Austin Jacobsen, Sarah Petersen named UNK Greek Man, Woman of the Year

KEARNEY – Austin Jacobsen and Sarah Petersen are the University of Nebraska at Kearney’s Greek Man and Woman of the Year for 2019-20.

The recent UNK graduates were recognized Monday evening during the annual Fraternity and Sorority Life banquet, which was rescheduled from April because of the COVID-19 pandemic and livestreamed on Zoom to limit attendance.

Austin Jacobsen
Austin Jacobsen

A Sidney native, Jacobsen was active in Sigma Phi Epsilon throughout his time at UNK, serving as vice president of programming, vice president of membership development, Brother Mentor Challenge coordinator and chair of the fraternity’s yearly fundraiser supporting the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA), among other positions. He was also selected for Sigma Phi Epsilon’s Tragos Quest to Greece experience in 2018 and elected president of UNK’s Interfraternity Council.

Outside the fraternity, Jacobsen served as a Chancellor’s Ambassador, campus visit assistant, student ambassador for the kinesiology and sport sciences department and student leader in Campus Recreation, and he was part of the Mortar Board honor society and Men’s Project. He worked at the campus radio station, KLPR, serving as sports director for two years and earning numerous awards from the Intercollegiate Broadcasting System and Nebraska Broadcasters Association.

Jacobsen was involved in the community, as well, volunteering as a TOPSoccer and TeamMates mentor and as a counselor at an MDA summer camp.

When presenting the award, Kelsey Hassenstab, assistant director of UNK Fraternity and Sorority Life, said Jacobsen exemplifies what it means to be a leader.

“He gives his all to everything and finds ways to connect with others through his vibrant, one-of-a-kind personality,” she said.

Jacobsen graduated in May with bachelor’s degrees in sports communication and exercise science. He currently works as a news reporter and sports broadcaster for KRVN Radio in Lexington.

Hassenstab described Petersen as someone whose tremendous passion and dedication left a lasting impression on the Alpha Phi sorority and UNK as a whole.

Sarah Petersen
Sarah Petersen

“The Greek Woman of the Year should share her common values and promote leadership development, scholarship excellence and community service while enriching the lives of those around her,” Hassenstab said. “Sarah embodies all of these characteristics.”

An Omaha native, Petersen served as assistant director of new member education and co-director of sisterhood for Alpha Phi, as well as vice president of community service and president of UNK’s Panhellenic Council. She was also involved as a Pi Chi, UNK cheer squad captain and a member of the Honors Program, Order of Omega honor society and Christian Student Fellowship.

Petersen gave back in many ways, including as a counselor at Teen Reach Adventure Camp and through mission trips to Seattle and Houston.

“She led by example with everything she did, always exuded positivity and patience, and supported everyone around her,” Petersen’s nominator stated.

Petersen graduated in May with a bachelor’s degree in communication disorders. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

The average GPA for all UNK Fraternity and Sorority Life members was 3.324 in spring 2020. This includes 211 students with a GPA between 3.5 and 3.99 and 114 students who earned a perfect 4.0.

Other awards presented Monday night include:

Living the Ritual Award – Bailey Reigle, Alpha Omicron Pi

Outstanding Fraternity New Member – Landon Seibert, Sigma Phi Epsilon

Outstanding Sorority New Member – Rachel Phillips, Alpha Xi Delta

Fraternity Adviser of the Year – Marc Bailey, Phi Delta Theta

Sorority Adviser of the Year – William Aviles, Lambda Theta Nu

Outstanding Collaborative Program – Alpha Phi and Sigma Phi Epsilon, Skills for Success

Academic Excellence Award – Pi Kappa Alpha

Alumni Relations Award – Phi Delta Theta

Outstanding Community Awareness Award – Alpha Phi
Highest Panhellenic Chapter GPA – Alpha Phi (3.67)

Outstanding Faculty Relations Award – Sigma Phi Epsilon
Highest Interfraternity Chapter GPA – Sigma Phi Epsilon (3.495)

Highest Multicultural Chapter GPA – Sigma Lambda Gamma (3.73)
Highest Overall Chapter GPA – Sigma Lambda Gamma

Outstanding Risk Management – Alpha Xi Delta

Outstanding Recruitment and Retention – Delta Tau Delta

Leadership and Campus Engagement Award – Alpha Omicron Pi