Each May, the Harvard Alumni Association (HAA) selects two undergraduates to receive the David and Mimi Aloian Memorial Scholarships. This year, in honor of the program’s 25th anniversary, the HAA selected four students. They will be honored at the fall meeting of the HAA Board of Directors on Sept. 27.
The criteria for the award reflect the traits valued and embodied by the late David and Mimi Aloian: thoughtful leadership that makes the College an exciting place in which to live and study, and special contributions to the quality of life in the Houses. David Aloian ’49 was the HAA’s executive director, and he and his wife, Mary “Mimi” Aloian, served as masters of Quincy House from 1981 to 1986.
This year’s David and Mimi Aloian Memorial Scholars
Matthew Chuchul ’13 of Pforzheimer House, Laura Hinton ’13 of Cabot House, Abiola Laniyonu ’13 of Lowell House, and Meghan Joy Smith ’13 of Leverett House.
Matthew Chuchul, of New Hyde Park, N.Y., is co-chair of his House Committee and, according to his House masters, has “dramatically increased participation. His leadership is genuine; he is consistently concerned about others, asking students about their lives and their opinions.” This past February, noting a void in “Pfoho’s” history, Chuchul teamed up with the Harvard College Women’s Center to launch the “Radcliffe Revolution,” a photographic retrospective and evening of alumnae recollections of the transition to gender-mixed housing. The presentation, which involved posters, documents, and a panel, brought together more than 100 alumni, students, House administrators, and other interested members of the Harvard community.
Laura Hinton, of Alameda, Calif., has helped build and strengthen the Cabot House community and is truly devoted to the well-being and sense of belonging among all students, tutors, and staff in her community. In addition to her role as co-chair of the Cabot House Committee, she is a founding team member of the Cabot Café, a space for students to engage intellectually and socially with tutors, faculty, and fellow students. The café serves hundreds of customers each week and is making an important contribution to improving Harvard undergraduate life. Hinton’s House masters believe that the café is “a model for other Houses in how to create social spaces in innovative ways that provide leadership and learning opportunities for the students.”
Abiola Laniyonu, of Derwood, Md., has worked tirelessly to strengthen the Lowell House community, enrich intellectual opportunities, and nurture fellow students to participate more fully in the life of the House. Just one example of harnessing his ability to solve complex problems and meet a need in the community is when he — on his own initiative — helped modernize the Lowell House library by creating custom software to analyze the more than 10,000 library holdings. Community members can now cross-reference their books against other Harvard holdings, all while taking into account the current prices of the books. Laniyonu served as secretary of the House Committee and continues to bring his creativity, enthusiasm, perspective, and reliability to the committee through an at-large leadership position created specifically for him.
Meghan Joy Smith, of Campbell River, British Columbia, Canada, believes the personal well-being of the members within a House is the essence of a community and “is relentless in her devotion to the mental and physical wellness of her fellow Leverites,” according to her House masters. Among Smith’s many contributions to House and College life, the most dramatic has been her work with the Student Mental Health Liaisons. More than just raising the awareness level, she has worked hard to change the culture — to make asking for help a normal response to stress or illness. She is also active as a Drug and Alcohol Peer Advisor and is the captain of Leverett’s intramural crew women’s B boat.