Students, Staff and Programs Recognized April 10 at Annual SA Leadership Awards

Marius Vold received a Big Ideas Real-World Thinking Award for his academic efforts that include impressive research activity as well as serving as a MavPASS leader.

Top annual Student Activities Leadership Awards were presented April 10 to this year’s recipients selected from campus-wide nominations. Awards recognized students, staff and programs that contributed to student life at Minnesota State Mankato

  • Outstanding Collegian Award: Autumn Ritter and Elshadie Zergaw
  • Big Ideas Real-World Thinking Award: Reauna Stiff and Marius Vold
  • Maverick Spirit Award: Emely Lopez-Ruiz and Kara Svercl
  • Outstanding Recognized Student Organization Advisor Award: Kwesi Essilfie and Nancy Fitzsimons
  • Outstanding Recognized Student Organization Award: Marketing Club and Neurodiversity Community
  • Recognized Student Organization Exemplary Service: Student Ambassadors
  • Recognized Student Organization Program of the Year: “Día de los Muertos,” hosted by Latinx Student Union
  • Rising Star Award: Atlas James
  • Scott Hagebak Centennial Student Union Wall of Fame Award: Bill Tourville
  • Outstanding Campus Volunteer Award: Tyler Pickel
  • Davy Family Service Scholarship recipient: Jeremiah Rupert
  • Murray scholarship recipient: James Ziegeweid

The Outstanding Collegian Award is given to a student who is a student leader and who represents the core values of MSU, Mankato–integrity, diversity, access, responsibility, excellence in their organization, and works toward the benefit of others.

Autumn Ritter will be graduating this spring with a management major, minors in entrepreneurship and innovation and non-profit leadership, and an Honors Program designation.

Autumn’s nominator highlighted how she exhibits integrity and respect in how she conducts herself, noting that “Autumn is incredibly mature and professional. She is self-aware about her strengths and weaknesses, and open to constructive criticism. She is well respected by her peers and naturally emerges as a leader in a variety of situations. Autumn sees herself as a servant leader and uses this framework to guide her in leadership roles.”

Additionally, Autumn represents the core values of the university because she is committed to access and diversity. One of the reasons Autumn chose to earn a minor in non-profit leadership is because she values helping and empowering others. However, she is aware of the importance of understanding the needs of others from their own perspective and has sought to educate herself about those who have different lived experiences than her own. As a first-year student she attended the “It’s Time to Talk” racial justice event sponsored by the Mankato YWCA and served as a mentor for the YMCA Youth Mentor Program. As a sophomore, Autumn volunteered for Habitat for Humanity, specifically working at the organization’s Restore site, using her Spanish language skills to help serve customers at the store. Finally, Autumn is currently completing an internship with the Feeding Our Communities Partners organization where she has gained an appreciation for the ways poverty and food insecurity impact a child’s success.

Autumn’s commitment to access and diversity aligns with her desire to seek solutions to society’s challenges. Her choice to earn degrees in management, non- profit leadership, and entrepreneurship and innovation is evidence of how she has mindfully sought to prepare herself to make meaningful change in her communities. An excellent example of how these degrees converge is Autumn’s status as a finalist for the MNSU Big Ideas Challenge. Her “Big Idea” is the development of an app speech language pathologists can use to help differentiate between dialect differences and diagnosable speech disorders. During discussions with friends studying to become speech language pathologists, Autumn learned that cultural differences in speech patterns can cause children to be misdiagnosed with speech disorders. Autumn is committed to using her leadership skills to seek solutions to society’s challenges.

Finally, Autumn is committed to excellence in her academic and non-academic pursuits. Autumn has maintained a 3.92 GPA despite working multiple off-campus jobs and being actively involved in community service. She is also one of only a handful of recent honors students who have managed to complete the “with distinction” track. She has made such a positive impression during her internship at Coldwell Banker Commercial Fisher Group they have offered her full-time employment upon her graduation. Autumn’s nominator concluded her nomination by summarizing: “Autumn is an extremely impressive student who exemplifies the core values of our university; she truly is an outstanding collegian.”

