Loyola Marymount University’s 2023 student academic, service, and leadership awards were presented in an inaugural convocation event on Friday, April 21, 2023, in Sacred Heart Chapel. Members of the LMU community, including students, staff, and faculty were joined in the chapel by friends and family members to celebrate the achievements of LMU students. Watch the replay here.
The university presented more than 175 awards to students from first year and graduating seniors to graduate students who have been exceptional scholars and leaders, embodying the ideals of our Jesuit and Marymount heritages.
“When we say that an LMU education is an ‘education of the whole person,’ we are talking about the students who distinguish themselves not only within the classroom as shining stars, but also through their service and leadership within the greater community,” said President Timothy Law Snyder, Ph.D. “I am inspired each year to learn about the ways our seniors have lived in the service of faith and promotion of justice during their time at LMU, while maintaining academic excellence and stretching their imaginations to explore and discover what may have seemed, at least at first, unimaginable.”
Several graduating seniors and graduate students received the university’s highest honors, including:
Obioma Ugorji has been selected as Class of 2023 Valedictorian and will speak at the 111th Undergraduate Commencement exercises on Saturday, May 6. The Valedictorian achieves a minimum 3.7 grade point average after at least 60 graded semester hours in residence at the university and is selected on the basis of a speech presented to the Valedictorian Selection Committee, composed of faculty, administrators, and a student representative.
Layla Rainosek ’23 received the University Scholar of the Year award for achieving the best overall academic record of the graduating class in addition to receiving the BCLA Program Scholar for Psychology award.
The Ignatian and Marian awards were given to graduating seniors who have excelled academically and who have distinguished themself in leadership and service to the student body, the university, and communities beyond our campus. Tomi Kufel received the Ignatian Award and a Presidential Citation. Kufel is described as a well-rounded man who sees himself as a global citizen driven to make the world a more just, compassionate, and cooperative space for all. In all he does, he strives to bring people together. Claribel Alcantar received the Marian Award and a Presidential Citation, and is described as a highly skilled and thoughtful thinker who can critically evaluate problems and find solutions while being empathetic and caring for others. Her growth in confidence over her four years at LMU has made her the thoughtful leader she is today.
The Robert Graham, S.J. Alumni Award, the most prestigious service and leadership award, was named for Father Graham who was the director of LMU alumni relations for nearly 20 years. Conferred by the Alumni Association, the award is presented annually to two outstanding seniors who, during their tenure at the university, have excelled in areas of service and leadership. Christina Noravian received a Graham Alumni Award for having a “heart on fire for others” serving in the role of President of Emergency Medical Services, the student-run volunteer EMS team. She is a tour guide, the finance chair of Belles, and a volunteer at Good Shepherd Shelter. Gabi Jeakle also received a Graham Alumni Award for translating her passion for social justice into action to create meaningful impact during her time at LMU. She is particularly passionate about the intersection of Jesuit education and social justice and helping others understand how the Jesuit ideals can and should inform work in service, social justice, and advocacy.
Four undergraduate and graduate students received the Arrupe Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Award, which honors those who have shown a record of explicit work with diversity, equity, and inclusion issues. Selected by the university Intercultural Council, the award is named in honor of Jesuit Superior General Father Pedro Arrupe, S.J., who worked tirelessly for the promotion of justice in the service of faith. This award is presented to students who demonstrate both robust academic achievement and outstanding DEI academic contributions:
Alaysia Barker-Vaughn ’23. Alaysia has been a leader in #BlackatLMU, The Learning Community, The Office of Black Student Services, and The Guardian Scholars Program. She has been a trailblazer in cultivating community, challenging administration, and advocating for students of color;
Jordan Fray ’23. Jordan has served as a social justice staff writer for The Loyolan, the director of philanthropy for Women in Politics, and the vice president of cultural affairs and justice in ASLMU. Fray also received The Erlandson Award from the LMU Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts and departmental/program scholar awards for individualized studies, liberal arts, and political science.
Cole Cook. Cole is an M.F.A. student in performance pedagogy and an instructor of teaching methods, including as a teaching assistant for a course on queer theatre at LMU. Their research on theater performance models is rooted in Afrocentricity and the positionality of the acting teacher, described by the committee as noble examples of how to build inclusivity in the arts.
Mark Peter Lopez. Mark is a doctoral student in the educational leadership for social justice program who has carefully studied and persisted in his work to transform Catholic Church teaching and policy toward diversity, equity, and inclusion. His ministry experience in Southeast Asia led to his dissertation on improving rural schooling in Cambodia.
Ayana O’Brien’23 received the James Loughran Award for her impact through community service, as an orientation leader, tour guide, research assistant, and president of Belles service organization. Ayana is described as a natural leader in the area she is most passionate about: making sure other people feel heard and seen.
Nona Pittman ’23 received the Donald Merrifield, S.J. Award for her contributions to interculturalism on campus and beyond. Pittman has dedicated much of her time at LMU immersing herself in cross-cultural service work including serving with the Ignatian Service Organization and as an Ignacio Companions leader. Her work and impact have reached communities far and wide, but her advocacy on behalf of LMU’s Facilities Management workers and the push to get them fairer wages will be remembered and appreciated for many years to come.
Maya Kalach ’23 received the Magis Award, an award that is reserved for unique contributions to our community and often propelled by singular passion and grit. With every stride as a track and field athlete, Kalach has displayed unwavering determination and boundless passion for athletics at LMU. A passion they used to launch a new program with the goal of invigorating school spirit by getting students to support student athletes at their games and competitions.
Other awards presented include the Program Scholars, College and School Scholars, Presidential Citations, the Raymunde McKay R.S.H.M. awards, the Alfred Kilp, S.J. awards, Renee L. Harrangue, Ph.D. awards, Peg Dolan, R.S.H.M. awards, Student Life awards, Student EXP and Graduate Student EXP Awards. The full list of recipients can be viewed here.