Camellia Awards

camellia flowers

2021 Camellia Student Leadership Awards

Welcome to the 2021 Camellia Student Leadership Awards webpage. Congratulations to all of this year’s Camellia Award nominees and recipients!

Individual Nominees

Sarah Abdulkerim ’22

Ella Apostoaie ’21

Sophia Ashebir ’21

Julia Boca ’22

Teran Chapis ’22

Catrina Chen ’21

Zoé Cheng ’21

Katie Christoph ’21

Celine Christory ’21

Katharine Conklin ’22

Nayanika Das ’21

Stephanie De Avila ’21

Sophie Dowdy ’21

Charlotte Durham ’21

Ada Eke ’23

Alex Ewing DS

Ellie Frato-Sweeney ’24

Grace Griffin ’22

Iris Simone Haastrup-Sanders ’22

Ayla Han ’21

Zoe Heywood ’22

Nechama Huba ’23

Tatiana Ivy Moise ’21

Lia James ’21

VJ Jones ’22

Maggie King ’21

Madison Ann Lee ’21

Anna Li ’23

Alexandra Martinez Lopez ’22

Kristine Meader ’21

Giselle Mota ’22

Corinne Muller ’21

Maureena Murphy ’24

Aisling Novick ’23

Michaela Olah ’24

Tatiana Ortiz ’23

Maddie Paoletti ’22

Lauren Park ’21

Lianne Quaynor ’24

Marlen Renderos ’21

Alexis Rivett ’21

Charlotte Emily Ryan ’21

Sabhyata Sedhain ’23

Michelle Shui ’21

Vita Solorio-Fielder ’21

Jaime Tracewell ’23

Elizabeth Um ’23

Tyler Vargas ’21

Caroline Witten ’21

Julianna Wright ’22

Rachel Wu ’23

Courtney Yang ’24


Group Nominees

2020-21 Residence Life Student Staff

Biochemistry Student Advocates

Community Inclusion Facilitators

Econ/ES 199 Students

FLI Network Student Coordinators

HHMI Inclusive Excellence Interns

Home Away from Home Bates Summer Group

House President's Council

Outdoor Space Project Team

Pan-Asian Council Co-Chairs

Paulson Initiative and Botanic Gardens Antiracism Ambassadors

Renew Wellesley

Student Access Advocates

The Wellesley News

Walenisi Community Leaders

Wellesley for Boston Children's Hospital

Wellesley for Life Executive Board

Wellesley x Hollywood Event Series Organizers

Award Recipients

It is our pleasure to announce the recipients of our 2021 Camellia Student Leadership Awards. Each recipient of an individual award will receive a custom-designed camellia pin made especially for Wellesley College and the Camellia Student Leadership Awards. Student groups award recipients will receive Camellia Student Leadership Award commencement cords in navy, pink and white and will have their group name engraved on the Camellia Awards perpetual plaque which is displayed in the campus center. Please see the Camellia Awards main page for full description of each award.

Individual Recipients

  • Balanced Leadership: Charlotte Durham ’21

    The Balanced Leadership Award recognizes a student who has demonstrated leadership in the classroom and through intentional co-curricular engagement, while at the same time demonstrating a commitment to personal well-being. Nominees in this category successfully manage multiple commitments and activities, without compromising their physical, mental, or spiritual wellness. Compelling nominees are intentional about seeking balance as their own practice, and also model it for others around them.

    This year’s recipient, Charlotte Durham ’21, has spent every year at Wellesley working towards keeping our community healthy, both mentally and emotionally. She has been a part of the Balanced Health Educators peer group for years, currently serves as the BHE President, works at the Office of Student Wellness, and is always ready and enthusiastic about encouraging all her peers to utilize the resources available at the College.

    Charlotte’s ability to lead others is notable in her other accomplishments as well. She served as an Orientation Mentor at the Admissions Leadership Panel to discuss what balanced leadership looks like and addressed the relevant topic of Imposter Syndrome for 300-400 potential students. Charlotte also served on the student advisory board and was editor/consultant for the Willow project (WCW depression-prevention program). Lastly, her work with Students for Divestment involved collaborating with Trustees and Administration, in partnership with College Government. Charlotte truly has the ability to immerse herself in areas where she can make a change for the larger community and has proven herself a true leader.

    One nominator stated “She is consistently taking care of herself, her friends, and the community at large by emphasizing the importance of sleep, a healthy diet, seeking academic support when needed, and advocating for yourself. Charlotte is the perfect candidate for the Balanced Leadership Award; I can think of no one I trust more in and out of the classroom to prioritize fair and equal well-being.”

