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Seton Hall University

13th Annual Servant Leader Awards Honors Students for Service around the World  

Servant LeaderSix students were honored for their exceptional service and dedication as servant leaders in areas throughout the world, including Jamaica, Haiti, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, New York and local New Jersey communities at the
13th Annual Servant Leader Awards on April 11, 2017. Typically, three students are awarded each year; however, this year's finalists were so strong that all six were chosen to be honored. The Servant Leader Award recipients were Tony Varughese, Leo Ricketts, Jaquelin Rivas-Tejada, Thomas Barry, Joel Menendez and Alexandra Recupero.

"The Servant Leader Awards celebrate the students at Seton Hall who embrace our mission and use their time here not only to serve those in need, but to inspire others to do the same," noted Michelle Peterson, director of the
Division of Volunteer Efforts (DOVE) and Servant Leader Awards Committee co-chair.

Members of the Servant Leaders Awards Committee, which comprised of faculty and administrators from throughout the University community, reviewed dozens of nominations before inviting a select number of students to participate in an interview process and eventually recognizing these inspiring individuals.

"This year's class of honorees are truly Seton Hall in miniature," said Daniel Nugent, assistant vice president of Advancement Services and Servant Leader Awards Committee co-chair. "They represent a diverse range of types of service, many different programs and majors, and a variety of backgrounds that truly represent the type of community we at Seton Hall strive to be."

The evening included a dinner, remarks from University leaders Interim President Mary Meehan as well as Servant Leader Awards Committee Co-Chairs Peterson and Nugent and a video of each award recipient highlighting their accomplishments as servant leaders.

2017 Servant Leader Awards Recipients

Servant Leader

From Left to Right: Leo Ricketts, Tony Varughese, Rev. Thomas Barry, Joel Menendez, Alexandra Recupero, Jaqueline Rivas-Tejada

Thomas Barry,
Immaculate Conception Seminary School of Theology, was honored for his lifelong commitment to servant leadership. Inspired by his family, Barry has volunteered at St. John's soup kitchen, connecting with inmates through the Essex County Jail prison ministry program and organizing clothing drives and the writing of prayer cards for the homeless. Barry has also been instrumental in reviving the Knights of Columbus on campus. To find out more about Barry's commitment to service, view his award video here.

Joel Menendez,
School of Health and Medical Sciences, was recognized for his devotion to service. Menendez completed nearly 200 hours of community service in the prior year, volunteering at local food banks and shelters. He participates in the St. Francis Breadline every Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve morning in New York City, distributing food and clothing to those less fortunate, embodying his dedication to servant leadership. To learn more about Menendez's dedication to service, view his award video here.

Alexandra Recupero,
School of Diplomacy and International Relations, was acknowledged for her commitment to service, both domestic and international. She has volunteered and raised funds for a number of charities and causes, including Habitat for Humanity and the Wounded Warrior Project. Recupero has shown her dedication to servant leadership by performing more than 250 hours of community service during the 2015 - 2016 academic year. Recupero is a Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Honors Scholar, serving as director of Community Service and Engagement during the 2016 - 2017 academic year. It was through this organization that she was nominated for, and received, the Gold Presidential Volunteer Service Award for her mission work with DOVE in El Salvador. To hear more about Recupero's service work, view her award video here.

Leo Ricketts,
College of Education and Human Services, was acknowledged for his commitment to servant leadership in the areas of social justice, education and sustainability in disadvantaged communities. He has served as Chair of Operation X Youth Mentoring Program, through the Martin Luther King Scholarship Association, which provides weekly outreach to small groups of minority male students on leadership and character. Ricketts' dedication to service led him to receive the IMPACT scholarship from Semester at Sea, where he facilitated service projects in 12 countries.

Jaquelin Rivas-Tejada,
College of Nursing, was recognized for her efforts to give back to her community. Rivas-Tejada's leadership is highlighted by a weekly soccer program, which she founded, for local youth at the Don Bosco Youth Center in Orange, NJ that has blossomed to include over 140 participants each week. Rivas-Tejada hopes to expand her role in the lives of students by organizing college tours and assisting in writing college application essays. Her passion for helping those less fortunate is evident in her participation in domestic and international service trips, including Nicaragua and El Salvador. To hear more about Rivas-Tejada's service work, view her award video here.

Tony Varughese,
College of Arts and Sciences, was honored for his service to others through volunteering as an EMT, serving as an assistant in a local physician's office and joining a medical mission trip to Honduras. Inspired by his uncle Thomas Varughese, who passed away from pancreatic cancer, Varughese ran across the country to raise funds for young adults with cancer. From San Francisco to Brooklyn, Varughese and his team covered 4,500 miles and raised over $800,000. To find out more about Varughese's commitment to service, view his award video here.

For more information about the Servant Leader Awards and DOVE, please contact Michelle Peterson at (973) 761-9702 or or visit the website here.

Categories: Faith and Service

Flickr 2017 Servant Leader Awards

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View the Full Set on Flickr »

For more information, please contact:

  • Michelle Peterson
  • (973) 761-9702
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