Joel M. Malina, vice president for university relations (center), presented graduating seniors Angelina Tang ’24 (left) and Alexa Plancher ’24 (right) with the 2024 University Relations Campus Community Leadership Award on May 16.

Big Red Buddies co-presidents win Campus-Community Leadership Awards

Through their work with the Big Red Buddies program, Alexa Plancher ’24 and Angelina Tang ’24 hoped to fill a need they saw in their shared community.

“Ithaca is a beautiful place filled with lovely people, and we as college students should take the opportunity to recognize and support that,” Tang said.

Plancher and Tang, who are co-presidents of the student-led Big Red Buddies and volunteer with other health and education community groups around Ithaca, received the 2024 University Relations Campus Community Leadership Award during a virtual ceremony May 16 while their parents, siblings and mentors watched via Zoom. Each year, University Relations recognizes one or more graduating senior for engagement with and service to the greater Ithaca area.

“Alexa and Angelina have done extraordinary work here at Cornell, and I’m grateful for the dedication and leadership they have demonstrated to our local community,” said Joel M. Malina, vice president for university relations, who presented the award.

The students, both in the College of Human Ecology, also served on the David M. Einhorn Center for Community Engagement Alumni Advisory Council.

Big Red Buddies places student-volunteers in classrooms in the Tompkins County Early Head Start and Head Start programs, which promote healthy child development and provide access to early childhood education for low-income families.

“I think that not only have they helped this program flourish, I think they’ve grown a lot as leaders,” said Bethany Resnick, Big Red Buddies adviser.

Amanda Reinard, Tompkins Community Action education specialist, said Big Red Buddies has more than 80 volunteers in classrooms throughout the week – more than ever before.

“I’m incredibly proud of what they’ve created and left, and I know that this program is going to keep growing just because of what they have left behind,” she said. “We like to call it sprinkling glitter or planting a seed, and they have planted a great seed.”

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