KEARNEY – The University of Nebraska at Kearney recently recognized students who have been strong contributors to the campus community at its annual Applauding Excellence event.
Sponsored by the Office of Student Life and Division of Student Affairs, Applauding Excellence was established in 2012 and recognizes the work and meritorious efforts of student organizations and leaders. Students are nominated for the awards by students, staff or faculty members.
Recipients in each category, with comments from their nomination and award presentation, listed below:
Kylie Kenedy, Omaha
“The recipient of this award is always seeking opportunities to help improve the overall function of her organization. She is not afraid to take on tasks, and is incredibly dedicated to everything she does. She is a member that is willing to put other’s needs above her own, and serves as a positive role model for all chapter members through her positivity and involvement. Kylie Kenedy is the secretary of Alpha Omicron Pi and is also the vice president of Programming and Social for the Panhellenic Council. She was recently selected to be a recruitment counselor for Fall 2016 recruitment. Kylie has demonstrated true leadership qualities with visible potential to continue making meaningful contributions to the UNK campus.”
Rookie of the Year
Natasha Ashley, Hastings
“This year’s recipient is truly a gem of a worker. She is a team player, exudes a positive attitude, and does her utmost to represent her office. She is motivated to do her best and it is evident that she gives it her all while performing her job. She will step up and work extra shifts if need be. She has become a trustworthy and excellent representative of her office. It is for all of these reasons and so many more that this year’s recipient is Natasha Ashley from the Thompson Scholars Learning Community.”
Community Service Program of the Year
Industrial Distribution Organization Friends Program
For several years this UNK Organization has partnered with the Friends Program as one of many opportunities for students to get involved in serving in our community. Students serve as a mentor for an elementary student, connecting with them once a week and they take part in a leisure activity such as bowling, visiting the children’s museum and going to the YMCA.
To further support the Friends program, the Industrial Distribution Organization created Toys 4-kIDOs in 2012. Now every child in the Friends Program is given a Christmas present. This past year was the largest ever, with 80 gifts purchased and wrapped. A party was hosted in the Otto Olsen Building for everyone in the Friends Program. Mentors brought their little friend for an evening of snacks, entertainment and gift opening.
Diversity Program of the Year
Queer Straight Alliance
This organization is more than deserving of this award considering their perseverance, professionalism and commitment to creating safe spaces on campus and within the organization for the LGBTQ community and their allies. After a challenging year, organization president Tiff Weekly brought the organization together and worked tirelessly to ensure each and every member was safe, informed, and knew they had a QSA community to come to if they ever needed to talk. The executive board has been building the bonds of QSA all year long, including hosting valuable training sessions to educate and empower individuals at UNK to create dialogue over how to discuss LGBTQ issues.
Evan Augustyn, Lincoln
Going the extra mile is evident in their follow through and willingness to help others. The winner of the award does not necessarily hold a leadership position within their organization but is an overall hard worker and is dedicated to the success of their group.
This student carries himself in a way that earns the respect of those around him. He is always willing to lend a hand to a member in need, whether it is with science homework or personal counseling. What he does for the house goes above and beyond his basic responsibilities as a member; he dedicates an extraordinary amount of time to the fraternity despite his hectic schedule. He brings unwavering support, a helpful attitude and humble demeanor in all that he does,
New Student Organization of the Year
From the beginning, this group wanted to make change for our First Year students, University and community. They immediately jumped in and helped the United Way with some of their fundraising campaigns, including adopting a family for Toys for Tots, where they used their own money (as the organization did not have funds yet) to provide a family with a VERY nice Christmas. They helped promote and also volunteered for hours at the First Year Programs holiday party, which was one of the reasons why the event was so successful. The group’s adviser said, “Once we became an official organization, we held elections for our officer positions, and I was overwhelmed by the amount of students who wanted to hold executive/leadership roles. They are truly invested in becoming campus leaders, and they have shown this by attending a leadership speaker together, creating a BIG Event group, having a team at the AOII Dodgeball tournament and attending other campus events that will support our group members or other campus groups.”
Outstanding Student Organization Adviser
Brette Ensz, FIRST Leaders
This outstanding advisor goes above and beyond in her duties. Her guidance has allowed numerous first-year students in her organization to break out of their shells and connect to one another. The group has benefitted greatly through her leadership, and her nominator feels she is not told enough how special she is to all of her students. Her ideas for activities and service are beyond any that I have encountered in all my involvement at UNK. She brings such a unique perspective to everything and encourages all of us to think outside the box.