  • Community Cultivation Leadership Award: Marlen Renderos ’21

    The Community Cultivation Leadership Award recognizes a student who has demonstrated leadership by building community on campus, based on a foundation of trust and empathy. This year’s nominations for this award shared stories of students who have taken on big challenges in our community by centering on care for their peers, grounded in the belief that we are better together. Marlen Renderos’ nomination was no exception, as her commitment to social justice and empowerment is based on a participatory ethos in which respect for others, collaboration and solidarity are essential for the co-creation of a better world.

    Marlen has brought this ethos along with many other gifts to the Wellesley community, and has made a tremendous effort toward shifting our campus culture toward greater cooperation and mutual empowerment. In addition to her ongoing commitments to her studies, volunteer work and internships, Marlen stepped into yet another leadership role this year in Raíz, a student organization advocating for the rights and well-being of immigrant and refugee communities. Marlen has directed her energies toward building bridges among various communities on campus affected by immigration policy, and through this work contributed to establishing legal clinics, career education resources, and a fund to support students with immigration-related expenses. Marlen has proven to be a genuinely caring and nurturing person who has the ability to form meaningful relationships with a wide range of people using her strong interpersonal communication skills, active listening and her empathy to connect with others.

    She enjoys interacting with diverse populations of people, welcomes different ideas and positively engages others in difficult dialogue in order to hear each other’s experiences and perspectives. As one nominator wrote, “Her commitment to inclusive and non-hierarchical methods is clear in every one of her endeavors, where she fosters an atmosphere of mutual learning, acceptance, and respect.” We are therefore thrilled to be presenting the Camellia Community Cultivation Leadership Award to Marlen Renderos—we can think of no better recipient.

  • Creative Leadership Award: Sophia Ashebir ’21

    Sophia Ashebir spent the early days of the coronavirus pandemic calling individuals in Massachusetts who had tested positive for the virus as a Partners in Health Contact Tracer. Through that experience, Sophia learned that community support was as integral to restoring health as medicine and isolation. Sophia brought this desire for “a connected community despite the pandemic” as one nominator wrote, back to Wellesley where she recruited a “dream team” of her peers to the Outdoor Spaces project. Sophia guided her peers in dreaming big about how to connect their Wellesley sibs to each other using the campus, itself. Sophia directed her group that no idea was too silly or out of reach to suggest and then set about making those ideas a reality. Sophia and her team pursued funding and approvals from offices across campus to make their outdoor space a reality.

    One nominator wrote, “I am continuously awed by Sophia’s resourcefulness and willingness to collaborate. She is imaginative because she wants to create a better environment for the student body.” Another shared, “Sophia Ashebir has been a force of creative, innovative idea-making for her entire time at Wellesley College.” A third noted, “She fostered creativity and input across the group and always contributed well-thought out ideas and ways of implementing them to positively improve our campus for years to come.” Sophia’s creativity in leadership will benefit her Wellesley siblings for years to come.

  • Resillience in Leadership Award: Iris Haastrup-Sanders ’22

    The Resilience in Leadership Award recognizes a student who has led others in pursuit of a common goal while modeling resilience. This student has demonstrated resilient leadership through a constructive response to challenge or change.

    The winner of this year’s Resilience in Leadership Award is Iris Haastrup. In the wake of George Floyd’s murder in May 2020, protests in Chicago led to the closure of local grocery stories and the suspension of the public school system’s food distribution program. Seeing a gap for food insecure communities on the South Side of Chicago who had no other options, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic, Iris started the South Side Grocery Pick Up Initiative—a project offering groceries, hygiene products and hot food to those in need. She developed flyers and organized a social media campaign, resulting in thousands of donations in both funds and supplies, engaging many volunteers and creating direct support for her community. Iris has since gone on to serve as the president of Youth for Black Lives in Chicago, where she is working to expand this impact. As one of her nominators explained, Iris is “a tenacious, resilient, and motivated individual... who shows up for everyone. Iris works tirelessly to grow as an individual, while encouraging her community to do the same.” During a year of devastating loss —personal, social and systemic—Iris has demonstrated remarkable resilience, supporting her community in creative and powerful ways. We are delighted to recognize these contributions with the Resilience in Leadership Award.

  • Team Leadership Award: Lia James ’21

    The Team Leadership Award recognizes a student regardless of a formal leadership position who has demonstrated leadership by positively contributing to group dynamics and motivating peers to move toward a shared goal, often without recognition.  Nominees in this category focus on the collective effort, bringing out the best in everyone and steadily developing a pipeline of new leaders. Compelling nominees are effective in ways that may be highly visible or not at all known to the larger community, and are able to plot a course for their team that is sustainable and ensures continuity.

