As the 2019 Spring Semester began to move into its final weeks, representatives from across the Ohio University community met in the Baker University Center Ballroom to honor a number of students who have not only excelled in their own scholastic pursuits, but have also tirelessly worked to leave a positive impact on the OHIO community and beyond at the 36th annual Leadership Awards Gala, held on April 17.
Hosted by the OHIO Division of Student Affairs, the gala focused on the theme of empowerment, giving the event a superhero twist. Over 40 students and student organizations were honored throughout the evening. Drawn to OHIO from all over the country and beyond and with aspirations that will send them similarly across the globe, these students are united in their heroic work to better their community.
In the theme of empowerment, the night’s decorations adopted some of the familiar motifs of the superhero genre, with roving spotlights that crawled across the ballroom walls, cityscapes and familiar University skylines projected in the background and animations of Vice President for Student Affairs Jason Pina, Senior Associate Vice President and Dean of Students Jenny-Hall Jones and Rufus as their superhero counterparts, bringing a few grins to many a face in the night’s audience.
When discussing the theme, Dr. Pina highlighted a few of the moral lessons it inspires: the importance of doing things the right way rather than the easy way as well as recognizing one’s own limits rather than trying to do everything oneself.
“There are hundreds of ways to get involved on campus, and you have to say no to 99% of them because there isn’t enough time to do it all,” said Dr. Pina. “The 1% you’ve chosen to say yes to, and what you’ve done for that piece of our Bobcat community, is why we are honoring you tonight.”
Awards from nearly 20 different categories were given out in recognition of achievements in student programming, leadership among fellow students, promotion of the principles of social justice and cultural diversity, service to the community and much more. In line with the gala’s theme, award winners were gifted a “Shield of Empowerment,” specially made by Passion Works Studio, which has been a partner of the University and staple to the community. For Dr. Hall-Jones, these shields represented a badge of honor for the students’ who put their mission statement into action. See below for a complete list of award recipients.
“The Division of Student Affairs’ mission statement is: 'We care. We educate and empower. We foster inclusive communities. We make OHIO strong,'" said Dr. Hall-Jones. “Tonight’s honorees embody the legacy of empowerment that true Bobcats share. One of the traits that I am personally most proud of when speaking about our great institution and its student body is that Bobcats lift each other up.”
Such words resonated with the sentiments of Ailsa Heckscher, an OHIO undergraduate, who was one of the recipients of the Division of Student Affairs’ Student Scholarship for Excellence in the Workplace. According to Heckscher, responsibility is entwined with her conception of empowerment, driving us to do our best in both the roles we take on and, later on, in our duty to help empower those who walk behind us.
“For me, my sense of responsibility, especially as a child, was not a popular attribute to have, but as I got older it ended up being something that was in my favor, a moral compass being able to know right from wrong,” said Heckscher. “I feel like I have a sense of responsibility to make sound decisions that are going to benefit other people in the long run.”
For Heckscher, OHIO was the perfect place to foster and grow this sense of responsibility and empowerment.
“Throughout high school I was never jumping to be the head of anything or get super into an organization,” said Heckscher. “But when I came here, and especially in the College of Business, there was just this environment of support, that if you can help other students on campus, you absolutely should.”
Heckscher also shared gratitude for those she works with in the Division of Student Affairs. “They saw that I was capable of working on bigger projects and leading students, and that was something that really benefited me and gave me the opportunity to learn more about myself and my leadership style and then winning the award on top of that was just really special.”
In addition to recognizing the achievements of some of OHIO’s most promising students, the gala also saw the announcement of undergraduate student Justin Kelly to serve OHIO’s student population as the next Student Trustee on the Board of Trustees. Selected by governor Mike DeWine, Kelley will be responsible for voicing student concerns and views on campus issues as well as working as a liaison between the board and OHIO’s student population during his two-year term.
“As members of the board, [student trustees] bring a unique student perspective, but are responsible for the well-being of the entire Ohio University community,” said OHIO President M. Duane Nellis. “Members of the board and former student trustees would tell you that a student trustee should be a dynamic person, someone who is self-motivated and has a strong desire to serve.”
President Nellis’ closing remarks highlighted the true purpose of the evening— recognizing and celebrating not just the students who crossed the stage that day, but those they would in turn empower and inspire, and in doing so, make the community around them, whether that be Athens, OHIO or elsewhere, a better place to be.
“In every discipline, in every residence hall, in every academic college, each and every day, there emerges a leader who will go out into the world and make it a better place,” said President Nellis. “Whether it is personal, professional, local or global, our Bobcats are making an impact on the world around them.”
CHARLES J. PING INTERNATIONAL STUDENT LEADERSHIP AWARDS- VIKTORIA MARINOVA, CARLA TRIANA, TRAM NGUYEN
STONEWALL STUDENT LEADERSHIP AWARD- MOSS NASH
STONEWALL GROUP LEADERSHIP AWARD- SHADES
WOMEN’S ISSUES LEADERSHIP AWARD- MALLORY GOLSKI
BLACKBURN SPENCER SCHOLARSHIP AWARDS- TATIANA FARMER, EDEN TADESSE, BRIANNA MCELRATH
BLACKBURN SPENCER ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS- NANA AGYEKUM , DEJAE’NAYE WILKINS, ALEXANDRIA MADRY, ALANA CORNELIUS, LEXI WELLS
LATINO HERITAGE ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS- ROSA AVIÑA, ERIKA HIDALGO, JESSICA JIMENEZ
FRANCINE CHILDS DIVERSITY LEADERSHIP AWARD- EARL HOPKINS
EYES OF FREEDOM SCHOLARSHIP AWARD- SARA ST. PETER
EDWIN L. KENNEDY COMMUNITY SERVICE AWARDS- ISA ARANTES, BSN ORGANIZATION
OUTSTANDING PROGRAMMING AWARDS- SPRING 2018 − AIESEC IN OHIO; FALL 2018 − INTERNATIONAL STUDENT UNION; SPRING 2019 − STUDENT ATHLETE ADVISORY COMMITTEE
OUTSTANDING STUDENT ORGANIZATION ADVISOR AWARD- TODD SIMMONS
KERRIGAN FAMILY SCHOLARSHIP AWARD- COURTNEY ARCHIBALD
THE RUDY AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING STUDENT LEADERSHIP- SUE-YEON RYU
DIVISION OF STUDENT AFFAIRS ACADEMIC EXCELLENCE SCHOLARSHIPS- GRACIE BEHA, KYLEE DEAN, COLLIN SHARPE
DIVISION OF STUDENT AFFAIRS EXCELLENCE IN THE WORKPLACE SCHOLARSHIPS- AILSA HECKSCHER, CODY HUEBNER, SAMANTHA OWENS, KATELYN PEACOCK
OUTSTANDING GRADUATE STUDENT LEADER AWARDS- TODD SIMMONS, NESTOR AVILA
OUTSTANDING SENIOR LEADER AWARDS- AMI SCHERSON, DYLAN DENNER, FAYE SLOMA, MALLORY GOLSKI, CELESTIA HATHHORN, JASMYN PEARL, ZACHARY REIZES, IMANI EVANS*
*JOHN NEWTON TEMPLETON OUTSTANDING SENIOR LEADER DESIGNATION