Alumni Association Awards Scholarships

Posted: April 25, 2007 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Ken Budd, BA ’88, MA ‘97

On April 18, the George Mason University Alumni Association held its annual Celebration of Distinction, honoring dozens of outstanding people — alumni, faculty and students — for their achievements and contributions to the university. The Gazette will be profiling the student award winners this week.

The Peter C. Forame Student Leadership Scholarship

Lisa Lustig
Lisa Lustig

Ask Lisa Lustig to name a leader she admires and the answer — Oprah Winfrey — may surprise you.

But Lustig shares a number of qualities with America’s daytime TV titan: a compassionate spirit, a driving ambition and a philanthropic zeal. Lustig is the winner of the 2007 Forame Leadership Scholarship, though until she arrived at Mason, she never saw herself as a leader.

“In high school I didn’t think I was qualified to take on leadership positions,” says Lustig, an integrative studies major in New Century College. “Mason gave me the opportunity to reinvent myself.”

How’s this for a makeover? The once-reluctant leader became senior peer advisor at Mason’s Freshman Center in 2006, managing and evaluating 30 advisors who act as mentors to first-year students.

She’s also chapter president of the Alpha Phi sorority and a fund-raising dynamo. The Mason chapter raises money each semester for the Alpha Phi Foundation in Support of Cardiac Care, and Lustig realized that for her sisters to become goodhearted go-getters, they had to first feel connected to the cause. After hearing stories from a sister-turned-nurse who works in a local hospital’s cardiac wing, chapter members raised over $10,000 in two years, their biggest totals ever.

Lustig has been on the Dean’s List every semester during her time at Mason — her GPA is 3.75 — and when she graduates in 2008, she wants to work for a nonprofit. Her mission? “Helping people grow and become stronger individuals.”

The George Mason University Alumni Association Service Scholarship

Kennedy Keenan
Photos by Laura Sikes

At the age of 14, a time when many teens struggle just to survive their own awkwardness (let alone gym class), Kennedy Keenan set a world record. The year was 2001, and Keenan teamed with two friends at her school in Delmar, Del., to organize the world’s largest hug.

The goal: to promote antiviolence awareness in schools on the anniversary of the Columbine shootings. The record lasted all of four days — a corporation broke it by organizing a hug around Giants Stadium — but the undeterred Keenan simply embraced new challenges, a big reason why she’s the winner of the 2007 Alumni Association Service Scholarship.

Despite balancing classes and jobs, this former team captain in four different high school sports has committed herself to aiding others, whether organizing an event to help soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center or fulfilling a dream for a struggling young leukemia patient who wanted to meet Mason’s men’s basketball team.

Keenan, now 20, learned much about compassion while volunteering at a nursing home in Delmar; from “crushing up Mrs. Kathy’s ice the way she likes it” and “filling up the bird feeder outside of blind Mr. Nate’s window so he can hear the birds singing in the morning.”

It’s a sense of commitment that will only grow once she graduates. A government and international affairs major, she hopes to lead a nonprofit such as the Red Cross or Special Olympics, or maybe even become the governor of Delaware.

“No matter what,” she says, “I just want to help people and give back to my country all it’s given to me.”

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