Grand Valley State University’s Office of Student Life hosted the Student Life Awards, an awards ceremony dedicated to showcasing the best student organizations on campus. Representatives from dozens of on-campus organizations were in attendance and 23 awards were given out over the course of the evening. Winners included sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha (AKA), which won the Community Impact and Outstanding Educational Program awards and the Filipinx American Student Association (FASA), which won the Best New Organization Award.
As students gathered in the Grand River Room of Kirkhof Center, excitement filled the air as they eagerly awaited the unveiling of each winner. Attendees said seeing so many student representatives from all kinds of organizations contributed to the upbeat atmosphere.
“Overall, it was just a fun environment where everybody’s excited to see everyone and get recognized, depending on what organizations they’re a part of,” said Ashley Pangan, Director of Public Relations for FASA.
Receiving a Student Life Award is one of the highest honors an on-campus organization can receive at GVSU. It signals that the organization is setting itself apart from the rest, while also providing a valuable and enriching experience for its members.
A perfect example of that effect can be seen in the award for Outstanding Educational Program. This year’s award — which was given to AKA — was for their educational event “Real Deal with the Doulas.” The purpose of the event was to teach Black women about doulas, which are trained professionals who help mothers during childbirth.
“All of our programs have some type of educational background to them,” said AKA member Ashley Fordham. “We picked ‘Real Deal with the Doulas’ because we thought it was a very unique event and it was something that touches on a topic that a lot of people don’t have any information about, especially women of color.”
Student Life Awards are also a way to spread the word about excellent student organizations at GVSU. While this year’s ceremony was listed as invite-only, organizations that receive awards will be able use the recognition to entice students to join.
“I think that (the award) solidifies us because I feel like it stands for all of us to say that when we achieved that award and it kind of felt like a breath of fresh air,” said FASA President Kelsey Marquez. “All that time that we put into our organization showed with the award that we were given.”
These awards can also prove that students who pour many hours into their organizations are doing work that truly makes a difference in the GVSU community. These clubs and organizations are one of the backbones of on-campus life and give students many more opportunities to learn valuable lessons outside of the classroom.
“At the end of the day, at college, you are here to elevate your learning and elevate your understanding of topics and issues,” Fordham said. “We really do try to do that in a fun and informative and interactive way, so it was really nice to get recognized because our program was months in the making.”
Although the exposure that comes from receiving a Student Life Award will be an asset for all the winners going forward, representatives from FASA and AKA said that they never think about getting recognized for their efforts while running their organizations. Above all else, these organizations are doing the work they do to make GVSU a better place to be for all students.
“At the end of the day, nothing that we do is for recognition and we truly do it for the betterment of the community,” Fordham said. “Even if we were to just have one person at our program, at least that one person can leave the program knowing that they have new information about important things.”
A complete list of all the Student Life Awards winners can be found on the Student Organizations section of GVSU’s website. Upcoming events for many of the winners can be found on the GVSU events page.