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Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

Congratulations and Remarks at Senior Awards Brunch

May, 2017

Senior Awards Brunch

Shirley Ann Jackson, Ph.D., President, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

I congratulate everyone honored here this morning. What a wonderful way to begin Senior Week!

Rensselaer truly is a special community, whose members give their all in many different ways. The Class of 2017 has recognized key Student Life staff, who inspire and support them—in particular, Jean Purtell of the Rensselaer Union; Sachi Ena Vines of our Athletics Department; and Sabra-Joi Dingman, Class Dean, with its Dedication and Devotion Award. I thank all three of them for their service to the Class of 2017, who are about to take the many lessons they learned at Rensselaer—including life lessons—and apply them in the world.
Our senior award recipients demonstrate many qualities that that make this a wonderful place to live, to work, to teach, and to study. While we have educated you for deep knowledge in your chosen fields, we also have worked to educate you for intellectual agility, multicultural sophistication, and a global view—for the kind of perspective that will allow you to lead. The Student CLASS Award honors Diego Carrasquillo for exemplifying such leadership.
While Diego has contributed to our community in myriad ways, it is his work as a member of the Residence Life staff that stands out. Rising from a Student Orientation member to Resident Assistant, he has served as Resident Director for the past two years. In addition, he has trained other Resident Directors—and helped many younger students feel at home at Rensselaer. His legacy will be felt long after Commencement.
We also honor the character, leadership, scholarship, and athletic ability demonstrated by Breanainn McNeally with the 2017 Livingston Houston Award. As a Men’s Lacrosse player, Breanainn was one of the very best in our history. As an Industrial and Management Engineering major, he also has been impressive. As a community member, he has been energetic and empathetic. And he has been generous in organizing community service projects through his Lacrosse team, and his fraternity, so that other Rensselaer students, too, could share in the joy of giving.
We honor Madeline Dery with the Leopold L. Balleisen Prize, intended for the best student, among our varsity student-athletes. Madeline not only captained the Women’s Cross Country and Track & Field teams to great success—and won numerous league and state events as a runner—she was just shy of a 4.0 average as a Chemical Engineering major. Well done, Madeline!
We honor with the Willie Stanton Award, Shannon Gillespie McComb, a Biomedical Engineering major whose leadership of the Rensselaer Union—whether she was serving as Vice President or working in the Clubhouse Pub—has emphasized one specific definition of the word “union”: the act of joining people together. I applaud her for her efforts, in particular, to help the Student Veterans Association find a place within the Rensselaer Union community.
The seniors we honor today have helped to make Rensselaer a stronger place. I congratulate them, and the entire Class of 2017, for your generosity and civic-mindedness. You have changed Rensselaer for the better, so we fully expect that you will change the world.