Middle Tennessee State University recently presented its most prestigious student awards for the 2022-23 academic year.
This universitywide awards program pays tribute to undergraduate students for their exemplary character and achievements in scholarship, leadership and service.
• President’s Award winner is Natalie Young of New Albany, Mississippi, who majored in nursing. The student earning this recognition must exemplify superior character and honor and have made achievements that, ideally, all students should strive to meet.
“It has been an honor to be selected for this award, but an even greater honor to lead and learn as a student here,” said Young, 23, who is moving to Nashville, Tennessee, to work at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital as a neonatal intensive care unit nurse. “I have been blessed to meet such incredible people, both faculty and students alike, during my time at MTSU.”
• Provost’s Award winner is Elizabeth Kowalczyk of Huntsville, Alabama, a forensic science major recently named as a 2023 Goldwater Scholar. This award is given to a student who best demonstrates outstanding academic achievement through involvement in scholarly activities.
“Receiving the Provost (award) validates all the hours I have dedicated to my research endeavors and other academic accomplishments,” said Kowalczyk, who plans to conduct forensic microbiology research while earning her doctorate. “I have always flown under the radar, working in the lab. It is incredible knowing my contributions to this university have not gone unrecognized.”
• Community Service Award winner is Kera Reynolds, of Shelbyville, Tennessee, an English major who earned minors in psychology, social welfare and University Honors. It is given to a student who has made an outstanding contribution to the community.
“Receiving the Community Service Award in April was incredible, since it was National Autism Acceptance Month,” said Reynolds, 21, who was diagnosed at 17 and will graduate in May 2024. “Being a college student with a disability is not easy.” She has been involved in many facets of campus and volunteers countless hours in community service. She plans to pursue higher education administration, plus write books, plays poems along with an art hobby.
• Robert C. LaLance Jr. Award winner is Brioanna Cunningham, of Jackson, Tennessee, a biology major who minored in chemistry and psychology. This award honors a student who has shown remarkable determination, has had to make sacrifices and is contributing to the community while working toward a degree.
“I am honored to have received this award,” said Cunningham, 21, who has a 3.9 GPA. “It means so much to me because it lets me know that my passion to serve my community while also excelling in academics has not gone unnoticed.” She has been accepted at the University of Alabama-Birmingham’s School of Optometry, with plans to be an optometrist and “make an impact in underserved communities and work to be the best optometrist I can be.”
The winners were announced April 24 during the annual Student Government Association and Center for Student Involvement and Leadership Awards Banquet, held in the Student Union Ballroom. They were presented by Deb Sells, vice president for Student Affairs and vice provost for Enrollment and Academic Services.
In addition to the University Awards, the event included SGA Recognition Awards, the presentation of Dean Judy Smith Scholarships; CSIL presentations; Fraternity and Sorority Life, Intercultural and Diversity Affairs and June Anderson Center awards; inauguration of 2022-23 SGA executive board officers; and remarks from outgoing SGA President Jada Powell and incoming President Michai Mosby.
There also were special presentations for Sells and Sarah Sudak, associate vice president for Student Affairs and dean of students. Both are retiring this year.
— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)
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