Donald Jolly '04 recently received this year's Ranny B. Cardozo '78 Prize, which goes to the outstanding member of the junior class who most exemplifies academic enthusiasm, genuine concern for fellow classmates and energetic participation in campus and community activities.
Students may remember Jolly from the days after Sept. 11 when he wore a large placard around his neck that read "Will Work for Peace."
The sign was intended to comfort those scared by Sept. 11 and to make a statement to stop all types of terrorist attacks, Jolly said.
The idea for this response to the tragedy evolved from a sign reading "We Need Love" that he wore during the Winter and Spring terms of his freshman year after an English 5 assignment Jolly had that asked him to change the world at Dartmouth.
"There's too much racism, sexism, homophobia, classism -- too much hate here. One of the problems was that we need love, so I started wearing this sign," Jolly said.
Jolly has also been extensively involved in the Afro-American Society, the Black Underground Theater and Arts Association, the Dartmouth Rainbow Alliance, the Gay Straight Alliance and People of Color. He is also one of the original members of the Diversity Peer Program.
According to Oliver Bernstein '03, last year's Cardozo Prize winner and the chair of this year's selection committee, Jolly's "efforts to bridge the gap between students of color and LGBT students on campus and his efforts to start and take leadership positions in organizations that addressed that gap" most impressed the committee.
Jolly, who said he could have chosen many "isms" to combat on campus, decided to tackle the issues of racism and homophobia at the College, stepping up to become the liaison between the Afro-American Society and the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender groups on campus when, he said, "no one else was willing to be that liaison."
In this position, Jolly not only reported to the Afro-American Society on the progress of the meetings he attended for LGBT organizations but also organized a film and discussion series to talk about gays in the black community.
Even with all of his accomplishments, Jolly remains humble, trying to affect the lives of those who feel excluded from different social groups.
"The most important thing to me in this work is to make sure to speak for those who feel left out, because all throughout high school and just growing up, for various reasons, I felt left out," Jolly said.
"In wearing the signs and just speaking out about these things we're not supposed to talk about -- we're not supposed to talk about racism, we're not supposed to talk about sexuality -- I want to be some sort of inspiration or comfort for the person who feels left out."
Jolly plans to continue his fight against bias in the future, recognizing, as he said, that "there's so much that still needs to be done" on issues of race and sexuality.
"I'm not wearing the sign, but we still need love," Jolly said.
The committee that selected Jolly, chaired by Bernstein and composed of 10 seniors and Lisa Thum, the Dean of the Class of 2004, sent out requests for nominations to the entire senior class as well as to administrators and faculty members, Bernstein said.
The committee then assessed all the students nominated against the criteria for the award.
"It's very difficult to select just one student, but that was the nature of the award," Bernstein said.
"Once we got it down to a handful of people, Donald was really someone that everyone on the diverse committee felt comfortable with. The more we learned about him ... the more impressed we were with him," he said.
The Cardozo Prize was established by the classmates, parents and friends of Ranny Cardozo '78, who died in 1976. Cardozo was a member of Psi Upsilon fraternity, the Dartmouth ski patrol, the sailing team and The Dartmouth. His enthusiasm for academics and extensive commitment to campus life serve as a model for the character traits that the Cardozo Prize honors.