More than 100 students, faculty honored for outstanding achievements

Participants at the Grand Valley Student Awards Banquet held on Monday

Nicole Lamson

Participants at the Grand Valley Student Awards Banquet held on Monday

Samantha Butcher

Grand Valley State University’s finest undergraduate and graduate students and faculty members gathered Monday night for the university’s annual Awards Banquet.

“These are some of our best and brightest of our students and faculty at Grand Valley,” said Gayle Davis, provost and vice president for academic affairs.

Presenters at the event, which included deans from all of the university’s colleges, doled out about 120 awards. The majority of recipients were students recognized in the Departmental Honors Awards, which rewarded one student per major for academic excellence. Eight students received Thomas M. Seykora Awards for Outstanding Contribution.

The 33rd-annual Kenneth A. Venderbush Award was awarded to senior Kristen Zeiter, a women and gender studies and political science major. Students are nominated for the award on the basis of outstanding involvement in student life, and the final three candidates are interviewed by a panel. Zeiter served on Student Senate and performed in the “Vagina Monologues,” among other achievements.

Two undergraduate students, two graduate students and three faculty members were recognized with Glenn A. Niemeyer awards, the campus’ most prestigious award. The annual awards require that student recipients maintain a 3.7 GPA, demonstrate a love for learning and participate in extracurricular activities.

In his keynote address, Jeffrey Chamberlain, the director of the Niemeyer Honors College, shared advice given to him two weeks prior by his choir director while waiting to take the stage of Carnegie Hall as a Holland Chorale member.

“Tonight is a rare, rare opportunity,” he said. “Think of the moments when you’re out there, remember some of the good things that happen. Take away something from the experience, something you can put in your mind, fix in your mind, for as long as you live.”

Davis said the night was a “great moment” to reflect on academic accomplishments throughout the year.

“We are here tonight to celebrate our students’ outstanding academic achievements as well as their leadership expertise and contributions they’ve made to our community,” she said. “We also honor our faculty for the excellence in the areas of teaching, scholarship and professional service.”

Throughout his address, Chamberlain advised those in attendance that their success in the future hinged on two factors: recognition of their talent and a lack of pretentiousness. He encouraged the award recipients not to lose sight of their achievements in false modesty.

“I wanted to say to all of you honorees tonight, bravo. This is your moment. This is the moment you should be aware, take stock of, remember. Because this is no small thing, this is a major achievement you have honored for because you have put in the time and effort and done a marvelous job.”

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