Another school year comes to a close, but this was anything but “just another year.” Adjusting to virtual learning, ever-shifting class schedules, isolation, sickness and family crises, racial and civil unrest, anxiety, depression, and missing out on formative experiences—this is just a short list of the unprecedented challenges students faced as a result of the global pandemic.
With so much to deal with, who could blame a student for withdrawing and focusing on only what is absolutely necessary? Instead, in a time of global crisis, SCAN Student Ambassadors stepped up in big ways to fight for the well-being of kids around the world. This is a testament to the strength of character in this generation of young leaders. They stand as a beacon of hope lighting the way to a bright future.
In special recognition of the passion and hard work displayed by this class of Student Ambassadors, we are thrilled to announce the recipients of the 2021 Student Ambassador Awards! This group of stand-out Student Ambassadors and SCAN clubs went above and beyond in their efforts to mobilize their communities and advocate for kids.
Individual Award Winners
Perseverance Award: Adrianna Sierra
College of Charleston, South Carolina
All Student Ambassadors persevered through many challenges this year, but Adrianna stands out in particular for her stellar positive attitude. She was the only Student Ambassador on campus for most of the year, working hard to recruit new members. Many students would be bummed out by the slow progress, but Adrianna remained an absolute joy to work with. By the end of the year she met all her goals, recruited a new team member, and is finishing the process of officially registering a SCAN club at her school!
Leadership Award: Leland Pan
Metea Valley High School, Illinois
Leland is a truly remarkable young leader, and the outgoing president of one our strongest SCAN clubs. The Metea Valley club boasts a professional organizing structure with three committees, and I was impressed all semester by how they delegated responsibilities and tapped into the various skills and interests of their team. Leland is leaving a strong legacy behind at Metea Valley with the club firmly in the hands of a promising new leadership team.
Rapid Response Award: Lavannya Deolalikar
Metea Valley High School, Illinois
Lavannya is the second award winner from Metea Valley, and the outgoing chair of their Congressional Outreach/LTE Committee. Along with Leland, she deserves credit for much of the club’s success. Lavannya proved this year she was up for any kind of action— from leading our lobby meeting with the Office of Senator Duckworth, to writing multiple letters-to-the-editor, to writing heartfelt poetry and more! We could always count on Lavannya to deliver results!
Most Improved Leader: Lauren Edwards
Iowa State University, Iowa
Since joining the Student Ambassador program, we witnessed Lauren’s confidence and organizing skills skyrocket. In just one year, she took charge of the ISU SCAN club, spearheaded a cross-campus event with Drake University, texted over one thousand voters before the election, and led a new volunteer Zoom event on her own! If asked back in August, I don’t think she ever would have predicted such success!
Student Ambassador Rookie of the Year: Daniel Cieraszynski
University of Denver, Colorado
Daniel became a Student Ambassador in October and hit the ground running with a “can do” attitude. Daniel contributed to a major victory in Colorado, Proposition EE, which creates funding for universal preschool! For other campaigns, he wrote LTE’s, collected postcards to Congress from classmates, had meetings with multiple lawmakers, moderated a Q&A with state lawmakers, and submitted testimony to the Colorado General Assembly to protect preschool funding. The list goes on! Did we mention he’s only a freshman?
Club Award Winners
Outstanding Achievement in Recruitment: Hume Fogg High School, TN
Recruitment and succession planning are pillars of a successful SCAN club, and the Hume-Fogg club embraced the concepts flawlessly. This year, the club needed to replace all four Senior Student Ambassadors who would be graduating. Unprompted, the club enacted a plan to collect applications for new officers. After acceptance, the incoming officers shadowed the current officers through the spring semester to learn their roles and prepare to take over. Now leadership has fully transitioned to the new team, and they haven’t missed a beat!
Outstanding Achievement in Social Media: University of New Hampshire, NH
Anytime a Student Ambassador asked me for advice on running their social media accounts, I would direct them to the UNH SCAN Instagram. This account is a shining example of high-quality digital engagement. UNH kept their feed lively and engaging with great photos, info on campaigns and events, and a superb spotlight series highlighting the contributions of many club members! Shout-out to the club’s Social Media Coordinator Lauryn Murray for her great work!
Outstanding Achievement in Event Organizing: New Mexico State University, NM
Formed during the pandemic, the NMSU club quickly got to work planning an innovative event series including outdoor socially-distanced events and regular virtual events. Some highlights were an advocacy 101 training, GOTV postcard writing, and a screening/discussion of Paper Children in addition to general interest meetings. The NMSU team stands out for their hands-on approach—managing promotion, registration, day-of coordination, and follow-up with little guidance from staff.
Outstanding Achievement in Community Partnership: Blythewood High School, SC
Student Ambassadors are encouraged to partner with local organizations to find creative ways to support overlapping goals and become a trusted resource in their community. The Blythewood High School SCAN club epitomized this idea with a community-service project in partnership with Her Drive and the Blythewood Girl Up club. Under the leadership of Jorden Jeffers, the club rallied local business owners, family and friends to donate over $800 and more than 2700 feminine care products, toiletries, bras and other personal items, all of which benefitted a local homeless shelter!
The following Student Ambassadors are also recognized for overall exemplary performance through the 2020-21 academic year. Each student was nominated for one or more award categories.
- Grace Robinson – Drake University, IA
- Jaya Valji – Redmond High School, WA
- Mihir Sardesai & Maud McCole – Dartmouth College, NH
- Shannon McEveney – University of New Hampshire, NH
- Nolan Sun – Andover Phillips Academy, MA
- Riya Menon & Madison Sejas-Siles – Fairfax High School, VA