The inaugural Al Khayr awards gala took place on Thursday, April 24 at the Beach Rotana Hotel. The awards, an initiative of the Office of Campus Life, were created in 2014 to recognize student leadership among the NYU Abu Dhabi community.
Freshman Yi Yi Yeap, one of two student representatives on the organizing committee, spoke about the value of the awards. She stressed that the awards seek to recognize leadership, rather than leaders.
“We wanted to emphasize that it wasn’t just for people in Student Government or people that are presidents or chairs of [Student Interest Groups] but for people that aren’t in those positions but do a lot of work as well,” said Yeap.
From over 110 nominations, the committee selected 44 finalists and three student groups to invite to the gala. Senior Alejandra Pinto was nominated for her work with Sama Circle, a biweekly discussion group that focuses on a variety of themes that draw on students’ personal experiences and issues.
“I think that our students are very capable in extra-curricular activities and this is the first time that they have created an award to recognize that leadership,” she said, speaking shortly before the winners were announced.
Robert Leary, residence director at the Office of Residential Education, came up with the initial concept and spearheaded the organizing committee. Leary felt the existing Of-The-Year Awards presented by Hall Council did not capture the full range of student leadership.
Creating the awards required, however, a new framework unique to NYUAD. The Al Khayr awards, which take their name from the Arabic word meaning the ultimate good, had 12 categories. These included UAE Cultural Ambassador for leadership in the promotion of cultural understanding in the UAE and The Unsung Hero Award, recognizing extensive, albeit unrecognized, work.
Yeap said the awards were created to recognize leadership at NYUAD across all departments of Campus Life.
“We had to come up with every detail from the nomination criteria … the nomination categories to the selection process,” said Yeap. “The 12 categories could easily change next year and in the years to come.”
Al Khayr Awards: Winners and Nominees
NYU Presidential Service Awards
Ecoherence (All of the nominees)
UAE Cultural Ambassador
Maitha Al Mansoori
The Unsung Hero
James Carrington Gardner
Outstanding Student Program
Woman’s Leadership Network
Inclusivity and Understanding