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2018 Leadership Awards Gala celebrates Bobcats who are ‘leading with passion’ (PHOTOS)

Sophomore business economics, entrepreneurship major announced as new student trustee


Members of the Ohio University community gathered the evening of April 18 for an annual event that celebrates students who exemplify the mission of the University, who are discovering their potential and who are leaving a legacy, both at OHIO and in the local community.

“In many ways, Ohio University’s legacy is a tribute to generations of student leaders who have paved our 200-year existence,” Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Jenny Hall-Jones said in welcoming a sold-out Baker University Center Ballroom to OHIO’s 35th annual Leadership Awards Gala. “We are who we are because students through time led with passion. And this tradition continues with you, our 2018 Leadership Award recipients. We are beyond excited to share your stories and reward your leadership tonight.”

Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Jenny Hall-Jones kicks off the 2018 Leadership Awards Gala held Wednesday, April 18, in the Baker University Center Ballroom.

Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Jenny Hall-Jones kicks off the 2018 Leadership Awards Gala held Wednesday, April 18, in the Baker University Center Ballroom. Dr. Hall-Jones recognized several distinguished guests, including former Dean of Students Terry Hogan and former Vice President for Student Affairs Mike Sostarich. 

Sponsored by OHIO’s Division of Student Affairs, the Leadership Awards Gala honors students for their academic achievements as well as for the myriad ways in which they immerse themselves in their home away from home through campus and community involvement, service and leadership.

Passion Works Studio provided all of the decorations for the event and made both the decorations and other custom-made items available for sale before and after the ceremony.

Passion Works Studio, which partnered with OHIO’s Division of Student Affairs on this year’s Leadership Awards Gala, provided all of the decorations for the event and made both the decorations and other custom-made items available for sale before and after the ceremony. All the money raised went toward the continued impact of Passion Works Studio.

The theme of this year’s celebration was “Leading with Passion” – a theme that could be seen and felt throughout the evening, thanks to a partnership with Passion Works Studio, an Athens-based collaborative community art center that encourages people of all abilities to work and thrive within partnership. The Baker University Center Ballroom was bursting with color and Passion Works art, including large balloon installations and Passion Flowers, the official flower of Athens, which adorned each of the venue’s tables.

Vice President for Student Affairs Jason Pina noted that in seeking an event partner the gala planning committee immediately thought of Passion Works Studio, an entity, he said, that exemplifies leading with passion. When the studio was founded 20 years ago this year, it was considered a trailblazer in creating an integrated setting where people were encourage to investigate their individual talents and passions while participating in community-based programming that provided employment options.

Dr. Pina shared three stories that come to mind when he thinks about leading with passion, Passion Works Studio and Ohio University, which, in his first story, he compared to the Vidalia onion. Like any other onion, the Vidalia onion starts as a No. 6 yellow onion seed, but when planted only in Vidalia, Georgia, develops into the sweet Vidalia onion.

“There are over 5,000 colleges and universities in this country, just like ours,” Dr. Pina said. “But something is different when our students come to the bricks, when staff and faculty and administrators commit their professional lives to working at Ohio University. What we produce, what we say and how we say it – that is our Vidalia onion.”

Vice President for Student Affairs Jason Pina, sporting a Passion Works-made boutonniere, shares with the audience some thoughts on the theme of the 35th annual Leadership Awards Gala, “Leading with Passion.”

Vice President for Student Affairs Jason Pina, sporting a Passion Works-made pocket square, shares with the audience some thoughts on the theme of the 35th annual Leadership Awards Gala, “Leading with Passion.”

Dr. Pina also shared how he was first introduced to Passion Works Studio and the Passion Flower – two years ago during one of his first few days at Ohio University when he sat in on a presentation Dr. Hall-Jones was delivering at Bobcat Student Orientation. Dr. Hall-Jones urged incoming Bobcats at that presentation to not leave Ohio University without knowing why the Passion Flower is the official flower of Athens. Several weeks later and shortly after moving his family more than 700 miles to Athens, Dr. Pina purchased a Passion Flower for his wife, Shae, for her birthday.

“When we have visitors who aren’t from Ohio come to our house, she always talks about the Passion Flower,” Dr. Pina said. “It was one of the moments that made me know that we’re at home, that made me know that she’s already falling in love with Athens, Ohio, just like me.”

Dr. Pina thanked Passion Works; its founder and director, Patty Mitchell; and several of its artists who were in attendance for “20 years of making Athens more beautiful and the world more beautiful” before an introducing a video that highlighted the mission and work of the studio. In the video, Mitchell noted the work the studio has been doing with Ohio University since its very beginning and how the studio provides Bobcats an opportunity to be a part of the community and to make a difference.

