Tuesday, April 24, 2013

A Night of Stars: University of New Orleans Recognizes Student Leaders

More than 300 members of the University of New Orleans community turned out on Tuesday for the University's 28th Annual Student Leadership Ceremony, held in the University Center ballroom.

"The special night recognizes student leaders who have made a difference on the UNO campus," said Dale Malter O'Neill, coordinator of student involvement and leadership programs at UNO.

Vice President of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management Brett Kemker, Dean of Student Affairs Pam Rault and other special guests spoke at the ceremony. Highlights of the evening included the presentation of the student recognition awards, Organization of the Year Award, Adviser of the Year Award, Student Leader for Community Service award, Outstanding Event Award and the Edgar E. Burks Memorial Award.

The Edgar E. Burks Memorial Award

The Edgar E. Burks Memorial Award is the highest honor conferred by Student Affairs. The award recognizes one student's outstanding leadership and service to the University.

Deborah "Debbie" Nunes, who has served three years on the UNO Leadership Cabinet for three years, received the award this year. Nominees described Nunes as "an intelligent, hardworking, and dedicated individual who strives to succeed," adding that "her passions and desire inspires others, and her loyalty and leadership skills are exceptional. She follows through on her commitments to others and her education."

Nunes co-founded the University's Genshiken Anime Club, an organization that aims to explore Japanese culture through Japanese style animation and manga; the Nippon Japanese Culture Club, which aims to promote Japanese culture with presentations, excursions, and activities, and the Community of Interdisciplinary Studies at UNO.

"She is the type of leader who makes a difference behind the scenes," said O'Neill. "With all that she has accomplished, never does she request recognition, nor does she ask to be in the limelight, nor does she wear her accomplishments on her sleeve."

Also among the top three finalists for the "Burks Award" were student leaders Blake Edwards and Laura Siu.

Edwards, who is a UNO Ambassador, UNO Orientation Leader, UNO Cheerleader, member of the UNO Swim Team and a former Krewe Leader, as well as a student worker in the Office of Communications, Public Relations and Marketing, was described in his nomination as "a bright, serious-minded student that excels in virtually everything he attempts," and "a major force among the student campus leaders here at the University of New Orleans."

Siu, who is Student Government President at UNO, has served as a UNO Orientation Leader, Leadership Cabinet member, Peer Mentor and member of the Vietnamese American Student Association, Alpha Epsilon Delta and Tri Beta Biological Honor Society. She was applauded on Tuesday for her "enthusiasm," "zest for life," "incredible energy level" and "positive attitude that is motivating to those around her," as well as for holding "extremely high expectations for herself" and pushing herself "to the limit to excel."

Nominees noted that Siu "expects a lot from those around her but is very accepting and non-judgmental of others. She really just lights up a room when she enters."

Organization President of the Year

This year's award for Organization President of the Year went to David S. Aul, president of Alpha Epsilon Delta Honor Society. Aul established and facilitated workshops to assist organization members to in the medical school application process. He also helped to schedule speakers from other institutions, such as the LSU Health Sciences Center, and was noted for "selflessly" volunteering his personal time to help others.

Organization of the Year

The University's Latin American Student Association, which works to encourage and support the integration of Latin America and Latino students into the University of New Orleans and the Greater New Orleans, received the UNO Organization of the Year Award.

The organization has been "bridging cultures since 2001," hosting numerous events that promote UNO and showcase the organization's cultural heritage, as well as the University's rich diversity, O'Neill said. Spotlight moments include: International Night, Latino Night, cultural café, Rumba Party, organizational fairs and more.

Adviser of the Year

Marco Perez, who is general manager of the UNO Lakefront Arena, a UNO alumnus and adviser to his former fraternity, won the UNO Adviser of the Year Award.

"If there is one thing this adviser has taught us, it's to give back to others," wrote members of Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity. "This adviser strives to make sure his organization's members have just as much school spirit and pride as he does. He makes sure we go to as many UNO events as possible and will do anything to make sure we have a good showing. This is a man that truly cares about his chapter and the University of New Orleans. Marco Perez has been the adviser of our chapter for almost 20 years. He is a proud UNO alumnus, as well as an Alumni brother of our chapter here at the university."

Outstanding Event of the Year

Now in its 13th season, Swampball was named the University's Outstanding Event of the Year. The mud volleyball event hosted annually by the UNO Ambassadors raises money for student scholarships.

Student Leader Award for Community Service

The UNO Student Leader Award for Community Service went to Madison Wright.

"With a sunny and helpful personality, this person spends numerous hours a week working in the library helping patrons check books in and out and shelving books," said O'Neill. "She takes it on herself as well to create and post signs to alert patrons of library hours. This nominee goes above and beyond for the UNO Children's and Young Adult Library."

Student Leadership Recognition Awards

Amanda McGilvray on behalf of Delta Zeta Sorority and Fred Johnson IV on behalf of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity received Student Leadership Recognition Awards.