Final SA/MBA Awards Recognize Outstanding Contributors

In the final and largest SA/MBA Awards ceremony of the year, six students were recognized for their making outstanding contributions to the HBS community. From bold initiatives to behind-the-scenes efforts, these six were active in a variety of different organizations and groups, yet all share a commitment to going above and beyond the call of duty.

The SA/MBA awards were created as a joint effort by the SA and the MBA administration and the award is unique in many ways. For one, nominations can come from any member of the HBS Community: faculty, staff, students, and partners. Second, all MBA students are eliglible – both RCs and ECs. Lastly, nominations are accepted on a rolling basis and awards are made throughout the year as achievements surface – there are not a set number of awards given out on specific dates. Once a student has been nominated, an Awards Committee (comprised of both students and staff) carefully considers the following: Leadership, Initiative, Selfless-Service, Contribution to the Community, and Building Community Connectivity.

Last Thursday, April 28th, the following six students were recognized for their diverse, yet extraordinary contributions:

Avi Kremer (NI)
Avi was nominated by three students – his section president Nate Boaz (NI), Gy Yamen (NH), and Adi Padva (OI). Avi who was diagnosed with ALS this past fall, decided to stay at HBS while fighting the disease, despite being thousands of miles away from his family in Israel. He opened up about his condition to his section and eventually to the entire HBS community.

His courage has inspired the entire community – and under his leadership, NI has already collected over $8,500 for ALS research and increased awareness by the disease, which currently has no cure. Additionally, Avi convinced many of the RC sections to earmark a portion of their charity auction proceeds for this year for ALS research, and he organized an online charity auction (including many spectacular donations from the greater Boston and HBS communities). Through these and other efforts, Avi hopes to reach his goal of raising $100,000 for ALS research this year.
In an emotional award presentation, Nate Boaz (NI) thanked Avi for “the thousand things that you have done to inspire us. You’ve shown us humility and courage. Most of all, you’ve shown us that we don’t have to wait until we leave here to make a difference in the world – we can and are doing it already.”

To a standing ovation from the audience, Avi graciously accepted the award, and offered humble thanks to his sectionmates. “In a way, I felt I had no choice in this, ” he said. “You had a choice – to help me and to try to find a cure – you are more deserving of this than myself.”

Nushin Kormi (OI)
Nominated by Titi Odunfa (OI), Nushin was recognized for her tremendous efforts as section president. From effectively leading the section executive team, to the hosting BBQs and Thanksgiving dinners, to creating a DVD yearbook for the section, Nushin demonstrated exceptional versatility and dedication in her leadership skills.

In addition to her section president role, Nushin is quite active with several other clubs on campus. She took the initiative to organize one of the Middle East and North Africa Club’s largest and most well attended events this year. She has also served as a volunteer for the Africa Business Conference, a fashion show volunteer for AASU/ABC/CBC’s Sankofa Black History event, and an international day table coordinator for Iran (which won for best cultural show) at the International Student Night. At the award presentation, former SA CFO Ivan Moller (OI) noted, “for our section, she’s been a tremendous inspiration, as she’s exhibited extremely self-less leadership.”

Helen Johnson (OD) and Tamara Nall (OB)
Co-VPs of Admissions for the African American Student Union (AASU), Helen and Tamara were particularly innovative in their efforts to reach out to prospective and admitted African American students. From piloting a “local Boston colleges African American Prospective Students Day” that attracted over 80 minority college students to leading an AASU phone-a-thon to contact both prospective and admitted African American students, Helen and Tamara showed extraordinary energy and commitment to their cause.

In presenting the awards, nominator Juan Jimenez of MBA Admissions said, “not only did they lead the execution of annual, planned events, but more importantly, they found innovative and creative ways of expanding HBS’ reach and creating an impact within the community:” Juan also noted that their efforts are reflected in a very strong yield among African American Class of 2007 admits.

Tamara and Helen accepted their awards with palpable enthusiasm – making it easy to see how they could both easily make students feel welcome at and excited about HBS. As Helen remarked, ” It was an easy choice between reading those last few pages of a case of calling on prospective students…we’ve loved every minute of this job!”

Jim Whitehead (OA)
Nominated by Juan Jimenez of the MBA Admissions Office, Jim Whitehead was recognized for his dedicated service to the HBS Admissions process. He served as an Admissions Ambassador this year and he helped develop, mobilize and lead the Early Career Student Task Force. This task force of approximately 20 student volunteers was the first student group to help Admissions with their outreach efforts to Early Career applicants and admits. Jim solicited and managed volunteers for a number of events including an Admitted Student’s Weekend dinner for Early Career admits, an Early Career admit contact program, and an Early Career Open House, among others.

In presenting the award, Juan mentioned how “Jim’s involvement has helped the Admissions Office take our Early Career outreach initiative to a new level.” Juan also noted how in addition to all of the leadership and administration efforts, Jim also took a hands on role where “he personally called all deferred admits.” In his same personal style, Jim thanked all of those who he worked with on his team, as well as his sectionmates for their support.

Jenny Abramson (OD)
In introducing Jenny, former SA Co-President Les Williams (OC) remarked on how it was the “longest applications that the SA had ever received.” Nominator Nushin Kormi (OI) certainly had a lot of material to cover, and while presenting the award, she commented, “Jenny is one of the most amazing people that I have made, at HBS and in my life.”

First and foremost, as the Co-President of the HBS Democrats, Jenny increased membership more than six-fold – from 30 to over 200 – and at the same time started HBS Dems alumni chapters in eight cities. On campus, Jenny worked with HBS Republicans to organize a series of debates to educate students on policies and election issues. Moreover, during her term, Jenny was instrumental in bringin a number of prominent speakers to campus, from Joe Lockhart (Clinton’s Press Secretary) to Steve Jarding (who debriefed results after the election) to Chris Heinz to Warren Buffet (an event attended by more than 900.

In addition to these responsibilities, Jenny served as her section Ed Rep and the Co-President of the Business of Sports Club. Last but certainly not least, Jenny represented both HBS and HLS on the Committee on Shareholder Responsibility. Each week, Jenny would research and present proxy issues (about four a week) to the committee so that it can make recommendations on whether the Harvard Management Company should continue to invest or divest stakes in particular entities. The issues assessed include those related to the environment, sustainability, child labor, outsourcing, animal rights, and political contributions; Jenny recently served on a subcommittee looking at Petro-China’s activities in the Sudan; and as a result of the sub-committee’s recommendation, Harvard divested its position in Petro-China.