Sometimes good deeds and hard work go unnoticed, but at Grand Valley State University, there’s a program in place to help recognize student leaders on campus for their accomplishments. Run out of the Office of Student Life, the “I am Grand Valley” award series aims to celebrate and acknowledge student leadership on campus.
Started in 2003, “I am Grand Valley” offers an annual opportunity for staff, faculty and other students to nominate students who they feel demonstrate characteristics of an “outstanding student leader.”
“Maybe it’s an RA, maybe it’s a student leader in an organization,” said Amber Gerrits, leadership staff assistant. “Someone you just see as an emerging leader or a really outstanding leader.”
This year’s nominations are open from Nov. 2-30, and students, faculty and staff can nominate up to 10 other students. Last year, Gerrits said there were about 1,900 nominations and 350 nominators. About a third of the nominations were from faculty and staff, and the other two-thirds from the student body.
The form to nominate students is on OrgSync, where those nominating are asked to write a two to three sentence description of why the person they’re nominating deserves to be nominated. Gerrits said all nominations are valid, as long as there is some sort of description given.
After the nominating process is finished, a reception will be held Wednesday, Jan. 25, to invite all those who were nominated and who nominated other people. Gerrits said there are certificates handed out to those who are nominated, with descriptions printed on them of what the nominators said about them. T-shirts are then handed out to the nominated, and at the reception there will be tables to promote other leadership programs.
Gerrits said the message of the program is to recognize outstanding student leaders and to push other people to be active in the nominating process. She also said it is to help empower underclassmen to be better leaders.
“It is sort of a big deal for underclassmen to get this because it does show that someone does recognize them, and maybe that will empower them to go and do other awesome things,” Gerrits said.
Gerrits said it helps students to be more proud of what they’ve done on campus.
“This was sort of created with the mindset that there’s so many different types of leaders on campus, and we’re all Grand Valley,” Gerrits said. “It’s just to recognize and feel proud of what you’ve done on campus, just saying ‘I am Grand Valley and I’ve made a difference and someone’s recognized me.’”