As we celebrate another academic year in the books, we also want to call attention to just a few of the many individuals who went above and beyond in their contributions to the DigiPen campus community.
Here are the winners of the 2022 Student Life Excellence Awards, presented by the DigiPen Student Union and voted upon by members of the campus community. We’ve selected some anonymous remarks from the folks who nominated each of this year’s winners.
Student of the Year: Brandon Stam
“Brandon is a key part of the lifeblood of DigiPen’s community. They help run huge portions of the club system and are heavily involved with other aspects of Student Life such as RA activities. Almost anyone who has been to an event at DigiPen can recognize Brandon on sight. To be honest, I’m a bit worried for when they graduate, because of how much they do.”
“Their role as a student leader has been nothing but positive, and their energy alone is enough to get anyone feeling like they can do anything. They constantly push people to get out there and create clubs and be active in the community. … I’ve never failed to see Brandon make a friend out of everyone they talk to — it is quite inspiring. They are full of passion and want to spread it to the world, and it shows in their work and their time here at this school.”
Staff of the Year: Jenelle Borja
“Jenelle jumped on the Housing team middle of fall semester and instantly became a staple to the team. Their high energy encourages the team, and they are the most grounded staff/faculty member I have ever had the pleasure of working with. Jenelle is a joy, gets stuff done, and is overall an amazing addition to DigiPen. They deserve all the recognition for their efforts in their first year here.”
Jenelle Borja is a resident director for DigiPen Housing.
Faculty of the Year: Dan Daly
“Dan is a wonderful professor, but not just that — he is an incredible mentor. My only hope is that other students see how great a mentor he is and seek his help too in their art endeavors. He will take the time to help students because he cares and wears his heart on his sleeve. … He goes to great lengths to teach students who advocate for their learning and will talk to students for as long as they would like to about how to do better art.”
Dan Daly is a senior lecturer in the Department of Animation and Production.
Club of the Year: D&D Club
“This club has been very open and welcoming. The players and DMs are always nice and offer advice and help on any D&D questions. I’ve just always been looking forward to Saturdays with this club.”
“D&D Club is huge and very inclusive. They let anyone join at pretty much any time during the year, and they don’t mind answering questions or helping new players. They also encourage people to use the club to make friends and talk about things going on in their life, making it a very welcoming space.”
Learn more about student clubs at DigiPen.
Gordon Dutrisac Lifetime Excellence Award: Stephen O’Bent
“Professor O’Bent runs the Dragon Chorus and Chamber Singers. … Choir has always been a stress-relieving class, and Professor O’Bent clearly cares about the safety of the students and how they’re feeling. … The care he puts into the students and the class is heartwarming and makes everyone feel welcome and safe in the chorus. I personally took that class only because it was required of me, but after taking a single semester of it, I find myself wanting to take it again for Professor O’Bent’s energy. It gave me a joy in singing that I never really felt before. It boosted my confidence in a way I never expected, and I have Professor O’Bent to thank for that.”
Stephen O’Bent is an assistant professor in the Department of Music.