Jonathan White, Ashley Schulte win SAFE award, Laker of the Year

GVL/Mackenzie Bush (left); GVSU University Communications courtesy (right)
Ashley Schulte (left), Jon White (right)

Mackenzie Bush

GVL/Mackenzie Bush (left); GVSU University Communications courtesy (right) Ashley Schulte (left), Jon White (right)

Kyle Doyle

Every generation has heroes, public figures who step out into the limelight and fight for change and inspire people to be the best they can be.

It can be easy to forget even big-time heroes started small. And those small-time heroes are the people who impact others on a personal level. The winners of the Laker of the Year Award and the Student Award for Faculty Excellence (SAFE) at Grand Valley State University are both people who, in their students’ eyes, fill those shoes.

This year’s recipient of the SAFE award, Jonathan White, professor of interdisciplinary studies in the Frederik Meijer Honors College, and Laker of the Year Award winner, Ashley Schulte, victim advocate in GVSU’s Women’s Center, will be presented with their awards at the Presidents’ Ball Friday, Feb. 3.

Both White and Schulte were nominated by students who thought they showed efforts that went above and beyond expectations and contributed greatly to students, faculty, staff and the campus as a whole.

“(Schulte is) extremely passionate, which I think is a big driving force behind all of her actions,” said Malayna Hasmanis, student senate vice president for educational affairs, who nominated Schulte for the award. “She’s very dedicated, very steadfast. She goes above and beyond for others and she’s very selfless, which speaks a lot. She bends over backwards for students in every way.”

Hasmanis has known Schulte since her sophomore year and has worked with her on several events for the It’s on Us campaign. Hasmanis knew Schulte would be the perfect candidate for the award and was happy she was chosen.

Schulte graduated from GVSU with a bachelor of arts in public and nonprofit administration and a master of education in college student affairs leadership. In her current role as the victim advocate in GVSU’s Women’s Center, Schulte is trying to promote positive change across campus.

After a student came by and told her she had been nominated for the Laker of the Year Award, Schulte said she nearly forgot about it because of how busy she was during that part of the semester. A bit later, however, she got an email saying she had received the award.

“My first reaction was ‘Oh my god, what an honor,’” Schulte said. “It’s really exciting to feel even the smallest—but also a big—recognition for the things you’re involved with and working on and trying to make happen on campus.”

White came to GVSU in 1984 and has been a professor, a staff member and a provost, but he took a four-year hiatus after the terrorist attacks of 9/11 when he went and worked with the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security to train people in anti-terrorism units. He came back in 2005 because he missed the university and his students.

When White found out he had received the SAFE award, he didn’t even know he had been nominated. He said a student contacted him and told him he had won over winter break.

“It really means a lot to me because it’s from the students,” White said. “I’ve never had an award just from the students, and it’s really special.”

For both White and Schulte, this award is a first. Schulte won the 2015 Excellence in Faculty/Staff Support Award from Fraternity and Sorority Life and the 2016 Outstanding Team Project Award from the GVSU AP Awards for the It’s on Us campaign. However, this is her first student award, aside from the paper plate awards that hang in her office from the students she has worked closely with over the years.

White has earned several awards for teaching from GVSU, the Alumni Association and the Michigan State University criminal justice department, as well as from the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and the Michigan State legislature, but he said getting an award from the students is incredibly special because he loves what he does.

“It’s time for me to retire, and right now, there’s no way I’m leaving (the) students,” White said.