GVSU recognizes student leadership with annual ‘I Am Grand Valley’ campaign

GVL / Spencer Scarber
Students gather at Lubbers Stadium to watch the GVSU Laker football team battle it out against the University of Indianapolis on Thursday August 31, 2017.

GVL / Spencer Scarber Students gather at Lubbers Stadium to watch the GVSU Laker football team battle it out against the University of Indianapolis on Thursday August 31, 2017.

Anne Marie Smit

The Grand Valley State University Office of Student Life recently launched its annual “I Am Grand Valley” campaign where, up through Thursday, Nov. 30, students, faculty and staff can nominate GVSU students with outstanding leadership skills to be formally recognized.

The nomination process is fairly simple and only takes a couple of minutes. To nominate a student, GVSU community members can visit www.gvsu.edu/iamgv to fill out a short form, providing the nominator’s name, the nominee’s name and the reason why the nominated person is an excellent leader. 

The I Am Grand Valley campaign is non-competitive, meaning that its goal isn’t to single out a select number of students for their leadership. Any student can be nominated by another individual of the GVSU community.

“Essentially, this is a non-selective recognition,” said Amber Gerrits, leadership staff assistant in the Office of Student Life and facilitator of the campaign. “This really strives to recognize all student leadership. Last year, we had 1,400 nominations.” 

Gerrits said students in the GVSU community can be leaders in different ways, and the I Am Grand Valley campaign strives to acknowledge all students who go above and beyond what is expected of them, either in their student organizations or in the classroom.

“It’s to recognize a vast amount of student leadership across the board in a lot of different capacities,” Gerrits said. “I see it as a really great opportunity to recognize either people who are really hardworking in their student (organizations) and don’t get that recognition or freshman and emerging leaders that, maybe, this is the first time they’ve been recognized as a leader on campus, and then we try to connect them with other leadership opportunities.”

Eric Stevens, assistant director of student organizations, views the campaign as a way for students to feel a sense of belonging within the GVSU community.

“There aren’t a ton of opportunities to give really good, positive messages to students or honor their leadership capabilities,” Stevens said. “I think it makes you feel like you belong more to Grand Valley when you win this award, and the thought process of I Am Grand Valley and what that means.”

Both Gerrits and Stevens want to point out that the I Am Grand Valley campaign is not only about students recognizing other students, but it’s also a chance for faculty and staff members to acknowledge student achievement.

“I also like that it can come from students, so peers are encouraging each other, but (it’s) also an opportunity for faculty and staff to say, ‘Hey, you’re a rock star; this is what I appreciate about you,'” Stevens said. “Back when I was in college, I can remember very clearly the two or three times where faculty encouraged me and (spoke) into my life in a positive manner, and those are really important pieces that you take with you. That’s why we want to encourage faculty and staff to be part of this because it means so much to students.”

Students nominated for the I Am Grand Valley campaign will be contacted by Gerrits and invited to attend a reception. Here, students will receive a certificate for each nomination they received, containing the message the student, faculty or staff member wrote about them. Other gifts will also be dispersed. 

“Essentially, every person that gets a nomination will be invited to the I Am Grand Valley reception where they’ll get their certificate, they’ll get a I Am Grand Valley T-shirt, there’ll be other leadership opportunities to network with, and all they have to do is RSVP for that event,” Gerrits said. 

It is important to note that while the campaign does not put a cap on the number of students who can be nominated, a student, faculty or staff member can only nominate up to 10 people.

“You only have 10 nominations,” Gerrits said. “While it’s not a selective program, we do want to reign it in a little bit. That way, you know that if you are nominated, you really believe that you’re someone’s top priority, that you’re really a leader.”