In kicking off the awards presentation portion of the evening, Dr. Hall-Jones noted that many of the night’s award winners would be receiving custom-made pendants designed by Passion Works instead of the traditional plaques and certificates.

Geneva Murray, director of OHIO’s Women’s Center, presents Madison Sloat a Passion Works-made pendant.

Geneva Murray, director of OHIO’s Women’s Center, presents Madison Sloat a Passion Works-made pendant. Sloat was one of two recipients of this year’s Women’s Issues Leadership Awards, recognizing students or student organizations that show extraordinary leadership on campus or in the community in making women and girls full and equal participants in higher education and in life. Sloat is a communication studies major in OHIO’s Honors Tutorial College and was recently elected president of Student Senate. 

More than 40 Ohio University students and five student organizations received awards and scholarships in nearly 20 award categories. (See sidebar for a complete list of award recipients.) Among those categories were awards focusing on leadership activities that support OHIO’s mission of diversity, inclusion and globalization, as well as awards that highlight community action, service and engagement. Each presentation highlighted not only the recipient’s contributions to date but also the ways in which they hope to make a difference in the years to come.

Isa Arantes, a first-year student majoring in environmental and plant biology, was one of three students presented this year’s Latino Heritage Achievement Award and was applauded for her passion for helping others. In addition to working with the Gathering Place, a community program in Athens that provides support for adults coping with mental illness, Arantes was recently recognized by the Ohio Program of Intensive English (OPIE) with its International Cultural Understanding Certificate.

“What I’m really going to take away from tonight is how much people care and the many ways that they show they care,” Arantes said. “That means a lot because that is kind of what keeps you going, and it sparks a fire in me to give back.”

With the scholarship money Arantes received from the award, she plans to travel to Nicaragua where she will be helping citizens rebuild from a devastating 2014 earthquake. Arantes will be working with GIVE volunteers to help build eco-friendly homes and schools.

Cutler Scholar Zachary Reizes, a junior majoring in war and peace studies who serves on Student Senate as the Center for International Studies senator and sits on the President’s Committee for Student Accessibility, was presented the Rudy Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Student Leadership. Reizes’ award presentation noted his efforts in raising more than $4,300 on his 21st birthday for the Women for Recovery, a Southeast Ohio nonprofit working to establish the first female-only addiction recovery home in the region.

“I’m very excited,” Reizes said after receiving the award, noting his love for Passion Works and calling his Passion Works-made award a blessing. 

“I’ve found a place here at Ohio University where I feel like I can support a community that needs the University here,” Reizes said. “There’s a real symbiotic relationship, and you don’t get that everywhere. Chicago would be fine without the four universities that are there, but Southeast Ohio would not be the same without Ohio University, and I think Ohio University is made so much better for being in Southeast Ohio.”

Reizes encouraged his fellow Bobcats to venture beyond campus and out into the community. 

“It’s amazing out there, and you’ll be greeted with open arms,” he said.

Ohio University President M. Duane Nellis, attending his first Leadership Awards Gala with First Lady Ruthie Nellis, presented the final awards of the evening, the Outstanding Senior Leader Awards and the John Newton Templeton Outstanding Senior Leader Award. One of OHIO’s highest honors, the Outstanding Senior Leader Awards are cumulative and bestowed annually upon the University’s most distinguished student leaders for their overall leadership and service to Ohio University and the Athens community.

Ohio University President M. Duane Nellis presents Joselyn Hines, a psychology/pre-medicine major, the 2018 John Newton Templeton Outstanding Senior Leader Award given in honor of the first African-American student to graduate from Ohio University in 1828

Ohio University President M. Duane Nellis presents Joselyn Hines, a psychology/pre-medicine major, the 2018 John Newton Templeton Outstanding Senior Leader Award given in honor of the first African-American student to graduate from Ohio University in 1828. Hines was recognized for simultaneously serving as the president of Anointed Ministries and of the Minority Association of Pre-Health Students, which she worked to re-charter. She is also the sergeant-at-arms of OHIO’s Health Promotion Committee and chairperson and chaplin of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc.-Delta Phi Chapter. 

“In every discipline, in every residence hall, in every academic college, each and every day, there emerges a leader who will go out into the world and make it a better place,” President Nellis said before announcing this year’s recipients. “Whether at the personal, professional, local or global level, our Bobcats are making an impact on the world around them. Our outstanding senior leaders embody this spirit, and it is my great honor to recognize their contributions today.”

