Wednesday, April 23, 2014

University of New Orleans Honors Student Leaders

Student leaders were honored Tuesday at the University of New Orleans, where the Office of Student Involvement and Leadership handed out key awards at an annual leadership ceremony.

"To those who will be graduating in a few weeks, we thank you for your contribution to UNO," undergraduate student Whitney Marshall said on behalf of the University's Leadership Cabinet, which helps to develop leaders all over campus. "As you walk across that stage, we want you to realize what a difference you made at your alma mater though your campus involvement. And to those who will be returning, we hope you remain involved and we hope you have a great summer."

The Thirtieth Annual Leadership Recognition Ceremony at UNO was designed to recognize student leaders who have demonstrated leadership, commitment and success throughout the year, said Dale O'Neill, director of Student Involvement and Leadership. The evening recognized more than 140 student leaders from various organizations and departments and honored the University's most outstanding student leaders with the Student Leader for Community Service Award, Outstanding Event of the Year Award, Organization President of the Year Award, Advisor of the Year Award, Organization of the Year Award, Ambassador Scholarship Recipients and, the Edgar E. Burks Memorial, the most prestigious student leadership award on campus.

Marshall, who served this year as recognition chair for the University Student Leadership Cabinet, and Luis Murillo, another member of the Leadership Cabinet, served as hosts of the event, which is designed to "honor outstanding student leaders at UNO – those who have dedicated their time and energy to improve the quality of campus life," Murillo said.

UNO Student Government President Brandan Bonds gave the events opening address while Interim Provost Dr. Rich Hansen delivered opening remarks before all those present watched a video presentation created by student leader, Jordan Fontenot, that illustrated some of the many activities that took place over the past year.

Edgar E. Burks Memorial Award

The Edgar E. Burks Memorial Award is the leadership award presented by Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, said Kevin Graves, dean of the College of Liberal Arts. Students are nominated for this prestigious award by faculty and administration. A selection committee then reviews all nominations based on leadership ability, contribution to the campus and the community, the quality of the nomination letters and GPA.

"The committee members expressed their difficulty in selecting the recipient of this year's Burks Award because of the quality of the student leaders who were nominated," said Graves. "We had an overwhelming number of nominees this year for this prestigious award."

Seven nominees included: Brandan Bonds, Cory Lang, Kelsey Matthews, Tesla Medina Berrios, Emily Srofe, and Edie Tally. Each received a certificate.

"When our Burks Award Winner first arrived at UNO, he had a simple plan in mind: wanting to leave this university better than what it was," said Graves. "The experiences that he has had in event planning, leadership and student development has allowed him to obtain real-world experience that can be utilized in any career.

"He is an undergraduate student, who is currently a member of the Student Government, serving as President, and a member of the Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity, serving as House Manager and Standards Chairman," the dean continued. "In past years, he has served on the UNO Ambassadors, UNO Leadership Cabinet, UNO Orientation Leaders, and Krewe Leaders for Privateer Camp. Using the leadership skills he has gained, he hopes that he has inspired students to do all that they can to make a difference in the community around them, be it great or small, for the good of this institution, and the world as a whole."

Brandan Bonds, Student Government president, received the University's Edgar E. Burks Memorial Award, the most prestigious award on campus given to student leaders.

Student Leader for Community Service Award

The Student Leader for Community Service Award recognizes a student leader who has demonstrated outstanding volunteerism in the community. Students who were nominated for this award, include: Katelynn Breaux, Amber Jones, Megan Mazzochette, and Catherine Wilkinson.

In presenting the award, Dean Graves said that the recipient has been involved within her church community since she was 13 and began teaching CCD classes at Our Lady of Prompt Stuccor in eighth grade.

"Not only is she extremely involved in the community, but she still manages to be a full time student, a member of Sigma Kappa Sorority, and have a job," Graves said.

The 2014 Student Leader for Community Service is Katelynn Breaux.

Outstanding Event of the Year Award

The Outstanding Event of the Year Award was established to recognize the most defining event of the year and to highlight organizations which have helped to create a higher standard for student life at the university.