Adam Ripp of Sigma Phi Epsilon, Pleasanton
The immeasurable impact this student has had on the UNK campus is unforgettable. The recipient of this award has set a precedence for who younger members should aspire to be. A quote from John Quincy Adams was used to describe this candidate: “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” This statement perfectly describes Adam’s contribution to Sigma Phi Epsilon over the past four years. He continually raises the bar of success and drives members to better themselves and the UNK campus.
Outstanding Collaborative Program
Greek Preview Day
For the first time in 15 years the members of the Panhellenic Council, Multicultural Greek Council, Interfraternity Council and Office of Undergraduate Admissions worked collaboratively to bring back Greek Preview Day. This was a day in which high school juniors and seniors could come and check out what UNK Greek Life had to offer. Individuals worked to provide sessions for attendees that included other UNK staff, faculty, advisers and students. More than 75 area high school students attended, and feedback from the event was outstanding. The councils are already working on Greek Preview Day 2017.
Student Employee of the Year
Kylie Mohling, Glenvil – America Reads Tutoring Program at Park Elementary
The year’s recipient has been one of the most reliable student employees the program has had. She will come in during unscheduled times to make sure that those she works with are being served. Her work ethic and initiative is outstanding. She is trustworthy, highly motivated and very positive about her work. She is always a professional and handles herself well.
To further the excitement, we send nominations to the state level for consideration as the State of Nebraska Student Employee of the Year. It is our pleasure to announce Kylie was also selected to receive this award.
Outstanding Student Organization
International Student Association
This organization stood out above the rest this academic year. This year there were many UNK students interested in Japanese culture, and ISA successfully implemented a bridge between Japanese and American culture. This organization performed and held several events both on campus and off campus, including the Japanese Festival, which is held annually and aims at sharing Japanese culture.
Outstanding Student Organization Leader
Miguel Baeza Aguilera, Grand Island
“Miguel has been a driving force of much of the success behind the Multicultural Greek Council. He is highly motivated and challenges other leaders to be better than they thought that they could be. He has worked extremely hard to build relationships that have been difficult in the past. He has thought critically about areas of improvement and works hard to communicate ideas and take in feedback from those ideas. I have never seen a student make a huge shift in an organization and on campus like Miguel has done this year. He has built bridges, implemented new programs and succeeded in every area. His goal has been to bring more recognition to the Multicultural Greek Council and its member chapters and instead of setting them apart, showing the community how they fit in and enhance the other aspects of our community. Chapter members of other councils have noted and admired his work, and as a result the Greek community has begun to shift and be even more inclusive.”
Staff Member of the Year
Brette Ensz, Assistant Director of First Year Program
Faculty Member of the Year
Michael Langlais, Assistant Professor in the Family Studies Department
Mary Jane and William R. Nester Leadership Awards
Recognizes senior students who have made significant contributions of leadership to the student and academic life of the University of Nebraska Kearney.
Jordanna Glock, Shelby – Molecular biology major with a psychology minor. Next year she will be attending UNMC in Omaha and beginning the cardiovascular perfusion program.
Tyson Lanka, Ogallala – Business administration major with and emphasis in finance. He has accepted a job with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation as a financial institution specialist.
Aaron McCauley, North Platte – Family studies major with a sociology minor. He is currently pursuing an opportunity to go Africa with the Peace Corps to serve as a health extension agent.
Abbey Rhodes, Kearney – Business administration major with an emphasis in economics and finance. Her post-graduation plans are to work with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation as a financial institution specialist.
Adam Ripp, Pleasanton – Political science/Spanish double major. He will be attending the University of Iowa for law school in the fall.
Mallory Ritthaler, Fremont – Exercise science/pre-physician assistant major. Her plans for next fall are to attend PA school at Union College in Lincoln.
Trevor Schramm, North Platte – Exercise science major. This fall he will be continuing his education at Southern College of Optometry in Memphis, Tenn.
Ryo Suzuki, Tokyo – Business administration major with management emphasis. He will be seeking MBA at UNK this fall.
Writer: Todd Gottula, Director of Communications, 308.865.8454, email@example.com