Samantha Miller, a senior majoring in journalism/strategic communication who serves as an at-large senator in Student Senate and interns with Athens City Mayor Steve Patterson, was one of eight OHIO undergraduates to receive an Outstanding Senior Leader Award. Miller, who was also awarded this year’s Edwin L. Kennedy Leadership Award, was honored for dedicating her college career to giving Appalachian Ohio a voice. Among her contributions were planning tours of rural Southeast Ohio for visiting policymakers, working extensively during the 2016 election season to register Athens community members to vote and assisting the Little Cities of Black Diamonds, a historical preservation group focused on the coal towns of Southeast Ohio. 

This year’s gala was Miller’s second, having received one of the Blackburn/Spencer Achievement Awards during her first year at OHIO.

“That award,” she said, “really meant a lot to me and kind of set the stage for what Ohio University had to offer me, and I think it is like a full circle that I get to leave the University with these amazing distinctions that I am incredibly honored to receive.

“Tonight’s awards to me really recognize the work of those around me,” Miller added. “I would not have been able to get here tonight without my incredible family who has supported me all along the way. I am a first-generation college student, so getting to college alone was really tough, and making it through is an achievement in itself. Just to know that people think that I left such an impact on this University that has truly left an impact on me, I can’t even begin to put into words what that means to me. Tonight is a culmination of all the amazing experiences and peers and educators that have been a part of my journey here at Ohio University.”

The evening ended with President Nellis announcing OHIO’s new student trustee. Ohio Gov. John Kasich selected Austin McClain, a sophomore from Canton, Ohio, majoring in business economics and entrepreneurship, to serve a two-year term on OHIO’s governing board.

Ohio University President M. Duane Nellis poses for a photo with Austin McClain who was selected by Ohio Gov. John Kasich to serve as a student trustee on OHIO’s Board of Trustees.

Ohio University President M. Duane Nellis poses for a photo with Austin McClain who was selected by Ohio Gov. John Kasich to serve as a student trustee on OHIO’s Board of Trustees. 

In an interview following the announcement, McClain said he applied for the position after learning about it from his friend and current student trustee, Brooke Mauro, and was “thrilled and beyond thankful” at being selected for the position.

“I was interested in serving as a student trustee because I love Ohio University so much, and having an opportunity to give back to this University in such a meaningful way means a lot to me,” McClain said. 

When asked what he hopes to accomplish as a trustee, McClain said, “I would like to have more students know about the resource of a student trustee and for that resource to be better used. I also want to be as helpful as I can possibly be in addressing issues that present themselves in the future.”

Here are some other memorable moments from this year’s gala:

Dave Edwards Sr., director of OHIO’s Brigadier General James M. Abraham and Colonel Arlene F. Greenfield Veterans and Military Student Services Center, presents one of two Eyes of Freedom Scholarships to Kevin Rothermund.

Dave Edwards Sr., director of OHIO’s Brigadier General James M. Abraham and Colonel Arlene F. Greenfield Veterans and Military Student Services Center, presents one of two Eyes of Freedom Scholarships to Kevin Rothermund, a junior studying business management and strategic leadership. Created in 2015 and funded by OHIO’s Combat Veterans Club, the scholarships honor the memory of the 23 U.S. Marines and the Navy Corpsman with Columbus, Ohio’s Lima Company, 3/25 Marines who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2005. Rothermund is a member of the Combat Veterans Club and recently decided to pursue a career with the ROTC as an officer in the U.S. Army.

Pete Trentacoste, director of Housing and Residence Life, presents a Division of Student Affairs Student Employee Scholarship for Academic Excellence to Ami Scherson, a junior majoring in music through OHIO’s Honors Tutorial College.

Pete Trentacoste, director of Housing and Residence Life, presents a Division of Student Affairs Student Employee Scholarship for Academic Excellence to Ami Scherson, a junior majoring in music through OHIO’s Honors Tutorial College. Scherson works for Event Services as a production assistant at OHIO’s Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium.

Joseph Brenckle is all smiles upon receiving this year’s Outstanding Graduate Student Leader Award in the master’s student category.

Joseph Brenckle is all smiles upon receiving this year’s Outstanding Graduate Student Leader Award in the master’s student category. Brenckle, who served as the gala’s pianist, is pursuing a master’s degree in college student personnel. He is the graduate assistant for the Office of Community Engagement, the graduate assistant of campus relations and a graduate advisor to the Student Alumni Board, the president of the Singing Men of Ohio Alumni Society, the recipient of the Jim Rhatigan Fellowship, and advises BobcaThon.