Elshadie Zergaw will graduate this spring with a degree in biomedical science and a minor in chemistry. When thinking of the five core values – Integrity, Diversity, Access, Responsibility, and Excellence, the individual who nominated Elshadie spoke to her immense work ethic, her dedication to every role she takes on, the strong academic course load, and the ownership she takes in her work. As this year’s Marketing and Social Media coordinator for the Maverick Involvement Team, Elshadie has elevated the organization’s presence and digital connections with other student organizations through creative, clever, and engaging social media campaigns. She’s often three steps ahead when it comes to what content to share and how to do so.

Elshadie is not a loud person – however, she does not need to be, because her actions speak volumes. Not only is she in her second year of serving as a part of the Maverick Involvement Team’s board, but she also revived the Ethiopian and Eritrean Student Association; a task which in any normal year would be challenging, but in a year where everyone is trying to re-adjust to in-person experiences, it is even a more challenging feat. Still, her work in reviving the organization has created a community for many students, embracing the core values of diversity and access. As President of the Ethiopian and Eritrean Student Association, Elshadie has led by example in both managing the logistics of a group while creating opportunities to foster leadership development in her fellow students, setting the organization up for a long, active future.

Elshadie also works as a Lead Student Consultant at IT Solutions, a role which not only requires technical expertise but the ability to manage complex projects. Elshadie’s commitment to excellence can be seen in the care and attention she places into each role, and it’s no surprise that her employer also noticed.

Moreover, Elshadie has consistently been taking heavy course loads for her academic program, and still finds time to assist her peers with coursework. Her nominator states: “Elshadie is one of those students who makes you wonder how on earth they’re able to get everything done in a day. And yet, she does – not only does she get everything done, but she does it with fantastic attention to detail and a smile on her face. It’s clear that she takes her roles seriously and she values the people she serves, no matter the role. Elshadie is truly an outstanding collegian.”

The Big Ideas Real-World Thinking Award is presented to an undergraduate student in their senior year, a graduate student, or an experienced staff member who actively celebrates the mission of Minnesota State Mankato to promote learning through effective undergraduate and graduate teaching, scholarship, and research to the state, region, and global community.

Reauna Stiff is a senior studying political science and communications whose passion for advocacy for people experiencing hardship has already improved the lives of students at MSU, Mankato. Throughout her college career, Reauna has been involved with Pre-law society, Black Student Union, the Social and Behavioral Sciences learning community, Students United, and Student Government.

Perhaps the best example of how she has taken bold aspirations and paired them with practical applications is to look at her work over the past year as Student Body President. Building on research around food insecurity, housing insecurity, financial insecurity, and the impact of unmet basic needs on student experience and retention rates, she has used her role and her voice as Student Body President to make progress for students in the areas of student employee and student leader compensation, access to health and wellness resources, and housing accessibility.

One of the most visible impacts of Reauna’s work was a substantial, campus-wide increase in student employee wages that took effect January 2022. In addition, she has also been an advocate for fair compensation for student leaders, recognizing the significant time and energy they invest in creating a vibrant campus community; already, some areas of campus who work closely with student leaders for university events and services have implemented student leader pay comparable to what student employees on campus now receive.

However, that is only one of the ways where Reauna has combined research and passion to improve students’ lives at Minnesota State. Reauna, along with Student Body Vice-President Kara Svercl, developed and proposed the creation of a comprehensive wellness center on campus. The proposed wellness center would combine already available resources on campus in one location to make it easier for students to access support in times of need; besides creating a one-stop shop for resources such as Student Health Services, the Counseling Center, the Maverick Food Pantry, Emergency Grant Advising, the center would also provide new resources such as a social worker whose role would be to holistically support students experiencing hardship, identify other areas in which a student may be at-risk, and provide education regarding support programs offered by the state such as SNAP, housing vouchers, state health insurance assistance, and more.

