Big Scholarships Up for Grabs in Student Life Awards

Glass awards lined up to be handed out at last year's Student Life Award ceremony.
Glass awards lined up to be handed out at last year's Student Life Award ceremony.

The deadline for Drexel’s “best-kept secret” is less than a month away.

Nominations for the Student Life Awards, a program run by Drexel Student Affairs and the Undergraduate Student Government Association, are due March 1. Along with those nominations — which students, faculty and staff can make through a link here — comes the possibility of significant scholarships and recognition.

“It’s probably the best-kept secret about Drexel because not a lot of people apply for them and there’s a lot of money,” said Claudia Gutierrez, one of last year’s Alexander Van Rensselaer Service Award winners.

This year, more than $80,000 in potential scholarships is up for grabs.

Gutierrez, now a senior biomedical engineering student, won a $10,000 scholarship that goes along with the Van Rensselaer Award. For a student who will be starting medical school in the fall, that certainly helps.

“That’s a huge dent in tuition,” Gutierrez said.

The Student Life Awards recognize students and student organizations that seek to help others and expand the scope of the Drexel experience. Ten of the 21 Student Life Awards come with a scholarship component.

Drexel Dean of Students David Ruth, right, and Campus Rabbi for Hillel Isabel de Koninck, left, giving Julie Kimelman the Douglas Spears Memorial Award in 2014.

“It’s a nice way to recognize students for doing things,” said John Cooke, associate dean of students for campus engagement. “There are alumni who’ve left money specifically toward students and their success in and out of the classroom. These are basically endowments from alumni who want students to do the best they can do.”

Gutierrez earned her award during her junior year when she was volunteering at a local clinic, Puentes de Salud, and also the president of Drexel’s chapter of the Society of Women Engineers.

She’d asked some professors and friends to nominate her for the award, which students are allowed to do. They’re also allowed to nominate themselves.

Knowing to ask people to nominate her came from Gutierrez’s previous contact with the Student Life Awards when she received the Rising Leader of the Year Award.

That award recognized Gutierrez’s role in revitalizing Drexel’s salsa club. Dancing was something she’d done since she was 15 years old — it was a part of her culture, as her parents immigrated to the United States from Costa Rica.

“I tried to bring back this cultural aspect to Drexel,” Gutierrez said, who added that friends from the class said it “transformed their social lives” for the better.

Two new awards have been made available this year — the Chuck Vincent Service Leader Award, for students who work to help Drexel’s veteran community, and the MarcDavid LGBT Scholarship, which recognize students’ efforts to make Drexel more LGBTQ-friendly.

Several awards honoring student organizations are also handed out, including Student Organization of the Year, won last year by Active Minds, a peer-to-peer mental health advocacy group.

Student Life Award winners are honored in a ceremony held in the spring. Gutierrez said it shows how supportive people around the University can be.

“The awards are really motivating and they make a big deal for a lot of students,” Gutierrez said. “I have one friend who is paying out-of-pocket for school yet she spends most of her free time volunteering and going back to the community instead of working. People like that are the people for whom this will make a big difference.”