By SARA GIBONEY
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:
Outstanding Student Organization Advisor
Jayne Heimer – Japanese Association at Kearney
“This outstanding advisor has dedicated over a decade of time to advising a successful UNK student organization. She is gifted with an ability to make friends, and help others do the same – all while keeping culture and inclusion at the top of her priority list. Jayne Heimer is uniquely qualified to advise the Japanese Association at Kearney. She has lived in and taught English in Japan, speaks fluent Japanese and Spanish, and is a world traveler who has been throughout North America, Europe, the Far East, Middle East, and Australia. Over breaks and weekends, Jayne plans and joins international students on trips to see America. Her personal home and kitchen are always welcome to International students so they can prepare their food. She is an advocate of helping American students foster relationships with International students and her biggest goal is to make all students feel like they belong at UNK.”
Diversity Program of the Year
Multicultural Greek Council
“The recipient of this year’s award managed to strategically plan an incredibly successful and educational event. This fall, the Multicultural Greek Council hosted a Stroll Competition for multicultural Greek chapters. Each of the four multicultural Greek chapters on campus were represented at this competition, where they showcased pride for their organization by strolling – moving together in a line expressing unique and distinct movements utilizing their individual organizations call, sign, historical information or custom dances. The council was effective in educating members within, as well as outside of the Multicultural Greek community, and acquired outstanding attendance. This event was unique and truly collaboratively planned between the entire MGC Executive board.”
Community Service Program of the Year
Sigma Phi Epsilon Muscle Walk
“This student organization has managed to host this annual event to successfully raise nearly $46,000 in the past four years. This year, however, the recipient of this award deserves to be recognized for the creative restructure of the event itself. In year’s past, the Sigma Phi Epsilon Muscle Walk has taken place in Cushing Coliseum on campus. This year, the event was revamped and switched to an ice-skating event, which featured carnival games that tied the purpose back to the reason for raising funds. The event was open to students and community members looking to support MDA. The Muscular Dystrophy Association is a nonprofit organization that operates in Nebraska and assists children and families affected by muscular dystrophy. In addition to raising funds and awareness for this cause, Sigma Phi Epsilon also promoted and secured volunteer positions for a summer camp for children diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy.”
Outstanding Collaborative Program
GAMMA + Order of Omega – Bystander Intervention Training
“Collaboration between student organizations is imperative when planning extensive and critical programs. This spring, Fraternity and Sorority life hosted their second annual ‘Bystander Intervention’ training. This year was unique, as two student organizations, Order of Omega and Greeks Advocating for the Mature Management of Alcohol, partnered to make this year’s program much more engaging. Students from GAMMA and Order of Omega reenacted scenes from parties and other social situations that involved alcohol and hazing. Attending students were guided through these scenes and received valuable knowledge by being able to see and identify situations first hand. The program’s objective was to give students confidence to intervene in a potentially dangerous situation.”
Outstanding Organization Leader
Miranda Smith – Council on Family Relations (Norfolk)
“The recipient of this award has shown a sincere commitment to her organization from the very beginning. This individual planned each meeting both on and off campus, selected exceptional speakers for events, and organized a variety of opportunities for students to volunteer within the community. As a result of her hard work and dedication, the organizations membership tripled since last year! Miranda Smith, President for the Council on Family Relations, consistently motivates her fellow organization members to get involved in a variety of ways. She coordinated multiple volunteer events, encouraged members to join the FRIENDS program, coordinated CFR involvement with the Big Event, and also led a fundraising campaign this year that is allowing the Council on Family Relations members to take a trip to Omaha to visit with potential employers and internship sites.”
Katie Benner – UNK Panhellenic Council (Central City)
“The recipient of this award has not only successfully completed her assigned tasks in her role but has also expanded her responsibilities on her own accord. She works incredibly hard to accomplish these new tasks and all the while does it authentically. Benner is the Vice President of Public Relations for the UNK Panhellenic Council. In the first week of her term, she designed council promotions and had them completed for a total of $4. She has worked on innovative ways to recognize Panhellenic women, introducing the “PAN”Hellenic award, which is a traveling, decorated pan passed around to women who deserve recognition. She encourages members to share photos highlighting various aspects of Greek Life and has a genuine interest of demonstrating and advocating what Fraternity and Sorority Life at UNK has to offer. Katie has displayed true leadership qualities with visible potential to continue making meaningful contributions to the UNK campus.”
