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9 students win Spirit of Princeton award

Nine seniors were selected as winners of the Spirit of Princeton award, according to deputy dean of undergraduate students Thomas Dunne.

Allison Berger ’18, Christina Onianwa ’18, Diego Negrón-Reichard ’18, Gaby Joseph ’18, Jordan Thomas ’18, Katie Tyler ’18, Maia Craver ’18, Soraya Morales Nuñez ’18, and Zoë Anne Toledo ’18 were the award winners.


The prize is conferred to students who have made contributions to the University through “the arts, community service, students organizations, residential living, religious life and athletic endeavors.” It was first given in 1995. 

The winners will receive a certificate and a book prize and will be honored at a dinner in the beginning of May.

Nominations, which served as the primary criteria for consideration, are evaluated by a committee comprised of administrators and undergraduate students who select the winners. Any undergraduate student can be nominated or contribute to a nomination for the award. Nominations were due on April 9.

Berger, from Madison, N.J., is majoring in economics with a certificate in political economy. She has served as the president of the American Whig-Cliosophic Society, editor for the The Princeton Tory, and founder of the University’s chapter of the Network of Enlightened Women, a group for conservative female undergraduates, among other activities.

Berger is a former Editorial Board chair for The Daily Princetonian. She also founded and chaired the Princeton Editorial Board.

“The ability to learn from people in formal and informal ways has been amazing,” said Berger, emphasizing the importance of strong relationships to the University experience.


Onianwa is an ecology and evolutionary biology major also pursuing a certificate in Spanish. She is the Battalion Executive Officer for the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps Unit Rutgers/Princeton, and will be the first female and African American to commission as a naval officer from Princeton through NROTC. From Dumfries, Va., Onianwa has led several groups on campus, including serving as president of the Princeton Association of Black Women and co-president of Blackbox.

Onianwa could not be reached for comment at the time of publication.

Negrón-Reichard is a Wilson School concentrator from San Juan, Puerto Rico. He is a member of the Wilson School’s Advisory Board and the treasurer of the Princeton Advocates for Justice, in addition to serving on the Undergraduate Student Government as a U-Councilor and as a member of the Projects Board. 

“It felt like the work I’ve done on campus had been recognized,” said Negrón-Reichard, in reference to finding out that he had won. “But most importantly, it felt like a nod to all the people I’ve worked with in the past and all the teams that I’ve had the honor to be a part of."

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Joseph, from Bellevue, Wash., is majoring in molecular biology with a certificate in engineering biology. Besides playing for the varsity men’s soccer team, he has served on the executive leadership team of Princeton Faith and Action, and is an active member of Athletes in Action. Among other activities, Joseph is part of Profound Ivy, Princeton’s minority student-athlete mentorship program.

“The most impactful thing for me at Princeton was seeing people that were not just committed to themselves but committed to others; their friends, their teammates, their classmates,” said Joseph. “People who have inspired me through their desire to spend time with and aid others.”

Thomas is from Newark, N.J., and is a Wilson School concentrator with certificates in Portuguese language and culture and African American studies. He has served on multiple advisory boards and as an RCA in Rockefeller College, where the dining hall’s “JD Thomas Clusters” are named in his honor. Thomas was also selected as a 2018 Rhodes Scholar.

“Finding out that I won was such a special moment because [this] is one of those very particular type of awards where it wasn’t me advocating for myself,” said Thomas, “but rather people who believed that I had contributed to the University in such a way that encouraged them to advocate for and nominate me.”

Tyler, a Near Eastern Studies major with a certificate in Arabic, is from Rye Brook, N.Y. She has been heavily involved in CONTACT Princeton, a crisis and suicide prevention hotline, and was named Volunteer of the Year by CONTACT of Mercer County. Katie is also an OA leader and Leave No Trace Master Educator and a head fellow in the Writing Center, among other activities.

“It means a lot to me that I’ve gained so much from Princeton,” said Tyler. “For me, having the Princeton ‘spirit’ refers to building up the Princeton University community and expanding the University’s reach to include the community beyond the FitzRandolph Gate.” 

Craver is a senior from Irvine, Calif., concentrating in psychology. She is a captain on the varsity women’s track and field team and competes in the heptathlon. Among her other campus activities, she works in the Princeton Baby Lab, a developmental psychology research lab that focuses on understanding how children learn language.

“The ‘spirit’ of Princeton to me means finding ways to make Princeton work for you and being a person who can help others find the best way to make Princeton work for them,” Craver wrote in an email.

“I have met people along the way that have been able to help me learn and understand that there isn’t a set way to navigate Princeton, you have to make your own way, but regardless of how you do it, everyone can do it,“ wrote Craver. “And I think being able to instill that confidence into people around you is what the ‘spirit’ of Princeton is all about.”

Nuñez, a senior from Grand Junction, Colo., is majoring in politics and earning certificates in Latin American studies and History and the Practice of Diplomacy. Nuñez has been heavily involved in activism on campus, serving as an executive board member for Princeton Latinos y Amigos, president of the Princeton QuestBridge Scholars Network, founding member of Princeton Advocates for Justice, member of the Princeton DREAM team, and Class of 2018 USG Senator, among other activities.

One event that had a strong impact on Nuñez was a Latino Alumni Conference that took place in the spring of her junior year, which gave her the opportunity to meet many accomplished Latino alumni and showed her the deep legacy that Latinos have on Princeton’s campus. 

“Princeton has really enabled me to participate in activities that allow me to give back to others in some capacity,” said Nuñez. “It was very inspiring to see how these alumni have used their Princeton education to give back to their communities along with the Princeton community.”

Toledo, a member of the Navajo (Diné) Nation from Long, Utah, is an architecture concentrator. Toledo is president of Natives at Princeton and of the Ivy Native Council, and has led efforts to organize Native American Heritage Month, including setting up a tipi, inviting Native speakers to campus, and working with the dining hall staff at Whitman to host a themed dinner. She has been involved in numerous student groups and has served as a member of the Campus Iconography Committee. 

Toledo could not be reached for comment at the time of publication.