    The recipient of this year’s Team Leadership Award is Lia James. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic Lia has been a leader in the Wellesley Theater community, consistently stepping up to ask where she can be of assistance in bringing the Upstage community together as president of the organization. With physical distancing and remote learning throughout this academic year, Lia managed the organization of a virtual performance of “Tiny Plays from Quarantine”with members of Upstage.  As one nominator mentioned, “Lia has kept the student theatre community lifted up even through the restrictions they are experiencing, turning them into opportunities.” Lia has embodied the spirit of team leadership through her continuous involvement, encouragement and energy, motivating the community at large to find moments of hope throughout the last year.

  • Emerging Leadership Award: Maureena Murphy ’24

    The Emerging Leadership Award recognizes a first year student who has demonstrated leadership potential through ongoing cultivation of leadership skills and active engagement in campus life. In the short time nominees in this category have been on campus, they have already made an impression as members of our community, taking initiative to recognize and celebrate others, taking on new responsibilities, demonstrating empathy and engaging in difficult and important conversations with their peers.

    This year’s recipient is Maureena Murphy. During the fall semester, Maureena organized a campus-wide initiative, called “Fundraiser 4 Love” to show appreciation for staff members in dining services and facilities. Through this initiative, Maureena was able to fundraise $1200 and saw the project through to completion. One nominator shared, “I’ve been grateful to mirror her fresh and optimistic energy about Wellesley.” These sentiments support Maureena as a leader in the Wellesley community and the Camellia Award Committee looks forward to seeing Maureena continue to develop as a leader throughout her time at Wellesley.


Group Recipients

  • Collaborative Excellence Award: Renew Wellesley & Econ/ES 199

    members of es199

    members of es199


    The Collaborative Excellence Leadership Award recognizes a group of students who have demonstrated leadership by taking collective initiative toward a new goal or initiative that could not have been accomplished independently. Working together towards something greater than themselves, they have combined their knowledge, strengths, skills and resolve to make meaningful change.

    The winners of this year’s Collaborative Excellence Leadership Award are the members of Renew Wellesley and the students of ECON/ES 199. Over the course of several semesters, these two groups have worked to bring about Wellesley’s divestment from fossil fuels. This remarkable achievement was only possible through their combined leadership, creativity, perseverance, ambition and commitment to a timely goal. Focusing on their shared vision, they worked across majors, class years and semesters, adapting their strategy by engaging in diplomacy and advocacy, research and dialogue. In each stage of this effort, they deepened their knowledge on this topic, engaged their peers and community, utilized empathy to understand the various perspectives and motivations involved, and demonstrated resilience when they faced disappointment and had to change course. They drew encouragement from one another, put the strengths of individual members to excellent use and ensured that their ultimate success was a sustainable one. Wellesley’s decision to invest from fossil fuels is historic and a testament to the incredible collaboration of this large and momentous team.

    Members: Claire Hayhow ’21, Andreea Sabau ’23, Elizabeth Borecki ’21, Caitlin Campbell ’22, Katharina Christoph ’21, Samantha Elato Cuneta ’21, Neeraja Deshpande ’23, Kelsey Dunn ’21, Charlotte Durham ’21, Laura Dyble ’22, Zoe Ferguson ’22, Sophia Greenberg ’21, Alex Hussey ’23, Cricket Liebermann ’23, Bella O'Connor ’21, Miray Zeynep Omurtak ’21, Jenny Wang ’23, Jessica Wu ’21, Karina Zimmerman ’23

  • Community Partnership Award: Wellesley for Boston Children’s Hospital

    Wellesley for Boston Children’s Hospital e-board

    In a typical year you can find the 60 + members of Wellesley for Boston Children’s Hospital catching the commuter rail into Boston between classes to provide support for children and families receiving treatment in the hospital and staying at two family houses nearby. In March of 2020 as the world began to close down and “distance” became the norm, Wellesley for Boston Children’s Hospital found a way to stay connected. This group worked with hospital and family houses to understand their patients changing needs and the hospital’s changing protocols. In the fall of 2021, Wellesley for Boston Children’s Hospital, added an additional challenge of needing to also factor in Wellesley’s campus safety protocols. Throughout this unusual year, Wellesley for Boston Children’s Hospital created hundreds of “play bags” for children and families. They worked to make sure that each item was approved, sanitized, and packaged. They also worked to coordinate distribution of the bags from Wellesley to Boston. In a year when most volunteers stepped back, Wellesley for Boston Children’s Hospital stepped up and responded to the needs of their community partner while providing connection and community on campus.

    Executive Board Members: Charlotte Emily Ryan '21, Kelly Hsu '21, Molly Mann '21, Shez Jafry '21, Lorna Li '22, Nena Kotsalidis '22, Amy Lin '22, Lorelai Pop '23, Audrey Mock '23, Maddie Schwede '23, Shruthi Sundar '23, Cindy Zeng '24, Subi Simmons '24

  • Inclusive Leadership Award: Community Inclusion Facilitators

    Community Inclusion Facilitators

    Community Inclusion Facilitators

    The Inclusive Leadership Award recognizes a student or group of students who has demonstrated leadership through action that expands involvement and inclusion of peers across differences.

