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Students Honored for Outstanding Service to Others at 15th Annual Servant Leader Awards  

Students honored at 15th Annual Servant Leader Awards x320Four students were honored for their outstanding dedication to service to others in the local community and across the globe at the 15th annual Servant Leader Awards reception on April 9. The 2019 Servant Leader Award Recipients are: Gabriella Bryce, Laura Cavanagh, Benjamin Jaros and Ryan Johnson.

The Servant Leader Award is intended to honor students who exemplify the ideals of service both on and off campus and in recognition of outstanding achievements in service to others.

"This evening celebrates some of the most important contributions a student can make during their years at Seton Hall," said Michelle Peterson, director of the Division of Volunteer Efforts (DOVE) and chair of the Servant Leader Award Committee. "It celebrates the love, the compassion and the immeasurable time that Gabby, Laura, Ryan and Ben have given to others."

She continued, "While we do place importance on academics, athletics and involvement, what these four individuals embody is what sets Seton Hall apart: servant leadership, social justice and commitment to our Catholic Mission."

Each year, members of the Servant Leader Award Committee, which is comprised of faculty and administrators in the Seton Hall community, receive and review dozens of nominations for the award. The committee then invites a number of students to partake in the interview process.

"It is a true honor to experience and know our students, who are dedicated to serving our local and global communities," said Daniela Gloor, member of the award committee and associate director of Donor Relations. "The recipients have all drawn from their own stories and lives to create their foundation of service and have made significant strides to serve those in need. They have demonstrated an unwavering resolve in their efforts to end social injustice and are leaders who inspire their peers and those they serve on a daily basis. It is evident to us that service and faith are at the core of each of our recipients and their passion to aid others is humbling."

Mark Cantine '10/M.P.A. '12 was the honored guest speaker at the ceremony and congratulated the four awardees. Cantine, who served as a graduate assistant in DOVE during his time at Seton Hall, told the recipients in his speech to always look for ways to serve, to never stop looking for opportunities beyond Seton Hall and to serve the greater community.

2019 Servant Leader Awards Recipients

Gabriella Bryce is a senior education major in the College of Education and Human Services. Bryce was nominated by her friend and brother in the Alpha Phi Omega fraternity, Madeline Pfaff. In her video interview, Pfaff recognized Bryce as "a role model who shows you why you want to do service and why you want to help others." Bryce found her passion for service and giving back to the community after personally struggling with poverty. Because of the generosity and compassion of others, she wanted to give back to those who might not yet have the help she received.

Bryce planned and coordinated her fraternity's first-ever charity ball and raised over $2,000 to help provide shelter for the homeless. She also spends time coordinating dinner dances and activities for those with disabilities at Cerebral Palsy of North Jersey (CPNJ). In addition, Bryce has done service internationally by traveling to Haiti, Jamaica and Kenya to enlist in efforts to give aid to children.

"I have had so many opportunities around me to do service, which is what makes me continue doing service after graduation," Bryce said. "It made me look into doing service on my own."

To learn more about Bryce, click here »


Laura Cavanagh is a senior social and behavioral sciences major in the College of Arts and Sciences. She was nominated by her sister, Amanda, who watches her sister "lead with humility" and act "consistently in a leadership role."

Service and faith run in Cavanagh's blood—she comes from a family where those two elements play a key role. Her sister received the Servant Leader Award in 2016, and her mother helped launch DOVE during her time at Seton Hall.

One of Cavanagh's highlights from her service experience has been the Appalachia Mission Camp she has attended every summer since she was young. Every year, she and her team repair over 45 homes in the area in addition to building a new one. Cavanagh returns to the communities she serves every holiday season to organize a Christmas party and offer gifts to more than 85 children and their families.

Cavanagh has attended multiple mission trips to El Salvador and Haiti and often returns to those communities to serve the children who live there.

"I feel like a lot of the service I did before coming to Seton Hall was just giving," Cavanagh said. "Being at Seton Hall, I've been put into a lot of leadership roles where I've had to take charge of situations. It put me in a unique situation where I was making decisive choices and actions."

"Service has become a part of what I do," she said. "It's not something that I think about—it's something that I am."

To learn more about Cavanagh, click here »


Benjamin Jaros is a junior studying business administration in the Stillman School of Business. Jaros was nominated by graduate student Kiersten Lynch. "He is just an exceptional leader," Lynch said in her video interview. "He is very aware of his talents and is constantly thinking about how he can utilize those to serve others."

Jaros' servant leadership started with his time as an Eagle Scout in high school. He has since made an impact on the Seton Hall community in a number of ways.

In the fall of 2018, he co-founded and launched The Heart of the Hall publication, which "seeks to inspire the hearts and minds of its readers through developing the Catholic intellectual tradition." The student-driven publication has made an impact not only on the Catholic community, but also in the student community by prompting students to think about how their intellectual interests and experiences connect with the Catholic mission.

Jaros often volunteers with the Samaritan House near his home in Denver, which shelters over 500 homeless families. His experience in working with the women at the shelter has inspired him to work with and grow the pro-life movement on campus.

"My leadership isn't just to serve my own goals or my own mission but to serve the mission of the whole community and to serve elements of the community that might not be supported already or need to be served," Jaros said. "Being here at Seton Hall while we are being taught in the Catholic intellectual tradition to give back is an important element of that tradition."

To learn more about Jaros, click here »


Ryan Johnson is a junior marketing and management major in the Stillman School of Business. He was nominated by the Rev. Dr. Forrest Pritchett, faculty mentor in Freshman Studies and program director of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership Program.

Johnson is a scholar in the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership Program and entered Seton Hall through the Educational Opportunity Program. He currently serves as the president of the Multicultural Advisory Committee and incorporates service into its programming. One of those programs includes Pirate Pack, where he and his peers packed over 10,000 meals to ship to an impoverished country.

Johnson focuses his service on giving back to communities with food insecurities after he and his mother personally experienced the difficulties of not having enough food. He volunteers at St. John's Soup Kitchen in Newark.

"I knew deep down that this was my calling to give back in that way," Johnson said. "At one point, I was on the other end of the counter receiving it. Now, being the one to give it makes all the difference."

Throughout his experience at Seton Hall, Johnson learned the importance of mentorship. He hopes to serve as a mentor to incoming freshmen and give back to the student community.

To learn more about Johnson, click here »

Categories: Campus Life , Education

For more information, please contact:

  • Michelle Peterson
  • (973) 761-9702
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