Student Awards Convocation honors student achievement

GVL / Luke Holmes - A couple of students pose for a photo with president Haas before the ceremony. The Student Convocation awards ceremony was held in the Eberhard Center Monday, Apr. 11, 2016.

GVL / Luke Holmes - A couple of students pose for a photo with president Haas before the ceremony. The Student Convocation awards ceremony was held in the Eberhard Center Monday, Apr. 11, 2016.

Maddie Forshee

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April 11 was the first bright day of the spring season, and that brightness continued into the evening as Grand Valley State University celebrated its best and brightest students at the annual Student Awards Convocation on April 11.

“Tonight, we celebrate our students’ outstanding achievements, leadership capabilities and general contributions to the campus community,” said Provost Gayle Davis. “I’m honored to be here with you.”

Davis introduced Dean of Students Bart Merkle, who gave the keynote speech of the night. Merkle said that he wanted to share his wisdom with the award recipients, and gave some choice advice to them.

“No matter who we are, what we do, how successful we are, or how much wealth we may accumulate, life is like a roller coaster,” he said. “We all experience ups and downs, and the challenge to each of us is to enjoy the ups and survive the downs.”

202 awards were given out in total, 164 to undergraduates and 38 to graduate students for a range of accomplishments.

Each college – the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Seidman College of Business, College of Community and Public Service, College of Education, Seymour and Esther Padnos College of Engineering and Computing, College of Health Professions, Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies and the Kirkhof College of Nursing – gave out the “Excellence-in-a-Discipline” Award, an award that honors one student from every undergraduate and graduate discipline within the college.

The students were recommended for the award by departmental faculty, which was based upon an earned minimum number of credit hours and grade point average.

“There are two guiding principles (that I do) that are worthy of adoption,” Merkle said. “Strive to bring out the best in other people and strive to make wherever you are a better place. In the end, I believe that the way you implement these principles will determine your personal and professional success.”

Some students embodied these principles that Merkle imparted on them and received awards based on their demonstration leadership and contributions to their respective fields of study during their time at GVSU.

The Kenneth R. Venderbush Leadership Award is an award that is given to one senior who showcased exceptional academic and leadership abilities during their college career. This years’ award recipient was Maddie Cleghorn, GVSU’s student senate president and a political science major.

The Thomas M. Seykora Award for Outstanding Contribution honors eight seniors who have made significant contributions to GVSU’s campus community. These students were selected by their peers and staff members of GVSU. The students selected to receive this award were: Jiri Aberle (international relations), Demario Bell (English), Kendall Farkas (classics), Darian Farrell (psychology), Nicole Gustin (Biomedical sciences and nursing), Danielle O’Connor (hospitality and tourism management), Scott St. Louis (history) and Danielle Tanner (international relations). 

The Glenn. A. Niemeyer Award is considered the most prestigious academic award given out by GVSU. The students who receive this award every year are well-rounded students who demonstrate only excellence in their classes and in their extra-curricular activities and enrich their own lives and the lives of others.

The two undergraduate students honored with this award were Andrew Plague, a political science student, and Scott St. Louis, a history student. The three graduate students chosen for this award were Scott Burden, a higher education student, Jonathan Gibson, a nursing student, and Crystal Lamb, a physical therapy student.