Service-minded students take home annual CCL awards

New award recognizes contributions of student-run volunteer groups

Community service is a mission Rice students take seriously, especially those honored at the Center for Civic Leadership’s (CCL) annual Service Awards luncheon. Held April 22 in Farnsworth Pavilion, the event recognized undergraduates and grad students alike whose commitment to service goes above and beyond.

John Collier, executive director of Caring Friends In Deed, awards a scholarship to graduate student Taehoon Im. (Photos by Katharine Shilcutt)

John Collier, executive director of Caring Friends In Deed, awards a scholarship to graduate student Taehoon Im. (Photos by Katharine Shilcutt)

“What’s going on at Rice (is) kind of amazing,” said John Collier, executive director of Caring Friends In Deed, which provides one of the annual service scholarships through the CCL. “We see this tremendous energy from these extremely bright students who are giving 10, 15, 20 — we have even seen 30 — community service hours a week, and we wonder how you have time to go to school.”

Salonee Shah, a Hanzsen College junior, typifies the hard-working, service-minded students Collier praised. The pre-med student double-majoring in social policy analysis and poverty, justice and human capabilities is planning to apply her interest in immigrant and refugee health care as a physician working in pediatric health care policy. Shah was awarded the $3,000 West University Rotary Club service scholarship in part for her work as president of Rice’s chapter of Partnership for the Advancement and Immersion of Refugees (PAIR).

PAIR received its own honor at the luncheon: a Spirit of Service Award. Also given to two other Rice service clubs this year — Rice University Alzheimer’s Buddies and Civic Duty Rice — the $1,000 awards are new for 2019. Sponsored by the Rice Student Volunteer Program, the Spirit of Service funds are meant to recognize and encourage the contributions of student organizations that respond to the needs of the greater Rice and Houston communities.

“I truly had a great year being president because of the passion and dedication that I see in the volunteers every time I work with them — and also the resilience and optimism that we see in our refugee kids,” Shah said as she accepted the award on behalf of PAIR. “This has been a little bit of a tough year for PAIR due to some funding issues, so I just want to say that this will really, really help us improve upon our program for next year.”

2019 Center for Civic Leadership Service Award winners in Farnsworth Pavilion

Eleven Rice students and three student-run organizations were honored at the April 22 event.

The CCL luncheon also included the awarding of the annual Morty Rich Scholarship and Alan Grob Prize to seven students. Their service ranged from acting as Alternative Spring Break ambassadors and Rice Health Advisors to volunteering at Baylor College of Medicine and organizing youth voting initiatives.

“I want to thank all of the students for working tirelessly in our community and, as you’ve heard, going above and beyond in so many ways,” said Caroline Quenemoen, the associate dean of undergraduates and director of Inquiry-Based Learning who oversees the CCL, in her closing remarks.

“I think it is impressive, all the time that you take to spend in the community and to contribute to the community, whether it’s through political action or through nonpolitical means,” she said. “I think the Houston community partners in particular really appreciate the work that you do.”

2019 Service Awards

Spirit of Service Award

  • Rice University Alzheimer’s Buddies
  • Rice University chapter of PAIR
  • Civic Duty Rice

West University Rotary Community Service Scholarship

  • Salonee Shah

Caring Friends Inc. Scholarship

  • Taehoon Im
  • Steven Kochvar
  • Zachary Neuser

Morty Rich Scholarship

  • Smeet Madhani
  • Bharathi Selvan
  • Shravya Kakulamarri
  • Meredith McCain

Alan Grob Prize

  • Kseniya Anishchenko
  • Navya Kumar
  • Caroline Lee

About Katharine Shilcutt

Katharine Shilcutt is a media relations specialist in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.