SOAR Awards honor Aalekhya Reddam, Hurricane Productions

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Juniors Quang Nguyen and Daniela Perez accept the People's Choice Award on behalf of their respective organizations, the Chinese Students Scholars Association and the Association of Commuter Students, at the SOAR Awards Wednesday evening in the Shalala Student Center. Hunter Crenian // Contributing Photographer

Juniors Quang Nguyen and Daniela Perez accept the People’s Choice Award on behalf of their respective organizations, the Chinese Students Scholars Association and the Association of Commuter Students, at the SOAR Awards Wednesday evening in the Shalala Student Center. Hunter Crenian // Contributing Photographer

International Week Chair and Student Government Executive at Large-Internal Aalekhya Reddam was rewarded for her work on campus at the Student Organization Award Recognition (SOAR) Awards Wednesday night, as she was named student leader of the year.

Members of Student Government (SG) and Council of International Students and Organizations (COISO), both of which Reddam is a member, erupted in cheers when her name was called. Many of them chanted, “Be Aali,” a phrase based off half of her first name. Avisha Gopalakrishna, the COISO vice president who started the chant on social media, mentioned that the chant started as a joke but became something much more because of Reddam’s presence on campus.

Reddam faced stiff competition from 11 other nominated student leaders yet, according to the emcees, she went above and beyond in her leadership this year.

“She is such an amazing person that everyone looks up to. She always becomes someone’s mentor and is just an inspiring person that fully deserves this award,” Gopalakrishna said.

Reddam oversaw the recent International Week that showcased different regions around the world for five days. She was also the chair for Homecoming’s Hurricane Howl and is a member of numerous honor councils, including Iron Arrow. She’s also a member of the President’s 100, a residential assistant and Student Government executive at large-internal.

“I feel very honored and it’s weird and unnatural to be selected out of all these great candidates,” Reddam said. “I’m still processing this information but I am very happy that people feel I am worthy.”

Hurricane Productions was awarded the student organization of the year for hosting more than 230 events, including the fall 2015 Homecoming concert that featured performances by T-Pain and Waka Flocka Flame at the BankUnited Center.

“It feels amazing, it shows all our hard work paying off, we have over 50 people putting in tons of hours every week to put on so many shows,” said Alyssa Rosenfeld, vice chair of Hurricane Productions.

Organized by the Committee on Students Organizations (COSO), which oversees every student organization at UM, the SOAR Awards recognize the achievements of student organizations throughout the year. David Lin, the treasurer of COSO, called them the “Oscars” for student organizations.

“All the student organizations have worked extremely hard throughout the past year, and these awards are meant to honor and celebrate their achievements of what they have brought to campus,” Lin said.

Winners were selected by a committee of students, advisors and staff who were heavily involved in student life. Each organization had to nominate themselves in one of the categories that they felt they excelled in.

The 15 categories included excellence in programming for performance or academics, advisor of the year, student leader of the year and unsung hero.

List of winners

Excellence in Programming: Academic/Honor – Biomedical Engineering Society

Excellence in Programming: Awareness/Social Action – National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE)

Excellence in Programming: Performance – House of Black Culture by United Black Students (UBS)

FCS Organization of the Year – UM Sailing team

Excellence in Programming: Best Week Ever – Federación de Estudiantes Cubanos (FEC)

Excellence in Programming: Media/Arts – Distraction Magazine

Excellence in Programming: Cultural – Lunar New Year Festival by Asian American Students Association (AASA)

Excellence in Programming: Community Service – Art for Kids

Program of the Year – DragOut by SpectrUM

Co-Sponsored Program of the Year – International Week 2015 by Council of International Students and Organizations (COISO)

Advisor of the Year – Connie Nickel

People’s Choice Awards – Chinese Student and Scholars Association and Association of Commuter Students

Unsung Hero – Mikaela Michalowitz

New Organization of the Year – Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC)

Student Leader of the Year – Aalekhya Reddam

Organization of the Year – Hurricane Productions

 

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