The unsung hero award at the annual Student Organization Award Recognition (SOAR) ceremony recognizes a student who consistently goes above and beyond for his or her organization without recognition. The award itself was renamed to commemorate a student who embodied that, David Lin.
Lin, who died of leukemia in January, was considered the unsung hero of the Committee on Student Organizations (COSO), who host the SOAR awards. Lin was involved in tirelessly helping the organization without needing any acknowledgement and would have been the vice-chair of the committee this year.
COSO Chair Antonella Valdivia said David Lin was one of her closest friends and knew she had to do something to memorialize his contributions to COSO.
“He had the qualities of an unsung hero and he wasn’t recognized before he passed away, so I just really wanted to do something that would allow him to be recognized forever,” she said.
The 2017 David Lin Unsung Hero Award went to senior Lauren Rodriguez, who is heavily involved in Student Government (SG), Greek Life and Homecoming Executive Committee (HEC). She was also crowned 2017 Greek Goddess.
Rodriguez said she was “shocked” to receive the award and was honored that the award was named after Lin, with whom she was close. She said that, in the beginning, she could never tell him apart from his twin brother, Rick Lin.
“I got very emotional; it was special especially since this award was dedicated to him,” Rodriguez said. “He was always funny and light-hearted, so it’s a quality we share. I’m just happy to be recognized for something.”
Rick Lin knew that the award would be named after his brother and approved of the decision when Valdivia approached him about it.
“David was really involved, he did so much for COSO,” Rick Lin said. “It’s nice that they named it after him.”
The SOAR awards, which recognize the best COSO-registered organizations, students and advisers in various categories, awarded a total of 23 awards on April 18.
“SOAR is one big thank you to everyone for doing what they do; student organizations are the life of the campus and they are so important,” Valdivia said. “It’s only fitting that we have an award ceremony that is really glamorous to recognize them. And, unlike the Oscars, there was no mix-up, we would always double check.”
It was a special night for COISO president Rick Lin. The international organization took home three awards: organization of the year, program of the year and advisor of the year.
“We were shaking,” Lin said. “COISO hasn’t won anything in so long, and it’s great to see all the hard work pay off.”
The student of the year award went to senior Nicole Katz. She was nominated last year and wasn’t sure if she would receive it this year.
“It was very unexpected, all the other nominees were unbelievable,” Katz said. “It feels great to be acknowledged for everything I did the last four years, and I couldn’t have done it without the people I worked with.”
Katz is heavily involved on campus. She is in Iron Arrow, Federación de Estudiantes Cubanos (FEC), SG, Chi Omega sorority, president of Rho Lambda honor society and a tour guide in the President’s 100. Katz credits her love for the university as her motivation to be so involved on campus.
“If I am not in a meeting until 10 at night, it is not a normal day,” Katz said.
Sustainable Program of the Year – “Rescue a Reef” : Scuba Club
Excellence in Programming: Community Outreach – Engineers Without Borders: “Dominican Republic and Ecuador International Projects”
Excellence in Programming: Cultural – Indian Students Association: “Diwali Show”
Excellence in Programming: Religion and Spirituality –Hammond-Butler Inspirational Concert Choir: “Monthly As We Worship Services and Carry the Love Tour”
Excellence in Programming: Performance – Chinese Students and Scholars Association: “6th Lunar New Year Celebration”
Excellence in Programming: Academic, Honorary & Professional – Biomedical Engineering Society: “Industry Night”
Excellence in Programming: Awareness/Social Action – National Organization for Women: “International Women’s Day(s)”
Excellence in Programming: Best Week Ever! – Homecoming Executive Committee: “Homecoming 2016 ‘Make Your Move’”
Excellence in Programming: Media & The Arts – Art for Kids: “A Variety of Volunteering, Fundraising, and Artistic Events”
Excellence in Programming: Special Interest – Cinematic Arts Commission: “Oscars Week”
Collaborative Program of the Year – Federación de Estudiantes Cubanos, Salta Craze: “Week of Cuban Culture: Salsa and Chips”
Program of the Year – Council of International Students and Organizations: “International Week 2016: The Local Experience”
Rising Member of the Year – Agustin Granda: La Federación de Estudiantes Cubanos
First Year Leadership Award – Jasmine Shah: Delta Sigma Pi
Senior Legacy Award – Sophie Braga de Barros: TEDxUMiami & Hurricane Productions
Advisor of the Year Award – Kristin Pongé: Council of International Students and Organizations
Student Leader of the Year Award – Nicole Katz
FCS Organization of the Year Award – Scuba Club
New Organization of the Year Award – Girl Up and Speak What You Feel
Rising Organization Award – African Students Union
Organization of the Year Award – Council of International Students and Organizations (COISO) Category 5
Spirit Award – Category 5
The David Lin Unsung Hero Award – Lauren Rodriquez