In virtual ceremony on Oct. 21, Joyful Clemantine Wamariya ’09 accepted the 2020 Community Service Award, given each year to an alumna or alumnus in recognition of their service toward others.
In his opening remarks, Head of School Craig Bradley said that Hotchkiss seeks to inspire a diverse range of students who are committed to the betterment of self and society. “The recipient of this year’s Community Service Award is one such person,” he said. “She is an inspiration to us all.”
Joyful is a New York Times best-selling author and accomplished human rights advocate. Her memoir, The Girl Who Smiled Beads (2018), describes Clemantine and her sister Claire’s journey from an idyllic childhood in Rwanda up until 1994, to fleeing war conflicts and seeking refuge in eight different countries throughout Africa, to receiving refugee status in the United States in 2000.
She has continued to give to the Hotchkiss community by serving as a guest speaker to various student groups, including St. Luke’s, Bluestockings, MoCaH, BaHSA, Café, the Africa Club, and the Kucetekela Foundation.
Wamariya earned her B.A. in comparative literature from Yale, where she built her career as a compelling storyteller and a fierce advocate for the well-being of humanity. She appeared four times as a guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show and was appointed by President Barack Obama in 2016 to serve on the board of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. She continues to bring her powerful perspective to numerous organizations.
Paul Mutter ’87, vice-chair of the Alumni Association Board of Governors and the chair of the nominating committee, noted service is a common bond that has united Hotchkiss since the founding of the St. Luke’s Society in 1892.
Watch Wamariya's moving acceptance address in this replay of the ceremony.