Citing research from 2018 that found 74% of the MSU, Mankato student population self-identified as having a moderate level of food insecurity, while 40% of MSU, Mankato students experienced high levels of food insecurity, their rationale also highlighted data showing students who face food insecurity also experience financial insecurity and are at an increased likelihood to also face housing insecurity; additionally, students experiencing unmet basic needs have lower academic performance and are less likely to persist through graduation. As such, they concluded that the creation of the wellness center would not only improve the student experience but would also increase retention rates and improve students’ academic performance.  University Administration, after reviewing the proposal, is moving forward with the recommendations.

After she graduates this spring, Reauna will be heading to law school in the fall, with the long-term goal of being a civil rights attorney.

Marius Vold, a nontraditional and international student, is an Honors Program member, Senior Anthropology and History double major who is also working toward a certificate in geoarchaeology. Marius’s nominator writes, “Marius is worthy of this award because he celebrates the mission of the university through exemplary research activity and undergraduate teaching as an active MavPASS leader and peer mentor.”

During his time at Minnesota State, Marius has been extremely active in various research projects. He first engaged in a detailed project as part of his ANTH 260: Folklore of Fear class. He chose to research gender portrayals of the Navajo Skinwalker and the way these shaped more contemporary creepypasta narratives. He presented this research at the Upper Midwest Honors Conference and the Undergraduate Research Symposium here at MNSU, Mankato.

During summer 2021, Marius continued to develop his research skills and gain valuable field experience by participating in an intra-university geological survey of the Whitewater River system.

This past academic year Marius committed to three different independent study projects, receiving a Foundation Grant and a Stipend from the Undergraduate Research Center to support his efforts. The first project focused on luminescence dating and other geoarchaeological research methods. The second project studied the hydrological connection between the Incan Empirical and Non-empirical worlds, which involved performing original research into the Inca society, combining historical research with ethnohistory and environmental archaeology. Finally, Marius worked with Dr. Jill Cooley and another honors student on the Blue Earth County “Mapping Prejudice Project.” This is an ongoing project where a team of students, faculty and community members are investigating racially restrictive covenants in housing deeds in Blue Earth County.

In addition to his impressive research activity, Marius is also committed to the mission of the university through his support of effective undergraduate teaching. Marius has served as a MavPASS leader and MavPASS peer mentor, and is especially passionate about the program. As his nominator writes, “For Marius, MavPASS is more than a campus job. As a future educator, he sees his role with MavPASS as a way to hone his teaching and mentoring skills.” His nominator also cites Marius’s honors portfolio, where Marius explains “As a MavPASS Peer Mentor, I wanted to adopt a mentoring style that balanced trust, helpfulness, and encouragement in a way where my mentees would be able to feel supported while also developing a degree of autonomy and self-reliance.”

Marius plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Anthropology, with the goal of becoming a professor of anthropology.

The Maverick Spirit Award is awarded to a student who is willing to step-up and who takes risks for the betterment of the MSU, Mankato community.

Emely Lopez-Ruiz is a senior biology student whose campus involvement encompasses a variety of opportunities. Over her time at Minnnesota State Mankato, Emely has transformed from a quiet, softspoken student to a leader who effectively balances working with people while working with information, programs, and details. Emely was a part of the inaugural Maverick Involvement Team – the student leadership team that works as peer advisors for Recognized Student Organizations and is responsible for student-led leadership programs across campus. Despite taking on the new group and a new role during the heart of the pandemic, Emely was open and willing to explore ways to engage with students that stepped outside of traditional programming. She’d encourage her teammates when it seemed as though reaching other student leaders was all but impossible, engage with

This year, she has stepped into the role of Program Operations Coordinator, which requires not only a deep knowledge of leadership programming and recognized student organization information, but it also required overseeing the Maverick Involvement Team as a whole; though this was the second year of the team’s existence, this was the first year of programming that was almost all in-person, which meant that during RSO recognition the entire team was tested on their skills right from the first day of classes. Emely’s encouragement, level-headed nature, and thoughtful approach to working with the team was integral to its successes – even when faced with situations where she was uncertain of how to proceed, she handled it like an absolute professional.