This year's nominees included: Big Gay Talent Show, UNITY; Mardi Gras Speed Networking Event, Society of Women Engineers (UNOSWE); Paper Lantern Night, Vietnamese American Student Association; Swampball, UNO Ambassadors; Watermelon Bust, Lambda Chi Alpha; Rent-A-Puppy, Transfer Student Organization; and Batting Out Breast Cancer, Zeta Tau Alpha.

"The purpose of our 2014 award winning event was to get dogs and puppies from local animal shelters to get some loving from UNO Students," said Dean Graves. "...Over 100 students participated in this event by either renting puppies to play with or buying treats to give them. This event raised over $300 for their organization."

The 2014 Outstanding Event of the Year is Rent-A-Puppy sponsored by the Transfer Student Organization.

Organization President of the Year Award

The Organization President of the Year Award was created at the request of student leaders, with the intent of recognizing an organization president's outstanding service.

This year's nominees include: Yesenia Bodden, American Hotel and Lodging Association; Tristen Kade, UNITY-UNO; Tara Pence, Sigma Kappa;Kelsey Matthews,Ambassadors; Amber J Brooks, Secular Student Alliance; Jamie Blanch, Transfer Student Organization; Shaniqua Casey, Service Coalition; Garrett Stapp, Lambda Chi Alpha; Edgar Avila Jr.,Theta Xi; and Bailli Fontenot, Zeta Tau Alpha.

"This award recipient leads by example in order to encourage her organization to be involved and to represent the university in a positive light," said Dean Graves. "This individual is intricately involved in many of the decisions made about events, procedures, and other important pieces of her organization, including considering what is best for general members and the future of the organization."

The 2014 Organization President of the Year is Kelsey Matthews.

Advisor of the Year Award

"Advisors play an essential role in the success of our student organizations," said Shaniqua Casey, a student leader who presented the award. "They serve as mentors, team builders, conflict mediators, reflective agents, motivators and educators. These advisors continually support us and challenge us to grow."

This year's nominees included: Michael Hoffshire,UNITY-UNO; Malay Ghose Hajra, Engineers Without Borders; Marco Perez, Lambda Chi Alpha; Christy Heaton, Vietnamese American Student Association; Karen Trundle Lundy, International Student Organization; and Caleigh Keith, Transfer Student Organization.

"This award recipient has been an outstanding advisor to his organization, by providing guidance, advice, and leadership to the members," said Casey in presenting the award. "He has helped out in many difficult situations, giving the gift of his fraternal expertise to their highly active chapter, and helping members to realize and reach their full potential."

The 2014 Advisor of the Year is Marco Perez, general manager of Lakefront Arena and advisor to the UNO chapter of Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity. Perez is a proud alumnus of UNO and Lambda Chi.

Organization of the Year Award

The 140-plus student organizations on campus truly enhance the spirit and sense of community at UNO, said Dean Graves.

"We have professional, social, diversity-oriented, political, honorary, service, activist and special interest organizations," he said. "With an array of organizations, all students have the opportunity to join a group that reflects their interests."

This year's nominees included: Sigma Kappa, UNITY-UNO, Ambassadors, Vietnamese American Student Association, Delta Zeta, College of Business Executive Council (CBEC), Lambda Chi Alpha, International Student Organization, and Transfer Student Organization.

Two outstanding organizations showed exceeding work, said Graves. One is University funded and the other is a registered student organization.

"This University Funded Organization of the Year helps promote a strong and positive image by representing the University of New Orleans to the campus, community, and beyond. They also serve the UNO community by providing current students with scholarship opportunities," Graves said.

The 2014 University Funded Organization of the Year is the UNO Ambassadors.

"The Chartered Student Organization of the Year has a purpose to enlighten their members as well as the UNO student body and its surrounding communities about the rich Vietnamese culture and traditions," said Graves. "They do this through hosting cultural events on campus, as well as participating in cultural events around New Orleans."

The 2014 Chartered Student Organization of the Year is the Vietnamese Asian Student Association, one of the largest student organizations on campus.