    Recipients in this category ideally demonstrate an ability to build bridges across cultural, political, social, economic, or other barriers to cooperation and communication. Compelling nominees further demonstrate an ability to facilitate conversation in ways that create space for everyone’s voices to be heard.

    We are pleased to present this award to the Community Inclusion Facilitators (CIFs), a group of peer leaders trained to lead workshops on social justice and identity-related issues. These students have demonstrated extraordinary leadership throughout this year, promoting inclusion across differences by facilitating difficult conversations among members of student organizations on topics such as privilege and oppression, and what it means to be an ally and accomplice in efforts toward social justice.

    CIFs effectively create safe and brave spaces to have these difficult conversations through their compassion and active listening. Not only do they master teaching key concepts such as classism, racism, gender identity, sexual orientation, intersectionality, and more; they also make these concepts accessible by relating them to students’ daily experiences in a way that people will understand. As a result of these conversations, many student organizations have started to engage in transformative processes of becoming more inclusive, such as working to destigmatize receiving financial aid and making their activities more accessible to all students. Some organizations have even requested multiple workshops because they learned so much, and have been even more inspired by seeing their peers facilitate the workshops. As one nominator shared, “the CIFs compassion, dedication, and professionalism have ignited transformative processes for student groups to become more inclusive.”

    Members: Lizette Mier ’22, Iris Li ’22, Devanshi Gupta ’21, Regina Gallardo ’23, Karen Alvarez Julian ’21, Ana Luisa McCullough ’22, Ann Xu ’22, Marglucy Omwega ’22, Kristi Spiru ’22, Jessica Flores-Olguin ’22, Lyanna Toh ’23, Teo Gariepy ’22, Julia Philippe-Auguste ’22, Jenna Hua ’22, Xafsa Aden ’22, Matilda Berke ’21

  • Sed Ministrare Award: House Presidents’ Council

    House Presidents' Council

    The Sed Ministrare student leadership award recognizes a student or group of students who has demonstrated leadership by giving of themselves to make Wellesley a better place and inspires their peers to do the same. The nominees in this category have demonstrated a passion for Wellesley and have made great contributions within our community.

    The House Presidents’ Council (HPC) had the challenging task of creating a dynamic campus community during an unprecedented time when personal interactions were limited. Though this year had its obstacles, House Presidents’ Council, was still dedicated to their purpose. The heart of their work is giving back to the communities they lead, striving to give residents a sense of belonging and self-awareness, and fostering inclusive excellence and intercultural awareness within our communities.

    HPC demonstrated their investment to the community by listening to student’s thoughts and concerns. Through several meetings among new leaders, they ensured that a thoughtful dialogue was in place between key administrators, student groups and others.  HPC centered the voices of Black and Brown sibs by following the call to action from Harambee leadership last Spring. In the end, HPC engendered a strong and focused forced to begin reconsidering campus safety, particularly in the residence halls. Their determination and collaborative spirit was exceptional especially at the early stages of their team formation. In the interim, they and the rest of the RA team took on the additional work to ensure that lockouts could be provided mindfully to all students. To achieve such a task in the midst of COVID speaks volumes of the commitment of this team in service of all.

    House Presidents’ Council has created opportunities to build connections and improve the campus experience though their collaborations with students, staff, and administration. They truly represent this award through their commitment and dedication to the residential experience on campus.

    Members: Caroline Alt ’21, Karen Alvarez Julian ’21, Catrina Chen ’21, Katharine Conklin ’22, Satvika Devrani ’21, Ade Khan ’21, Chloe Larkin ’22, Angela Liu ’21, Hannah May ’21, Emily Quin ’22, Isabella Roberts ’21, Vita Solorio-Fielder ’21, Caroline Witten ’21


Dean’s Honorable Mentions

  • Sarah Abdulkerim ’22

    Sarah Abdulkerim ’22 for her work highlighting the experiences of students of color in technology and helping to improve the relationships of students and faculty in the CS department.

  • Maddie Paoletti ’21

    Maddie Paoletti ’21 for her leadership in partnering with the Stone Center to help students remotely and on campus address the mental health challenges of COVID-19.

  • Co-Chairs of the Pan-Asian Council

    Co-Chairs of the Pan-Asian Council (Jenn Duan '21 and Tulay Akoglu '21) who have gone above and beyond to lead the Asian student organizations amid the challenges of COVID-19 and the rise of anti-Asian racism.