Student Life Awards recognize student organizations’ accomplishments


GVL Archives

Chloe Schram, Staff Writer

Grand Valley State University’s Student Life Awards will be held on April 14. The awards aim to highlight the uniqueness and leadership of different organizations, students and university entities for their dedication to the GVSU community. 

Olivia Witsaman is the student organizations and leadership development graduate assistant in the Office of Student Life. Witsaman is one of the main points of contact for the hundreds of student organizations on campus. For the Student Life Awards, she worked with the Assistant Director of Student Life, Bri Slager, to plan the event.  

“Programming the Student Life Awards allows me to connect with a variety of campus partners,” Witsaman said. “Without their support, this special recognition event would not be possible. Bri and I work with Facilities and Athletics to ensure we can transform the Field House into an awards ceremony space. We share our vision of the event aesthetic with The Promotions Office, who then creates the marketing materials and graphics for the event, bringing our vision to life.”

The Office of Student Life has put on the Student Life Awards for over 30 years. The awards are meant to celebrate the efforts of registered student organizations and students’ willingness to “explore their passions, create communities of care and develop as leaders throughout the entire year.”

“We had over 200 nominations for events, individuals, and organizations this year,” Slager said. “I also work with our partners in the Division of Student Affairs to collect their nominations and materials to assist in presenting their awards. This year, additional campus departments will be represented at the awards.” 

The Office of Student Life wants to honor the impact the GVSU community makes on the campus environment. 

“Our team’s intention is that the Student Life Awards reminds student organization members of their value and what they contribute to GVSU,” Witsaman said. “Without student organizations, our community would not be as vibrant, and students deserve to know that.” 

One organization nominated for a Student Life Award this year is American Cancer Society (ACS) Relay for Life. The organization is nominated for the “Care for Community” award.

“Relay is a community-based fundraising event for the ACS,” said Olivia Iafrate, a junior at GVSU and a member of ACS. “All of the proceeds go towards improving cancer survival, decreased incidence of cancer and improving the quality of life for cancer patients and their caretakers.”

Iafrate said ACS is “a group of college students who work together to fight against cancer.” The organization plans events, connects with cancer survivors and shares information about cancer. 

Iafrate has family members who had lost their battle against cancer, so she’s thankful for an organization that helps her honor them through events and actions. 

“My favorite part about Relay is the Luminaria ceremony to remember and honor those we have lost from cancer, those who are still fighting and those in remission,” Iafrate said.

The Student Life Awards highlight the work of student organizations like ACS and honors the unique aspects of each GVSU organization.

“(The Student Life Awards) really is an event to celebrate all the work student organization leaders put into creating a vibrant campus community,” Slager said. “We truly believe that student organizations are the heart of GVSU.”