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Harold W. Colvin Award for Leadership by an Undergraduate

Sydney Curts, 2022-23 Recipient

About the Honoree

Harold Colvin joined the staff of the University YMCA on February 1, 1919. He immediately developed an extensive outreach service for Champaign-Urbana youth, which provided both valuable character development for participants and excellent leadership training for the University of Illinois students who guided these programs. Mr. Colvin moved to the national staff of the College and University YMCA in 1927 where he became known for his great organizational abilities and his warmth of character. From 1961 to 1976 - after "retirement" - Mr. Colvin was the director of the newly established Fred S. Bailey Scholarship Program that has since given millions of dollars to qualified students with demonstrated leadership potential.

About the Award

Given to a University of Illinois undergraduate student who has demonstrated superior leadership ability and devotion to the objectives of the University YMCA. In harmony with Mr. Colvin's commitment to the objectives of the YMCA in higher education, the Colvin Award will be given to a student who has stimulated spiritual and ethical growth, fostered good interpersonal and inter group relationships, promoted social, political and economic justice, while maintaining the integrity of the natural world at the local, state and national levels.

Sydney Curts, 2022-23 Recipient

Sydney Curts is a Senior at the University of Illinois, majoring in Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences. Sydney was a founding member of Grow2Give, a student organization at the U of I that started during the height of the COVID pandemic that uses green space to grow fresh vegetables to help with food insecurity. As president of the organization, she worked not only to establish Grow2Give as a Registered Student Organization on campus, but to build lasting partnerships with other units, departments and community organizations. Since its inception, Grow2Give has expanded green space and garden beds in the community, provided fresh, accessible and free produce to students and organized talks with guest speakers. In the Spring of 2021 Grow2Give was approved as a Y-sponsored student organization, the first addition in nearly a decade.

For the past two years Sydney has also served as the President of the Student Board at the University YMCA. Due to complications surrounding Covid, the Student Board was unable to meet during the 2020-2021 academic year, and returned to campus in the Fall of 2021 without a single returning member. Sydney worked closely with staff to rebuild the group from the ground up, identifying new members and creating a renewed interest in the Y among students. In two short years four more student organizations have joined the Y, with interests as diverse as food waste and sustainability, advocating for undocumented students, and supporting students from rural areas. She worked with staff to provide a renovation of the Student Programs Office, and has been active on the Board of Governors of the Y, working to find ways to deepen and expand student participation at the Y. Her work with StuBo and on the Board has seen new collaborations between Student Organizations and increased participation in Y programming.

This has been one of the more disruptive times for students in recent memory, however despite all the challenges faced, under Sydney's leadership we have seen a strengthening of student programming at the Y. Her service to the programs, community and mission of the University YMCA has been exemplary.

Past Award Recipients

2023: Sydney Curts

2022: Stuart Seputro

2021: Tyler Courson, Rebecca Riekki

2020: Abigale Pstrzoch

2019: Griselda Escobedo

2018: Michelle Awad

2017: Monica Saavedra

2016: Jacob Ferruzzi and Sana Singh

2015: Amanda Hwu

2014: Tyler Rotche

2013: Matt Rundquist

2012: Kenneth Long and Shikhank Sharma

2011: Jesse Hoyt

2010: Virginia Byrne and Amy Allen

2009: Jackie Wincek and Rose Yaguchi

2008: Ellen Dahlke and Becky Robinson

2007: Abbey Delgadillo and Rachel White-Domain

2006: Paul Heiberger

2005: Ashley Peterson

2004: Nick Fleege and Danielle Schumacher

2003:  Danielle Marino and Jennifer Walling

2002: Ellie Kron and Jennifer Walling

2001: Erin Krejci

2000: Frank Hassler and Jon Dolle

1998: Rosemarie Stremlau

1997: Joanne Vokoun and Kate Douglas

1996: Ebrahim Patel and Yvette J. Gatilao

1995: Monique Norington

1994: Doug Chien

1993: Abbigail Illenberger and Chirag Mehta

1992: Edith Buhs

1991: Joseph Chamley