit and determination, you inspire every community you serve to be more just and welcoming. Consequently, William & Mary is proud to honor you with this year’s James Monroe Prize in Civic Leadership.

2022 - Cameron Lynch '23

This year's recipient, Cameron Lynch, has tirelessly championed for the rights of disabled people at William & Mary and at the regional, state and international levels. Cameron has served as undersecretary for Disability Affairs in Student Assembly; member and re-energizer of the Student Accessibility Services Peer Advisory Group; and as a confidential peer advocate for the Haven.

She fought isolation and vulnerability among disabled people by creating “Chronic and Iconic,” a global weekly Zoom support group and Instagram presence. Because of these efforts to make William & Mary a more welcoming community for disabled students and her potential to further disability rights, William & Mary is proud to honor Cameron Lynch.

2021 - Jamelah Jacob '21

Jamelah Jacob, Class of 2021, you have consistently demonstrated active citizenship through your volunteer experiences. You serve as a catalyst of innovation and leadership and have earned the respect of your peers, advisors and community members.

As president of the Filipino American Student Association, chair of the Asian American Student Initiative and editor in chief of Art & Hatsuye, you have promoted cultural awareness in order to address the needs of Asian Pacific Islander Americans, Middle Eastern Americans and African Americans.

As student chair of the Asian American Student Initiative, you successfully lobbied for representation of APIA students at faculty meetings where programs were being constructed. As part of this initiative, you created a resource list of internships for students either majoring or minoring in APIA, developed a mentor program for prospective and current APIA students and championed an Asian Pacific Middle Eastern graduation ceremony. For these efforts, you were awarded a grant from the Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC) to study external civil rights.

In support of the Center for Student Diversity, you developed and supported educational programs that foster social justice awareness. Furthermore, you used social media to encourage reflection on the issue of pervasive racism, advanced programming for the Preparing for Life as a University Student (PLUS) program and orchestrated a Get Out The Vote initiative.

Beyond the boundaries of William & Mary's campus, you have interned or worked in the Washington, D.C., Mayor's Office, for the 1882 Foundation and for the Japanese American Citizens League. You advocate for policies and educational programming pertaining to COVID-19, ICE detention centers, immigration reform, the negative impacts of gentrification in Asian-American neighborhoods and strengthening relationships between the United States and Japan.

Jamelah Jacob, as a proven leader and role model for social justice and community advocacy, you show promise for a lifetime of community engagement and civic action. The university is proud to honor you with this year's James Monroe Prize in Civic Leadership.

2020 - Kathryn Monfalcone '20

Kathryn Monfalcone, Class of 2020, your commitment to service and leadership started the second you stepped foot on this campus and in Williamsburg. You have not only demonstrated active citizenship through many different volunteer experiences, but you have also been a catalyst of innovation and leadership that has inspired your peers and members of the local community.

As a volunteer in the community, you have been engaged in mentoring elementary and middle school students, fundraising to support UNICEF and the ALS Association and leading others by serving as student president of W&M’s Circle K International chapter. Your commitment to engaging with others in the community has touched many lives and has inspired others to join your efforts.

When you saw that there was not a service outlet for middle school students – a significant gap within the family of service learning programs in the Williamsburg community – you stepped forward. In collaboration with W&M’s Circle K International advisor and the Kiwanis Club of Williamsburg, you acquired sponsorship and funding to establish a service-learning program at Berkeley Middle School.

In your own words, “It was incredible to watch the two dozen middle school students excitedly plan their upcoming year's activities as they brainstormed ways to reduce their carbon footprint, bring an end to bullying and give back to first responders. Watching my hard work come to fruition in the form of a service outlet for passionate children to make a difference in the world was the most meaningful outcome I could have imagined.”

According to one of your mentors, “Ms. Monfalcone will be the role model young people will look to in the coming years. I can't imagine a greater responsibility and contribution from any William & Mary graduate.”

As a leader and role model for social justice and community advocacy, you show promise for a lifetime of community engagement and civic action, and embody the qualities recognized by the James Monroe Prize in Civic Leadership. The university is proud to honor you with this year's James Monroe Prize in Civic Leadership.

View more recipients of the James Monroe Prize.