Nine Westfield State students named recipients of President’s Award for Excellence in Leadership

Dec 8, 2020

Westfield State University will recognize nine students for their academic excellence, leadership, and service to the community with the President’s Award for Excellence in Leadership. A pre-recorded award ceremony will be shared on the University’s website in the coming weeks. 

“The accomplished individuals we will recognize have distinguished themselves from their peers by demonstrating the qualities and attributes of achievement and leadership that transcend through even the most difficult of times,” said Westfield State University Interim President Roy H. Saigo, Ph.D.  

Created in 2007, the President’s Award for Excellence in Leadership recognizes the achievements of highly qualified students. Student recipients must have a grade point average (GPA) of 3.3 or higher and demonstrate an array of volunteer services performed in the local community and at Westfield State University. Along with an essay, students are required to complete an application listing their co-curricular activities, the leadership groups they belong to, and details of their volunteer participation. 

Nine outstanding students were selected among 33 applicants this year, and they have a combined GPA of 3.88. The 2020 awardees are: 

Erica Burton ’21, environmental science major, Merrimac, Mass.
Burton leads in positions such as treasurer of the Sustainability Club, co-director of the University’s a cappella group, Noctonal; and president of the Environmental Planning Club. She is dedicated to groups including the Circle K Club, the College of Mathematics and Science, Banacos Academic Center, the National Society of Leadership and Success, the Lifetime Owls Student Advisory Board, and Relay for Life. Burton has volunteered at the Westfield Soup Kitchen, Operation Christmas Child, Kiwanis, Earth Day clean-up, the Go Higher Event Student Panel, and the Open House Student Panel. She has also assisted with cleaning research areas on campus, and she was involved in the planting and restoration of the garden near the Horace Mann Center.  

Meaghan Davis ’21, English major, Bellingham, Mass.
Davis holds leadership roles on campus as co-president of the Sustainability Club, co-editor in chief of the University’s Persona Magazine, executive board member of Sigma Tau Delta International English Honor Society, and peer consultant in the Reading and Writing Center. She volunteered as a poetry slam host for local high school students, a planter in the pollinator garden on campus; raked leaves for Sigma Tau Delta; and served as a writing booth participant on National Writing Day, an assistant at New Student Orientation, and as an open house panelist representing the College of the Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences.  

Elizabeth Ferrara ’21, psychology and art major, Merrimac, Mass.
Ferrara shows her leadership skills as president of the University Hall Council, chair of the Food Services Committee, legislative secretary of the Student Government Association (SGA), chair of the Owl Ball and the Blue Key committees, member of the Counseling Center Student Advisory Board, vice president of the Psychology Club, a mentor in the Honors Program, and junior advisor to Lambda Sigma Sophomore Honor Society. She is also involved in Westfield State’s University Hall Council, the Psychology Club, Pieces Club, the Honors Program, the Kappa Pi Art Honor Society, and the Psi Chi Psychology Honor Society. Ferrara has volunteered at many of Westfield State’s events such as blood drives, the Turkey Drive, the Stuff-a-Cruiser Toys for Tots event, and Breakfast with Santa.  

Olivia Houde ’21, regional planning major, Fiskdale, Mass.
Houde takes the lead as co-director of the Dr. Henry Wefing Memorial Garden, historian of the Class Council, music director at WSKB radio station, and social media coordinator of the Sustainability Club. She is a member of the Circle K, the SGA, and the Environmental Planning Club. Houde has participated in the University’s Student Summer Research Fellows program and the Center for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity (CURCA), and holds a work-study position in the Geography, Planning, and Sustainability (GPS) Department. She has also volunteered at the Westfield Soup Kitchen.  

Idil Hussein ’21, biology and psychology major, West Springfield, Mass.
Hussein is president of the Muslim Student Organization, a representative member of the Interfaith Council, and a member of the Islamic Society of Western Massachusetts. Hussein belongs to the Black Student Union, Tri-Beta Biology Honor Society, and Psi Chi Psychology Honor Society. She volunteers at Westfield State’s Biology Department, the Banacos Academic Center, and learned much while assisting immigrants and refugees during a Spring Break immersion trip to El Paso, Texas. 

Mia McDonald ’22, economics and business management major, Westfield, Mass.
McDonald has served as class secretary, captain of the cross-country team, a representative of the Student Honors Advisory Council, and student representative of the Honors Advisory Committee. She is a member of the track team, the Student Athlete Advisory Committee, and Alpha Lambda Delta first-year honor society. McDonald works at Northside Creamery and the Amelia Park Children’s Museum, and has volunteered at the Holyoke Boys and Girls Club, Run Stanley, and as a student representative to prospective Honors Program students and families.  

Fiona O’Sullivan ’21, social work major, Ludlow, Mass.
O’Sullivan holds the leadership positions of vice president of Phi Alpha Honor Society for social work, treasurer of the Social Work Association, and she is a peer leader of The Perch social group. She is a member of the Lambda Sigma National Honor Society for second-year students, the Emerging Leaders Program, Lifetime Owls, the steering committee for the Poor People’s Campaign of Western Mass., and a Catechism teacher at Saint Elizabeth’s Parish. O’Sullivan has volunteered at Beacon Hospice, Common Goods Food Pantry, Arise for Social Justice, the Drama Studio, and St. Elizabeth’s Parish Take & Eat Program.  

Maninder Singh ’22, environmental science and regional planning major, Northampton, Mass. 
Singh leads as a peer counselor and an ambassador for the University’s Center for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity. He is involved in Westfield State’s Urban Education Program, the Honors Program, Alpha Lambda Delta Honors Society, Environmental Planning Club, Banacos Academic Center, and the EMS Club. He has participated in the Environmental Justice Symposium, the Northeast Regional Honor Council, and the National Conference on Undergraduate Research. In addition, Singh has volunteered at the City of Westfield’s Pumpkin Festival, the Gurudwara Dukh Nivaran Sahib Sikh Temple, NMH Upward Bound, and on a research project in Costa Rica. 

Gabrielle Trudeau ’21, computer science and mathematics major, West Springfield, Mass.
Trudeau serves as a student representative for the Honors Program and is a team leader for Relay for Life. She has been involved in many groups such as the Math Club, the College of Mathematics & Sciences, the Honors Program, and the women’s lacrosse team. Trudeau also tutors math, acts as one of Westfield State’s campus tour guides and works at Wings Over Westfield. She volunteers as an assistant coach for a youth lacrosse team and is on the student panel working with student recruitment. Trudeau has also donated her time to support Massachusetts STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Week events.