SGA banquet celebrates participants’ hard work

“Eddie, good luck.” These words were spoken by Sen. Amul Madan to newly sworn-in president Edward O’Leary during the SGA’s end of the year banquet Sunday night. Madan was one of the senators awarded for outstanding service to SGA’s Publicity Committee.

The banquet drew laughter, memories and the induction of new leadership with Edward O’Leary, Mark Brewster and Katherine Capocelli being sworn into their elected positions. Capocelli said she is excited about taking on the position as executive director of university relations, but she also is nervous about filling the shoes of Kelly Carnes.

“Trying to fill in Kelly’s shoes is going to be hard,” Capocelli said. “Next year I want organizations to grow as a whole, help VCU expand and get students involved.”

The banquet awarded gifts to SGA senators, advisers and VCU students who contributed to the student government this year. Charles Klink, director of University Counseling Services, was recognized for his advising of the Appropriations Committee.

“It was an honor and a privilege to work with the Appropriations Committee again this year,” Klink said at the banquet. “I think you guys are doing a wonderful job with student government and keep up the good work.” Timothy Reed, director of University Student Commons and Activities, was recognized for his commitment as senior adviser to the SGA.

“You all know not to give me a microphone,” Reed said as he stepped up to the podium. “I want to recognize all of the advisers. I think all of them did a great job because there’s no way one adviser could do this, and that’s why you should have a lot.”

Sen. Jithin Veer awarded Sen. Megan Shandelson as the outstanding committee member for her work with the Student Services Committee.

“She was so dedicated and volunteered to take on additional responsibilities out of the ordinary,” Veer said. “Her attendance was exceptional and for all of her hard work I would like to recognize her.”

Sens. Emad Maghsoudi and Emeka Eni awarded Omar Yacoubi for his dedication as editor in chief for the Security and Escort Services Committee report. The committee began this spring.

“We have done everything together so we might as well present this award together,” Maghsoudi said. “The Security and Escort Committee was the most intense thing I’ve done this year. Every member truly worked very hard, but Emeka and I decided this person was outstanding, he probably was the only one who didn’t sleep for three days finishing the commission report.”

President Zmarak Khan awarded Chief Justice Ali Faruk for his commitment to the judicial branch and thanked all justices for their service. Khan recalled the times when there were doubts about creating a judicial branch.

“I had learned a lot from other schools who had judicial branches,” Khan said.

“When I presented the idea at first, everyone was really opposed to it and everyone thought it was pointless. In my head we needed a proactive SGA and we need to do things that will be challenged. I thought a judicial branch was really needed and I think they’re amazing people.”

Reuban Rodriguez, associate vice provost and dean of student affairs, won the official “pimp award” for supporting the SGA. Rodriguez said he was surprised when he won the zebra striped hat and wore it proudly at the banquet.

“I was quite surprised,” Rodriguez said. “The students did a good job putting the banquet together. I think overall it was a nice banquet and people really enjoyed themselves.”

Rodriguez also said he is looking forward to another year as an SGA adviser and said O’Leary will be a good president.

“I think he’ll do a good job,” Rodriguez said. “Part of Zmarak’s success was because of Eddie. He reached out to students, and I have no doubt that he’ll be successful in his role.”

President Khan gave his last presidential speech, telling the group that he has appreciated being part of the SGA. Khan said he will soon leave Richmond for legal studies at Michigan State University.

“SGA is definitely better today than it was two years ago,” Khan said during his speech. “Not because of me, but because of you all. I could not have done this job without all of the great staff – they do such a great job.”

O’Leary said he is looking forward to next year as SGA president and has learned a lot from Khan:

“I’ve never had a peer of mine who taught me so much.”

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