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Student leaders honored through recognition program

Washington State University Vancouver strives to cultivate student leaders, and opportunities abound for students to become involved in campus organizations. To recognize the efforts of student leaders, WSU Vancouver recently held the Student Leadership Recognition Program. The program serves to honor students who have exhibited exceptional leadership skills at WSU Vancouver. Students are recognized for their contributions to the campus and the broader community. Four awards were presented during the event: the Humanitarian Award, Emerging Leader Award, Club of the Year Award, and the Student Leadership Award.

Tasi Salanoa and Stefani Mammenga began the event by welcoming everyone and defining the event as a way to inspire emerging leaders and recognize current leaders. Participants were encouraged to take photographs throughout the event and post them on social media with the hashtag #vancougslead.

Before welcoming keynote speaker Enrique Brouwer, Salanoa offered a quote from John Wooden, who said, “The most powerful leadership tool you have is your own personal example.”

Brouwer is a professor of psychology at WSU Vancouver. Brouwer delivered a speech on what makes a strong leader. He said, “You make my task easy by asking a fundamental question: ‘Why do I lead?'” He went on to explain leader emergence.

Brouwer said that there are three avenues to entering leadership. The first is the most common, called affective identity motivation. This is a desire to be in charge and create change. The second is one that he claimed to not see on WSU Vancouver’s campus called non-calculative. This is when leaders do not spend time thinking of others and only see themselves benefiting as a leader. The third and final avenue is social normative leadership. These are the leaders who have a sense of responsibility and feel that it is their turn to lead.

“Intelligence makes an effective leader,” explained Brouwer, “because you can’t cure stupid.” According to Brouwer, another quality for effective leadership is an openness to experience and conscientiousness for those around oneself. He said “extroversion is an absolute mandate, even introverts have this quality.” His explanation continued with emotional stability that included high self-monitoring, a guiding light, and the nurturing of others. Brouwer believes that there is one question a leader should ask themselves every day: “What is the challenge I have to meet today?”

After Brouwer’s speech, Zeke Estes and Adriana Benitez presented the student leaders and clubs, and gave thanks to the advisors and supervisors who helped keep the clubs and organizations on track throughout the school year. Honored this year were the Associated Students of WSU Vancouver, College Access coaches, Office of Student Involvement student staff, Student Affairs and Enrollment, Student Ambassadors, the Student Wellness Center, the Student Diversity team, the Student Media organizations, the Student Resource Center, and over 40 student clubs. The leaders from these organizations received a pin for their involvement and were photographed with their advisors and supervisors.

After honoring the clubs and organizations, Chancellor Mel Netzhammer and Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Nancy Youlden presented the leadership recognition awards. Student leaders and clubs were nominated, and then selected by a committee. Winners of the awards received an engraved trophy, a personalized, framed plaque, and a cash award applied to their student account.

Brittany Davis, a senior majoring in Digital Technology and Culture, won the Humanitarian Award. She has been involved with student diversity since 2013 and led efforts to aid indigenous people around the country including protestors at Standing Rock. She sees the value in helping others and said that to truly live, “one must find something meaningful.”

The winner of the Emerging Leader Award was Navaraj Lamichhane, a sophomore studying business administration. Lamichhane is also a senator with ASWSUV, a student ambassador, and part of the cafeteria staff. He faced the challenge of navigating his commitments while adjusting to life in the United States after emigrating from Nepal. Lamichhane’s leadership focused on finance and Money Matters events.

The Club of the Year award winner was the Cougar Pride Club; they also received this award in 2013. Youlden’s speech recognized Cougar Pride Club’s focus on advocacy, LGBTQ rights, community involvement, Gender Neutral Bathroom Week, and free HIV testing on campus.

The final award was the Student Leadership Award, and the winner was Kate Palermini, a senior double majoring in DTC and anthropology. Palermini leads the Girls Who Game club. She was recognized as a positive representation of nontraditional students who shows loyalty, devotion to help others, branding skills, and digital strategies in marketing. In regards to her accomplishments, she said, “The past three years have helped me develop my self confidence and my desire to help others.”

Skye Troy, ASWSUV president, and Jose Scott, ASWSUV president-elect, ended the event with some closing remarks. They recognized the efforts of the student body in accomplishing the goals set forth by student organizations, including opening the student health center, installing events calendars in the bathrooms, passing a technology fee, and providing financial aid for over 40 students for commencement caps and gowns. In closing, Troy said, “Celebrate the leadership before us while welcoming the new leadership in front of us,” and Scott said, “Leadership is not a one time event, it is a lifetime process.”

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