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Spirit, Kindness Awards Go to Three Students

The co-creators of a zine that celebrates Asian students at Emerson, and a graduate student whose kindness reaches into every corner of the campus were honored with Spirit of Emerson and Kindness awards, respectively, at last week’s ERA Awards.

Marieska Luzada ’23 and Jo Malicdem ’23 shared the Tom Cooper Spirit of Emerson Award, as well as a check for $400. Drew Genova, a graduate student in Media Design, also received $400 and the Robert Colby Kindness Award.

Jo Malicdem head shot
Jo Malicdem ’23

Tom Cooper Spirit of Emerson Award

The Spirit of Emerson Award was renamed to honor its founder, Visual and Media Arts Professor Emeritus Tom Cooper, who established the award in 2014 in an effort to spread a little spirit throughout the College. The award honors a person or group that exemplifies three of 10 criteria, including building morale; making Emerson a better place; and making substantial contributions to advancing social justice, inclusion, and equity.

Marieska Luzaga head shot
Marieska Luzaga ’23

Journalism majors Luzada and Malicdem are officers of ASIA (Asian Students in Alliance), and co-creators and editors of ASIA’s Lunchbox (Instagram: Through personal essays, photographs, fiction, and poetry, on everything from identity to food to music, Lunchbox creates a community for Asian students – both for the contributors and the readers, who see themselves represented and celebrated.

“They have built a rich community that helps Asian students feel safe and at home at Emerson, regardless of where they are from or where they are living,” their nominator said. “Lunchbox was the first place that I felt both welcomed and heard as an Asian at Emerson.”

Jehan Ayesha ’23 said “Jo and Marieska work very hard to achieve success in their own fields, but they do this by creating opportunities for others as well, opening the door for Asian students at Emerson to be as authentic as they want to be in their own art-making process.”

Drew Genova in fur trimmed coat in profile at night
Drew Genova

Robert Colby Kindness Award

Each year, the Robert Colby Kindness Award honors a person or persons who spreads unconditional, unwavering, and selfless kindness among the Emerson community. The award is named for the late Bob Colby, a beloved long-time Performing Arts professor, and celebrates someone who exemplifies generosity, teamwork, compassion, and ethics.

Drew Genova, internship coordinator for the Career Development Center, stood out to the Spirit of Emerson Committee because they were nominated by colleagues, friends, fellow grad students, an instructor, and others, which speaks to the reach of their kindness.

“Wherever they are, they contribute meaningfully and thoughtfully to class discussion, career development programming, and community support,” wrote one nominator. “They have an amazing ability to make the people around them feel comfortable, and an intuitive understanding of when to draw attention and when to make room for others.”

Another nominator described their interactions when classes were meeting on Zoom:

“They always showed up with enthusiasm and intentionality and listened to their classmates, asking engaged questions and letting peers know they had been heard. Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to meet them in person and they always make the extra effort to ensure everyone feels included in classes and in meetings.”

Submitted by Jaqi Holland, SOE Committee


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