Ohio University President M. Duane Nellis poses for a photo with Outstanding Senior Leader Award recipient Matthew Kinlow, a biological sciences major.

Ohio University President M. Duane Nellis poses for a photo with Outstanding Senior Leader Award recipient Matthew Kinlow, a biological sciences major. Among other leadership positions, Kinlow is the former president and current health policy and legislative affairs chair of the Minority Association of Pre-Health Students, president of the Black Student Cultural Programming Board, and the former vice president and brother of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc.-Phi Chapter where he worked to resurrect the Miss Bronze Scholarship Pageant.

2018 Leadership Awards and Scholarship Winners

The following awards and scholarships were presented at Ohio University’s 35th annual Leadership Awards Gala:

Charles J. Ping International Leadership Award – (Undergraduate international student) Meihan Zhang, senior, communication studies and journalism major; (graduate international student) Keith Phetlhe, second-year doctoral student, African arts and literature major; and (domestic student) Che Hung Wang, sophomore, Honors Tutorial College finance and management information systems major.

Stonewall Leadership Award – (Student) Joseph Metcalf, junior, integrated mathematics major; and (group) SHADES, student organization dedicated to fostering connections between multicultural same-gender loving, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Ohio University students.

Women’s Issues Leadership Award – Reiya Bhat, Honors Tutorial College political science major; and Madison Sloat, Honors Tutorial College communication studies major.

Blackburn/Spencer Scholarship Award – Kyra Barksdale, sophomore, communication studies major; Dejae’Naye Wilkins, sophomore, journalism strategic communication major; and Juwaun Tye, sophomore, integrated media major. 

Blackburn/Spencer Achievement Award – Randi Bateman, sophomore, middle childhood education major; Ashlee Jackson, sophomore, family and consumer sciences major; Ashleigh Johnson, sophomore, psychology major; Nylah Mustafa, pre-law political science major; Vanessa Thiel, urban planning and sustainability major; and Honesty Thomas, sophomore, English literature and writing major.

Latino Heritage Achievement Award – Isa Arantes, first-year student, environmental and plant biology major; Jonathan Camargo, senior, journalism strategic communication major; and Benjamin Giusto, sophomore, business economics major.

Francine Childs Diversity Leadership Award – Imani Evans, junior, communication studies major. 

Eyes of Freedom Scholarship – Michael Martin, first-year student, information and telecommunication services major; and Kevin Rothermund, junior, business management and strategic leadership major.

Edwin L. Kennedy Leadership Award for Outstanding Community Service – (Student) Samantha Miller, journalism strategic communication major; (student organization) BobcaThon, a year-long fundraiser that benefits Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio. 

Outstanding Student Programming Award – (Spring semester 2017) Ohio University Combat Veterans Club for the Athens County Children Services School Outreach Program; (fall semester 2017) Better Bystanders for “A Mile Together”; (spring semester 2018) Alpha Phi Alpha for the Martin Luther King Jr. Silent March and Brunch; (late night programming) BobcaThon for the BobcaThon Dance Marathon.

Outstanding Student Organization Advisor Award – Ryan Fogt, associate professor of geography, director of the Scalia Laboratory for Atmospheric Analysis and advisor of OHIO’s student chapter of the American Meteorological Society.

Kerrigan Family Scholarship – Rachael Ridout, junior, sociology and German major. 

Rudy Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Student Leadership – Zachary Reizes, junior, war and peace studies major.

Division of Student Affairs Student Employee Scholarship for Academic Excellence – Brooklyn Danielle Adams, junior, nursing major; Jordan Marquis, junior, chemistry/pre-dentistry major; Julia Diane Moore, junior, management information systems and business analytics major; and Faye Sloma, junior, communication studies major.

Division of Student Affairs Student Employee Scholarship for Workplace Excellence – Corey Cale, junior, commercial photography major; Cody Huebner, sophomore, management and strategic leadership as well as management information systems and business analytics major; Katherine Linson, junior, psychology and sociology major; and Ami Scherson, junior, Honors Tutorial College music major.

Outstanding Graduate Student Leader Award – (Masters level) Joseph Brenkle, studying college student personnel; (doctoral level) Ryan Paulus, Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Outstanding Senior Leader Award – Hannah Britton, journalism strategic communication and marketing major; Sara Defibaugh, journalism strategic communication and English creative writing major; Rachel Fouts, biological sciences major; Matthew Kinlow, biological sciences major; Brooke Mauro, management and strategic leadership major; Samantha Miller, journalism strategic communication major; and Niara Stitt, political science pre-law major.

John Newton Templeton Outstanding Senior Leader Award – Joselyn Hines, psychology pre-medicine major.