Division of Student Affairs recognizes outstanding student leaders

Author: Kate Morgan

The University of Notre Dame’s Division of Student Affairs recognized seven students at the 35th annual Student Leadership Awards Banquet. These annual awards honor current students who have made exceptional contributions to the Notre Dame community.

The Rev. A. Leonard Collins, C.S.C., Award, honoring a graduating senior who has made substantial personal efforts to advance the interests of students at Notre Dame, was given to Rachel Ingal of Loveland, Ohio.

A political science major with a minor in business economics and international development, Ingal served as student body president this year, and previously as the director of the First Undergraduate Experience in Leadership program and as vice president of Badin Hall. She is a Kellogg International Scholar and a member of Halftime A Cappella.

The Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C., Award annually honors a graduating senior whose leadership has significantly advanced the climate of welcome and inclusion within or beyond the University community. This year’s recipient is Odalis Gonzalez Reyes from American Falls, Idaho.

A psychology and Latino studies major with a minor in education, schooling and society, Gonzalez served the Gender Relations Center as a program assistant for FIRE Starter, was the president of the Student Coalition for Immigration Advocacy and served on the leadership board of Show Some Skin. She was also a senior cohort leader for the AnBryce Scholars Initiative, led retreats for LatinX first-year students within the Office of Campus Ministry and dedicated time to tutoring and mentoring high school students in her time at Notre Dame.

The John W. Gardner Student Leadership Award, given to a graduating senior who exemplifies the ideals of the University through outstanding community service beyond the University community, was awarded to Molly Link from Brush, Colorado.

A theology major with a minor in Catholic social tradition, Link has used her dedication to the Catholic faith to serve her fellow students and the local community in her time at Notre Dame. On campus, Link founded the BeLoved Women’s Discernment Community and serves as both a Resident Assistant in Lewis Hall and as a Campus Ministry Anchor Intern. Link is also an active leader in the Center for Social Concerns. She regularly serves the South Bend community as a catechist in a local parish and a volunteer with the Center for the Homeless.

The Blessed Basil Moreau, C.S.C., Leadership Award was awarded to Aaron Benavides from Corpus Christi, Texas. This award is given to a graduating senior who embodies Blessed Father Moreau’s vision of educating the heart and has demonstrated significant effort in advancing the Catholic character of the University.

Benavides, a political science major with minors in digital marketing, journalism and theology, served as the Student Government chief of staff his senior year, and in multiple student government positions prior, including the director of the Department of Faith and Service. He was appointed by University President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., as the student representative with the Campus Engagement Task Force on clergy abuse, and served as a Basilica sacristan and Mass chair for the 2020 Junior Parents Weekend.

Conal Fagan from Derry, Northern Ireland, was awarded the Ray Siegfried Award for Leadership Excellence, given to a graduating senior who exemplifies the qualities for which former Notre Dame Trustee Ray Siegfried was known, including leadership, generosity, devotion to the Catholic faith and affinity for athletics. 

A political science and peace studies major, Fagan served as the first Irish-born Notre Dame Leprechaun, a varsity cheerleader and a sports broadcaster for Fighting Irish Media. He has been an active leader within the Center for Social Concerns, served as a co-chair for the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies conference and dedicated his time beyond Notre Dame to coaching and mentoring students with disabilities. 

Sarah Galbenski from Grosse Pointe Shores, Michigan, was awarded the Mike Russo Spirit Award, honoring an outstanding undergraduate student who exemplifies the qualities for which Russo was known, including service, personal character and striving to bring the best out of themselves and others.

An honors Spanish and global affairs major with a concentration in international peace studies, Galbenski served as student body vice president her senior year and in multiple leadership roles within her Walsh Hall community. She served the local South Bend community as well as communities abroad in Ecuador and Chile as a Spanish interpreter, bilingual tutor and English language instructor. Galbenski is a Kellogg International Scholar and member of the Notre Dame Folk Choir.

The Denny Moore Award for Excellence in Journalism was awarded to Dessi Gomez, from San Clemente, California. This award is given to a graduating senior who exemplifies the qualities of Moore, a former Notre Dame associate vice president, who was known for his integrity, character, commitment to Notre Dame and writing ability.

An American studies major with minors in journalism, ethics, democracy and gender studies, Gomez served as a writer and editor with The Observer newspaper and Scholastic magazine, contributing to coverage of breaking news while also reporting on arts, culture and entertainment in the Notre Dame community. As a student journalist, Gomez traveled to Puerto Rico in 2019 to report on the island’s recovery following Hurricane Maria. She has also held two professional journalism internships, including one at the Los Angeles Times.

Originally published by Kate Morgan at news.nd.edu on April 29, 2021.