Student Employee Rookie of the Year
Jose Francisco-Andres (Lexington)
“This year’s recipient is truly a gem of a worker. He goes above and beyond in many ways. This student is a leader through his words, dress, actions, and how he carries himself. He has set himself up to be a great role model for all of the young children he works with. When the unexpected happens he is ready with a response of ‘How can I help?’ He works to help instill a growth mindset attitude of the students he works with. It is for all of these reasons and so many more that this year’s Rookie of the Year recipient is Jose Francisco-Andres, employed by Northeast Elementary.”
Outstanding Student Employee Community Service
Jasmine Thompson (Grand Island)
“The student receiving the award for Outstanding Campus Service has earned this through and through. This student is extremely invested in the work that is being done within the organization and it shows in the execution of duties. This student works tirelessly and always puts in 110 percent. She eagerly immerses herself into projects and was responsible for the upgrade of the organization’s website. She carries herself as a young professional with all parties she works. Her employer said that she is a perfect example of a UNK Student that is making a difference.”
Outstanding Student Employee for UNK Service
Kolten Harshbarger (Kearney)
“This student has gone above and beyond his traditional role in the office. When his supervisor passed away, this student stepped up and become a great leader among his fellow student co-workers. He rose to a difficult challenge in less than an ideal situation, but he persevered knowing the right thing to do. This student has a bright mind, great attention to detail, hunger for new knowledge and the drive for excellence.”
Student Employee of the Year
Miranda Heeren (Juanita)
“Assessing skills such as hard work, a positive attitude, and a great knowledge base is merely the beginning of what it takes to be nominated for this award. To be selected as the recipient requires more. When working with clients in our office, this student conducts herself with the utmost professionalism. She is patient and is genuinely a sincere when answering questions. This student is the first to volunteer when there are extra projects or evening presentations. She brings a positive, can-do attitude when she comes to work and enjoys all aspects of what she does. As the most experienced Student employee in the office, she has trained many other students and done a terrific job.”
Outstanding Student Organization
GAMMA (Greeks Advocating for the Mature Management of Alcohol)
“The Outstanding Student Organization Award is a coveted honor and always a difficult selection. This year’s award recipient goes to an organization that has a heavy message to address – the dangers of harmful drinking in college students. Greeks Advocating for the Mature Management of Alcohol were creative and innovative with their methods this year. From reconstructing their intervention strategies on how to be an effective bystander, to visiting chapters to initiate peer-to-peer conversations that opened doors to solutions on the awareness of alcohol consumption in college students, GAMMA took advantage of every opportunity to educate and prepare UNK students. They also hosted an Alcohol Awareness Week full of activities and resources and continue to promote the UNK Safe Ride program across campus.”
Miranda Heeren – National Residence Hall Honorary (Juniata)
“The recipient of this year’s Unsung Hero award has made significant contributions to UNK and often does not receive the recognition she deserves. Miranda Heeren has been involved with the National Residence Hall Honorary for several years while holding several positions. Currently, she works with marketing, recognition and residence hall appreciation – which is an entire week spent by NRHH recognizing the impact others are making to the residence halls. In the words of her nominator, “Miranda goes out of her way to ensure that others are appreciated for what they do for our students. She is one of those unique people that empowers others to shine brightly. It is now time that we turn the spotlight towards her, and recognize all her contributions to campus.”
Luke Grossnicklaus – Sigma Phi Epsilon (Aurora)
“The immeasurable impact this student has had on the UNK campus is unforgettable. The recipient of this award has held a leadership position during his entire tenure of his fraternity chapter. Those positions include President, Vice President of Communications, Social Chair and new member class president. Luke Grossnicklaus has had extensive involvement in multiple aspects in addition to Sigma Phi Epsilon, including Student diplomat, IFC President, Order of Omega member, Phi Eta Sigma, GAMMA and UNK Men’s Golf. In the words of his nominator, “Luke is one of the finest members our chapter has produced. His positive attitude and work ethic are infectious. His commitment and dedication to UNK, Fraternity and Sorority Life, and Sigma Phi Epsilon have left a legacy for many other students to emulate.”
