Awardees include UC Davis students Mariah Watson, Lauren Jabusch, UCLA student Tyler Watson
On May 11, two UC Davis students, Mariah Watson and Lauren Jabusch, and one UCLA student, Tyler Watson, were presented the University of California (UC) President’s Award for Outstanding Leadership at the UC Board of Regents meeting.
This award was established in 2010 to recognize undergraduates, graduates, professional students and campus-based student organizations for going above and beyond in supporting and promoting multi-campus initiatives. The award honors collaborative efforts that further the UC’s mission of teaching, research and public service.
The awardees are first nominated by the chancellors at all 10 UC campuses and from the UC Student Association, then a selection committee consisting of staff from the UC Office of the President (UCOP) reviews and scores each of the nominations, and UC President Janet Napolitano selects the winners. Individual recipients receive a $2,000 grant, while the organization recipients receive $2,500.
“This award was created to recognize UC students for their hard work, their creative thinking, and their public service,” Napolitano said in the UC press release. “I am honored to present these awards today for the third time in my tenure as president.”
Mariah Watson, a fourth-year international relations and philosophy double major, was awarded for her leadership during her tenure in ASUCD as senator and president. She believes she was chosen for her eagerness and participation to make UC Davis a more diverse and inclusive campus.
“I’ve demonstrated a willingness to engage, dialogue, and organize on a number of different issues throughout my four years here at Davis,” Watson said via email.
One of Watson’s achievements include establishing a productive liaison between the UCOP and the Afrikan Black Coalition.
“In particular, I believe that my recent work in organizing a series of statewide meetings in order to establish a relationship between UCOP and the leaders of the Afrikan Diaspora [is why I was chosen],” Watson said. “During these meetings, we won divestment from director holdings in prisons, retention plans, scholarship funds, etc. It was extremely productive and unprecedented.”
Other accomplishments Watson has achieved include developing a campus task force to combat homelessness, forming and planning community forums regarding national police brutality that other campuses have since modeled after, and working with UC Davis to organize the White House Summit on Educational Excellence for African Americans.
“It’s humbling to say the least. I wasn’t expecting it. When I do things with the community to better campus climate or improve the student experience, it’s not for awards and praise, Watson said. “So truly, this was a testament to all the mentors I’ve had who just told me to keep pushing and do what’s best for the communities we serve.”
In regards to her initial reaction, Watson just thought “Oh, this is cool,” but further realized the award was beyond just “cool.”
“My first reaction was ‘how in the world did they pick me out of all the amazing student leaders across the UC,’” Watson said. “I think that as students we don’t often take the time to think about just how incredible the work we collectively do across the UC is. We work countless jobs and often sacrifice our grades and wellbeing for the betterment of our campuses.”
Jabusch, a doctorate student in biological and agricultural engineering, was awarded for her influence and initiative on campus for fostering sustainability.
“UCOP sent us emails late one night only a week in advance. I didn’t know that I had been nominated so it was quite a surprise,” Jabusch said via email. “It is quite an honor to be recognized and especially with such good company.”
Since her UC Davis undergraduate years as a member and now chair, Jabusch has been heavily involved with the California Student Sustainability Coalition (CSSC). Through CSSC, she has started an alumni network, helped create and teach sustainability courses such as the Education for Sustainable Living Program, run environmental campaigns like the Fossil Free Divestment and organized large scale coalition conferences.
In addition, Jabusch has also coordinated the first Cool Campus Challenge this past fall, attracting 19,000 participants across the UC, and is currently the community and engagement fellow for the Carbon Neutrality Initiative (CNI) for UCOP where she helps develop a teaching curriculum, builds student environmental research centers across the system and promotes CNI through blogs and social media.
Jabusch also served as an NSF Resource and currently works as a mentor for the program, where she taught sixth graders a science curriculum focusing on renewable energy and mentored a team of students in a year-long sustainability project to win a competition.
“I was very excited [about winning the award]. It has been wonderful to share good news with friends and family,” Jabusch said. “The highlight so far has been Dr. Andy [Jones] of Pub Quiz fame wrote about my work for his weekly Pub Quiz newsletter. New Davis celebrity status attained!”
Written by: Yvonne Leong – firstname.lastname@example.org