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Lifting up Leaders

  • Student Leadership Award Winners
    Student Leadership Award Winners
  • Speaker Ebony Rose '01 takes a selfie with student leaders
    Speaker Ebony Rose '01 takes a selfie with student leaders
  • Kerri Brinkoeter accepts the Adviser of the Year Award from senior Travis Kurtz
    Kerri Brinkoeter accepts the Adviser of the Year Award from senior Travis Kurtz

There is no shortage of leadership opportunities at Southwestern, or students who choose to pursue them, as evidenced by those recognized at the 17th annual Student Leadership Banquet held on April 9.

Hosted by Southwestern Circle for Omicron Delta Kappa (ODK)—a national honor fraternity dedicated to recognizing, fostering and celebrating leadership at the collegiate level—the 2015 event recognized both students and organizations, highlighting the importance of leadership alongside academic work.

Featured speaker Ebony Rose ’02 shared her reflections on what it means to be a leader and expressed gratitude for the leadership skills she gained during her Southwestern Experience. Rose has 10 years of experience in higher education and student affairs. She currently supports leadership development at Texas Christian University, where she works specifically with campus Greek communities, first­-generation college students, and marginalized or underrepresented student groups. Rose is a member of Southwestern’s Alumni Council and serves as her Class Giving Officer.

The 2015 Overall Leader Award was presented to senior Joshua Page, who says his relationships and experiences at Southwestern are at the root of his development and will inspire him for years to come.

Senior student athletes Chandler Lentz (women’s volleyball) and Carson Severson (men’s basketball) received Pirate Anchor Awards for their commitment in the classroom, in the community, and in competition. Kerri Brinkoeter, head women’s basketball coach and Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) adviser, was honored with the Adviser of the Year Award. The honor was especially meaningful, as Brinkoeter announced she is leaving Southwestern in May.

Adrienne Dodd, a CELTA (Community-Engaged Learning Teaching Assistant) for the SU Community Garden and King Creativity Scholar received the the first-ever award for Outstanding Student Contribution to Civic Engagement. Anwar Sounny-Slitine, instructor of environmental studies and GIS lab manager, says of Dodd, “She has utilized her people skills, charismatic personality, and amazing intellect to advance and inspire suitability and cross-cultural learning.”

First year Taylor Lewis, sophomore Mac Light, junior Audrey Anglin and senior Katy Jones were also honored with leadership awards. According to Jones, the key to being a great leader is following your passions. “Being a passionate leader who balances listening to others while voicing their own views in a respectful manner inspires others to become involved and to find their own passions,” she says. Lewis adds that leading “is not the act of commanding others” but rather working alongside others “toward achievement and success.”

The 2014-2015 Emerging Leader Award was presented to sophomore Kabi Kamau, who, in her first two years at Southwestern, has served as president, vice-president and founder of three different organizations. She says, “Power lies not within the leader, but through the leader with constant support and creativity of others.” Kamau says she founded Sailors and Sirens, an a capella group, because “music transcends divisive categories and brings together people of all backgrounds behind a single, moving voice.”

The Student Organization of the Year was E.B.O.N.Y. for demonstrating leadership by hosting a diverse array of interactive, thought­-provoking campus­-wide events and by serving as a resource and safe place for students. E.B.O.N.Y. prides itself on promoting “honest dialogue of shared experiences” and “consistently encouraging others to never yield toward any form of injustice or intolerance.”

Also recognized were the graduating members of ODK and Southwestern’s Who’s Who in American Universities and Colleges.