2015 LAG-1

Ohio University President Roderick J. McDavis applauds as Zainab Kandeh and Tiarra Comer receive the John Newton Templeton Outstanding Senior Leader Award at the 32nd annual Leadership Awards Gala.

Photographer: Robin Hecker

2015 LAG-2

Members of Power Gamma receive the award for outstanding late night programming.

Photographer: Robin Hecker

2015 LAG-3

M. Hashim Pashtun addresses the crowd after receiving one of the Outstanding Graduate Student Leader Awards.

Photographer: Robin Hecker

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OHIO students, organizations honored at Leadership Awards Gala


Ohio University calls upon its students to fully immerse themselves in their college experience – to learn and to grow and, ultimately, to transform not only themselves but also the OHIO community as a whole. In a tradition that dates back to 1983, members of the OHIO community gathered earlier this week to applaud those Bobcats who have embraced that transformation process.

“The students who have been nominated tonight have done more than just hold a student leadership position on campus,” Vice President for Student Affairs Ryan Lombardi said in welcoming those who packed the Baker University Center Ballroom April 1 for the 32nd annual Leadership Awards Gala. “They have answered the call to improve themselves, our community, and to leave this place better than they found it.”

Sponsored by the Division of Student Affairs in collaboration with the Career and Leadership Development Center and Event Services, the Leadership Awards Gala is designed to highlight the outstanding work of OHIO students and student organizations.

This year’s event focused on the theme “Inspire,” with the nearly 15 awards and scholarships presented during the evening meant to recognize and encourage student leadership at the University.

“Leadership isn’t just a word; it’s an action. It’s an action that we all admire and want to be a part of,” Lombardi said. “As we acknowledge the faculty and staff who aim to inspire students, we’re quickly reminded that that inspiration often happens the other way around, where the faculty and staff are inspired by the students.”

“On this night, we have the opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments of our students, and that’s really why Ohio University exists,” Ohio University President Roderick J. McDavis said in kicking off the awards presentations. “As leaders, you exemplify the type of experience we wish for all of our students. Being a leader requires strong personal initiative. It also calls for a strong desire to make a difference.”

Noting that this year marks the 200th anniversary of Ohio University’s first Commencement ceremony, McDavis emphasized the contributions of OHIO student leaders of the past, present and future.

“Oftentimes, students don’t understand the difference they make at our University. Let me tell you, that whether you believe you’re being heard or not, we hear your voices,” McDavis said in thanking the students being honored at the event for their “hard work, motivation and passion.”

Approximately 30 OHIO students and a handful of student organizations were recognized throughout the evening for the various ways that they have transformed the Bobcat community. (See sidebar)

Among them was Diana Kenney, one of three students presented the Latino Heritage Award given to students of Latino and Hispanic descent for their significant campus and community involvement.

“It’s really inspiring to see all the people who are here for completely different reasons and who show leadership skills in their own, unique ways,” Kenney said following the ceremony. “No two people here are the same, but they are all leaders in their own right.”

The evening culminated with the announcement of this year’s Outstanding Senior Leader Awards, which are cumulative awards designed to recognize a collegiate record of leadership and service to the University and Athens communities, and the John Newton Templeton Outstanding Senior Leader Award, named in honor of the first African-American OHIO graduate.

Sarah Welch was among six OHIO students presented the Outstanding Senior Leader Award.

“It’s a huge honor to receive this award,” Welch said following the ceremony. “Everyone here is amazing, and I thought, ‘There’s no way I’m getting this.’ But then they called my name and I couldn’t be more excited.”

Leadership Awards and Scholarship Winners

The following awards and scholarships were presented at the 32nd annual Leadership Awards Gala:

Charles J. Ping International Student Leadership Award – Andrew Black (undergraduate) and Ibrahim Al-Yousef (graduate)

Stonewall Leadership Award – Camden Bailey and Nelly Herman

Women’s Issues Leadership Award – The Survivor Advocacy Program Peer Advocate Student Organization

Blackburn-Spencer Achievement Awards – Jeffrey Billingslea, Marcus Cole, Nile Harris, Michael Jones, DeJane Manuel and Joshelyn Smith

Blackburn-Spencer Scholarship Awards – Alexis Apparicio, Hannah Britton, Samantha Miller and Brenna Toth

Latino Heritage Achievement Award – Diana Kenney, Anjelica Moreno and Michelle Nelson

Francine Childs Diversity Leadership Award – John Brown

Edwin L. Kennedy Leadership Award for Outstanding Community Service (student) – Zulfa Rizqiya

Edwin L. Kennedy Leadership Award for Outstanding Community Service (organization) – Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc.

Outstanding Programming Awards – Beta Theta Pi’s “Wounded Warrior Project” (spring semester 2014); Ohio Student Education Association at the Lancaster Campus’ “Lunch and Learn” (fall semester 2014); and Power Gamma’s “I Love the Female Orgasm” (outstanding late night programming)

Kerrigan Family Scholarship Award – Tyler Daniels

The Rudy Award for Outstanding Student Leadership – Jeffrey Billingslea

Outstanding Graduate Student Awards – M. Hashim Pashtun (master’s) and Lance Poston (doctoral)

Outstanding Senior Leader Awards – Lauren Albers, Gabriella Gullia, Omar Kurdi, Katlyn Patton, Amanda Siwek and Sarah Welch

John Newton Templeton Outstanding Senior Leader Award – Tiarra Comer and Zainab Kandeh