On Tuesday, May 4, the Pace Center said thank you and farewell to members of the Class of 2017 at the Pace Center Senior Dinner and honored two seniors with a special award, the A. James Fisher, Jr. '36 Prize.
Each year the Fisher Prize is awarded to graduating Princeton seniors who best exemplify the qualities for which Mr. Fisher is remembered, including an entrepreneurial spirit, irresistible zest for life, building community at Princeton, mentoring and promoting their peers, and commitment to Princeton and its mission of service.
This year, Tess Bissell '17 and Marlyn Bruno '17 are the A. James Fisher, Jr. '36 Prize recipients.
"Everyone who knows Tess knows she is committed to service and educational justice in particular," said David Brown, assistant director at the Pace Center and staff advisor to the Student Volunteers Council (SVC). "She is extremely dedicated and in everything she's been involved with - as a SVC volunteer, project leader and board leader, as a Community Action (CA) leader, and Breakout Princeton participant - she has not only done a stellar job, but has left her mark."
He shared how Tess helped to bring SVC projects together with staff and faculty advisors to bolster learning and share expertise, and in doing so has made such connections a formal part of the SVC program.
"All of these things make our projects that much stronger with relationships with experts in the field," he said.
Eliza Blades, a program coordinator with the Pace Center who oversees the Breakout Princeton program, shared how Marlyn's abilities to see connections and thoughtfully bring students together has had a positive impact on the Breakout program and enhanced students' learning and collaboration.
"When she saw that there were multiple Breakout trips related to immigrant and forced migration issues, she decided to bring them together," she said. "Her goal was to facilitate learning and discussion as well as ways that the trips could support one another." Marlyn, a Chicago native studying psychology, neuroscience and Spanish at Princeton, worked with faculty, staff and pulled from her own internship experience the previous summer studying migration in Madrid, Spain.
"The training was highly attended and students were deeply appreciative of the opportunity to collaborate," she added. "Marlyn is a true example of how with service comes responsibility - and one that becomes shared when we work together and deepen connections."
At the Senior Dinner, attendees enjoyed great food and conversation. Several seniors also shared parting reflections on their time in service at Princeton.
"One of the things that has been most special to me is that in a lot of spaces on campus you need to be really confident and think that you know everything, even if you didn't read the precept text all all," said Colleen O'Gorman '17. "But in service you need to be humble and stick to your principles. Being overly confident or pretending you know everything isn't helpful when you are serving."
"I've been reflecting a lot about my time at Princeton," added Deana Hamlin '17. "And one thing that has stood out to me is how the Pace Center really reaches a diverse range of students and that you get to meet students you wouldn't have otherwise. With the Pace Center I've known what it's like to have true friends. Two of my best friends I met on CA. I've also learned that it's important to get outside of your four walls, to open your mind and get involved with the community around you."
"If you were to ask the incoming students why they are coming to Princeton, they'd probably say the undergraduate focus and great professors in the classroom," said Daniel Rounds '17. "But if you were to ask us as seniors we'd say that service has been a huge part of our experience here and that it's been perhaps the most impactful and most important part of it. In service we can bring what we learn in precept to the community and learn from the world around us."