March 25, 2021

Student award winners

Hunter Leach ’21 and Adya Chatterjee ’22 earn honors
by Nancy Hitchcock

People often have vivid memories—a snapshot—of where they were when they heard notable news. This is the case for two students who recently learned they had won significant awards.

Hunter Leach ’21 was playing squash in the Snyder Center earlier this year when he received an email on his phone stating that he had won the Fundraising Hero Award from Bread and Roses, a soup kitchen in downtown Lawrence, Mass., where he has volunteered through the Office of Community Engagement. Adya Chatterjee ’22 remembers waking up at home in Singapore in early 2021 and hearing that she had won several Scholastic Art and Writing Awards.

Hunter Leach ’21

For Leach, community engagement has always been important and during this past challenging year, his efforts were especially appreciated. During upper year, Leach started volunteering at Bread and Roses serving food to those in need. When the pandemic hit and the organization’s dining services were shut down, Leach found other ways to support the program: most significantly, he raised $27,000 through an email fundraising campaign. In addition, Leach used graphic design and art skills he learned in Art 600 and Summer Session courses to create eye-catching placemats and designed an animated public safety announcement for Bread and Roses’ Facebook page. Leach also gathered clean socks and winter hats to donate.

“Hunter took his commitment to a whole new level,” says Bread and Roses executive director Susan Sirois. “Not just because of his generosity and active support, but also because he was so drawn to our staff and volunteers, to our guests, and to the many services that we provide. It was truly an honor to present Hunter with this award.”

In Leach’s family, helping others comes naturally. His grandfather and other family members are doctors and he and his family have volunteered at a food pantry in Gloucester, Mass., for many years. The soon-to-graduate senior plans to attend college next year where he will continue his work in community engagement and food waste reduction.

“I value making other people’s lives better,” he says. “One of my college essay prompts was ‘As you look to the future, what gives you hope?’ For me, the answer was knowing that there are people as kind and thoughtful as those who work at organizations like Bread and Roses. Meeting and working with members of the B&R community showed me how big people's hearts can be—which definitely helped me get through this past year.”

Just as giving back is important to Leach, writing is an essential part of Chatterjee’s life. She frequently jots ideas in the Notes app on her phone, which she then turns into poems or phrases in her essays. Chatterjee recently won several awards from the Scholastic Art & Writing Award program for her writing.

Adya Chatterjee ’22

In January, she earned four Massachusetts Scholastic Art and Writing Awards—four Gold Key awards: two for poems and two for personal essays. The acknowledgment was especially notable since more than 2,700 submissions were considered. More recently this month, Chatterjee found out that she had received a national Gold Medal for her poem "Tumoresque." All of the national and regional Scholastic Art & Writing Awards are presented by the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers, a nonprofit organization that identifies students with exceptional artistic and literary talent. Collaborations also make the awards possible, such as with a sponsorship by The Boston Globe Foundation and School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University.

One of Chatterjee's winning essays—that also received a scholarship and Best in Category Award—Concatenation, is an essay that English Instructor Sarah Driscoll describes as “deeply lyrical, resonant, and poignant.” Driscoll says, “Adya excels here as both a stylist and a trailblazer regarding gender issues. She is a gifted writer, and I can't wait to see where Adya takes her talents in the future.”

Chatterjee started writing poetry when she was in elementary school; in seventh grade she learned about slam poetry. She especially likes performing poetry and participates in the slam poetry club on campus.

“I think slam poetry has grown quite a bit,” Chatterjee says. “It sounds so good and rolls off your tongue. One of my favorite poems, 59 by Harry Baker, is a love story between prime numbers. That poem opened my eyes to how slam poetry can be. I’m trying to combine humor and everyday relatable phrases with something deeper. I want people to read my writing and feel something. I have a lyrical style—my poetry and my prose are almost one and the same. I want to make things punchy and relatable.”

Chatterjee is passionate about writing and believes that PA has made her a better writer. “PA taught me to be more critical of my own writing," she says. "PA also showed me that I can have a voice and I should be using that voice to vocalize what is important to me and to the people around me.”

Categories: Campus Life

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