By Samantha Plumley – 1851 Staff
The 2016 Leadership Recognition Dinner was held at the Wellesley Country Club on October 13 and gathered notable members of the Lasell community to recognize the importance and impact scholarship donations have on the student experience. The room was packed with students, alumni, faculty and donors, including some who have buildings named after them on campus.
“It’s a networking opportunity to get to meet Lasell faculty and alumni in a more personal setting,” said senior Tyler Hurst, a member of the Student Alumni Association, with other members also in attendance. Overseers and trustees were also in attendance, meeting many Lasell students.
After a welcome from President Michael Alexander, recipients of the Lasell Bowl and de Witt awards from last May’s annual Awards Banquet were acknowledged.
The award presentation began with the GOLD Rising Star Award, given this year to Patrick Slight (’13). The GOLD Rising Star Award is presented to a recent graduate who has made a meaningful contribution to the community.
Medallion Award recipient Kyo Yamawaki, an honorary graduate of the class of 1993, shared her reaction after reading a letter from a student thanking her for her generous donation to the college. In the letter, the student said Yamawaki’s donation had been essential to their education. “I can be happy knowing my humble gift would do something for them,” said Yamawaki. The Medallion Award is passed out to those who bring honor to Lasell.
The Simmonds family also received the Medallion Award for their efforts with the Dennis “DJ” Simmonds Memorial Scholarship Fund. The fund supports criminal justice scholarships in honor of Boston Police Department Officer Simmonds. Simmonds (’08) passed away in 2014, a year after assisting in the Watertown shootout after the Boston Marathon Bombing. His legacy lives on through the scholarship fund.
Senior Yordan Villalon shared his heartwarming life story and how scholarships have helped fuel his college career. His family’s multiple attempts at leaving Cuba were the first steps on Villalon’s long journey to becoming a United States citizen and achieving his life goals. Villalon shared the highs and lows he faced on his path to Lasell and noted the many individuals who helped him defy the odds and fulfill his dream of being the first member of his family to graduate college. Villalon is also a captain of the men’s basketball team. He received an extended, misty-eyed standing ovation.
Leaders Among Us award recipient and keynote speaker Kirk Davis, CEO of Gatehouse Media, stressed the importance of self-awareness throughout his speech and encouraged students to strive for continuous improvement. He followed this by saying being young does not mean an individual is inexperienced. “We are all among leaders,” said Davis.