Nester Student Leadership Awards
This award recognizes outstanding seniors who have excelled academically and have demonstrated service, character and leadership during their careers at the University of Nebraska at Kearney.
Garrett Arnold – Exercise Science/Pre-Chiropractic major from Cody, WY.
He is an active member of the Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity and has been the Community Service Chairman, Executive Vice President, and Chapter President. He has also been the New Member Educator and the Philanthropy Chairman. Garrett is also active in UNK Track and Field, Phi Eta Sigma, the UNK Interfraternity Council and has been on the Dean’s list for several semesters. He will be attending the Palmer College of Chiropractic in Port Orange, Fla., and will be moving there after he spends the summer volunteering for his fraternity.
Elaine Christensen – Theatre major from Kearney with a 3.9 GPA
She was recently recognized as an Outstanding Senior for the Theatre Department, Best Supporting Actress, and received the Outstanding Newcomer Award from Alpha Psi Omega during her sophomore year. She is also involved in the Honor’s Program, Undergraduate Research, and Alpha Psi Omega, where she has been the Vice President and President.
Rachel Flaugh – Chemistry/Health Science/Pre-Med major from Hartington with a 4.0 GPA
Rachel has been involved in numerous organizations on campus, including Mortar Board, National Residence Hall Honorary and Phi Eta Sigma. She was also a Gold Torch Society member, Chancellor’s Student Ambassador, Student Diplomat, and former UNK Student Body President/Nebraska Board of Regents Student Regent. She has been honored four times as an Outstanding Chemistry Student, was an Omaha World-Herald/Kearney Hub Scholarship Recipient, and helped tutor chemistry for the UNK Learning Commons. Upon graduation, Rachel will attend medical school at Harvard Medical School. Her intent is to pursue a surgical or emergency medicine specialty while obtaining a dual degree in public health or public policy. This summer, Rachel plans to intern in Washington, D.C. with Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse and backpack through Europe with a group of UNK friends.
Kylie Kenedy – Exercise Science Major from Kearney.
She is a member of the UNK Swim Team, Student Athlete Advisory Committee and participates in undergraduate research. She is also the current Panhellenic Council President and has been a Student Diplomat for two years. Upon graduation, Kylie will attend graduate school to complete her doctorate in occupational therapy.
Joshua Lallman –Biology Comprehensive major from Omaha with a 3.9 GPA
During his collegiate career, he has been a member of Phi Eta Sigma, Mortar Board, and the Loper basketball team. He has also been a Student Diplomat, New Student Enrollment Leader, and is a member of the UNK Honors Program. Josh has held numerous leadership positions, including Chancellor’s Student Ambassador Coordinator, Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity President, and an Undergraduate Research Fellow. He is also an Omaha World-Herald/Kearney Hub Scholar, was the 2016 Outstanding Chapter Leader for Fraternity & Sorority Life, and a member of the 2015 Homecoming Royalty. He plans to conduct clinical research on adverse events related to opioid use at UNMC this summer, and will attend UNMC Medical School in the fall to continue his pursuit of one day becoming a physician.
Beth Morris – Psychobiology/Pre-Med major from Aurora.
She has held several leadership positions with the Alpha Phi sorority, including Chapter President and Director of Finance. She has been a member of the KHOP program, Honors Program, Friend’s Mentoring Program and Health Science Club all four years at UNK. Beth is also a member of Phi Eta Sigma, Mortar Board, and is a Chancellor’s Student Ambassador. She has also been on the dean’s list every semester.
Annie Wolfe –Business Administration major from Omaha.
She is the co-founder of Loper Loonies, a member of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee and has helped coach UNK Volleyball camps the past four years. She is also a member of the UNK volleyball team and has been the captain for two years. In 2016, Annie was awarded the Division II AVCA National Player of the Year award, as well as the MIAA Player of the Year. Upon graduation, she plans to pursue a career in business administration and supply chain management in Omaha.