Photos Courtesy of the Office of Student Activities and Orientation
By Emily Long and Casey DiBari – Digital Editor and Opinion Editor
On Thursday, April 23, 2020, the Office of Student Activities and Orientation held the annual awards banquet. As a result of COVID-19 and a majority of Lasell students now residing off-campus, the awards banquet was held over Zoom. At its peak, 115 people viewed the virtual awards.
According to Director of Student Activities and Orientation Jenny Granger, the banquet was one event that still needed to be held despite the Lasell community being apart. The process of planning the banquet for an online format started almost immediately after Lasell announced the change of the extended spring break. After weighing their options, Granger, along with the rest of the office, decided to host the awards banquet online. The virtual banquet ended up resulting in many unexpected positives.
“I really did have a tear in my eye from the minute we started to the minute we ended, and it was for like, good. It was like a happy, sad tear because I was so happy that everyone was so excited. It felt like the most laser-ific thing that I’ve been involved in,” said Granger.
Laser-ific highlights included a Zoom group chat that exploded with congratulations every time someone won an award. This also included getting to see the expressions of winners who many people don’t get to see at the in-person affair.
The ceremony awarded many student leaders. Organization of the Year went to LU Pride, who this year has held such events such as the Drag Show, National HIV / AIDS Awareness Day and PRIDE Panel.
Senior Matt Berensten was honored as Student Leader of the Year for his impassioned work as WLAS’s Program Director and, simultaneously, vice president and station manager of Lasell Community Television (LCTV.)
Senior Cecelia Costa won the SGA Thomas E. de Witt spirit award. Costa has been an active student in the school of business, the Hospitality Management Association and helping to organize School of Business Day.
The Lasell Bowls were awarded to seniors who have made significant contributions to the Lasell community.
One student who received a bowl, Katie Jones said “receiving a Lasell Bowl is the greatest honor when it comes to being a student leader at Lasell, next to the Lasell Chair. When I heard Jenny Granger describing me, I was confused at first. I thought ‘this person sounds like me but there’s no way it could be me.’ When she said my name I actually started crying. I can’t wait to see the screen recording because my face must have been priceless.”
This year, the Lasell Chair had a change to it that has only happened twice in Lasell history, in 1996 and 2008. Instead of the usual one recipient of the prize, it went to CAB and Class of 2020 President Kate Kennedy and SGA President Jimmy Kappatos. When explaining how the decision was made to give the award to two people this year, Granger explained the painstaking committee process of picking between Kennedy and Kappatos.
“The people that started talking about Kate would then somehow start talking about Jimmy. And I’m like, you’re all going in the same directions. And they were trying to compare. And it was really hard because it felt like it was apples to apples,” said Granger.
Kennedy said she felt humbled and honored as a first-generation student. “I just wanted to get involved…I never meant to impact a community the way I did.” She also said winning the award with Kappatos, who she also sees as a great leader, was amazing.
“It felt surreal, almost as if it wasn’t true, because I never imagined or pictured myself winning a chair.” Kappatos said, adding “I don’t do things because I want something in return, I do things because I enjoy doing them.” He also said that he and Kate winning the chair together was amazing, adding that most of their college career involved working on events at the school together.
According to Dean of Student Affairs David Hennessey, it was the first time he felt the energy from the students since everyone left in March. “Seeing the excitement from everybody on there, when somebody won an award, I think it was terrific,” Hennessey said, adding “the campus has a vibe and feel of its own, and the students are the lifeblood of it obviously, and this was the closest approximation to it.”
Other winners from the night included Jesse Tauriac, Vanessa Rose, AnnaMarie Seiler, Allie Clancy, Emma Helstrom, Jessica Spillane, Massimo Cungo, Betty Song, and Rosa Del Carmen Gomez.
Despite the change in setting, Lasers still came together for the big night, bringing their pride and excitement and making this year’s banquet, one that will go in Lasell’s history.