This is not all of Emely’s involvement, however. She is also the co-president of Mavs in Action, a group that works with the Community Engagement Office to connect with students interested in civic engagement and service to both campus and community. During the last two years, this group has also transformed in purpose; though leading one group alone would be a challenge, she has led two groups through challenging periods of growth and establishment with grace, integrity, and a smile.

Beyond that, Emely also serves as Secretary of Latinx Student Union, which in the last year has quickly become a highly visible, active, and engaged organization. Her knowledge of Recognized Student Organizations has proven beneficial in this area as well, as she has been able to use these skills to help the group flourish in a year where many organizations are still rebuilding their foundations.

After graduation, Emely will be attending dental school and hopes to combine her career with the experiences she has gained as a Maverick to serve her community.

Kara Svercl is a junior studying Social Work. From her first days on campus, Kara has shown immense passion in addressing student basic needs – throughout the three years she has been a student at MSU, Mankato, she has championed key programs to address a variety of issues impacting student health and wellness. While her first two years focused more on food insecurity, this year she has expanded her advocacy to address a variety of causes. She is the current Student Body Vice-President; along with President Reauna Stiff, she has been a tireless advocate for fair compensation of student employees and student leaders, access to advising regarding programs and resources that address food and housing insecurity for college students and transforming the way we view student support.

When it was time to develop a wellness center proposal, Kara’s experience bringing the Swipe out Hunger program to MSU, Mankato was particularly beneficial. Bringing the program to MSU, Mankato was no small task – this required working with Student Government/Basic Needs Committee, Residence Life, Sodexo/University Dining Services, the Swipe Out Hunger organization, the Community Engagement Office, and others on our campus who strive to address food insecurity among our students. Kara coordinated the application and approval process, as well as working to get the system set up and promote the program to MSU, Mankato students.

Her nominator writes, “When I hear of a student who is willing to step up and take risks for the betterment of the campus community, my mind immediately goes to Kara. Her role of vice-president is highly visible and navigating the politics of a university is often a fraught process; still, she has brought the same passion and drive from her previous two years to the role, unafraid to point out the things that others might wish were swept under the rug. She’s unafraid to point out when antiquated systems hold the university back, and she’s willing to use unorthodox methods to get her message across – her leadership is truly groundbreaking. Equally noteworthy is her willingness to learn and to accept feedback: I have witnessed Kara receive feedback that would make professional staff members completely shut down and disengage, and she is more than willing to sit with discomfort, reflect, and learn. As a leader who is willing to take risks, it’s essential to recognize that there will be times where those risks do not work out, and because Kara is willing to learn from those times when things do not work out, she has already grown immensely and will continue to grow.

Kara gives her whole heart in anything she does – she’s brilliant, empathetic, and authentic in every role she’s in.  It’s obvious that this campus is a better place because of her willingness to challenge the process and to step outside the box.

The Outstanding Recognized Student Organization Advisor Award is given to an advisor of a Recognized Student Organization who has gone above and beyond in working with members of their organization.

Kwesi Essilfie will graduate this spring with a master’s degree in Counseling and Student Personnel, focusing in College Student Affairs. Kwesi has advised a variety of groups within the Fraternity and Sorority life community – not only did members of the Fraternity and Sorority life community recognize his work by nominating him, but he was also nominated by a student leader who, though not advised directly by Kwesi, was so impressed with his work as an advisor that they nominated him. This nominator writes:

“Although I am not a part of the Fraternity and Sorority life community, I can assure you from an outsider point of view that the valuable efforts put in by Kwesi do not go unnoticed. There is never a day when I don’t witness Kwesi creating a community of support by being in active and friendly conversation with fellow advisees and office members.

By actively seeking connections and conversation, Kwesi has managed to fill gaps between organizations. As an outsider of Fraternity and Sorority life, I value this type of work as a crucial piece that works towards diversity, inclusion, and community. Alongside creating community, Kwesi has also successfully taken on his administrative side of work by placing efforts in event planning for FSL. These efforts were evident in his role in planning and executing the university’s 2022 MAVATHON event that works to raise funds for Mankato’s local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital.

Through our time working together, Kwesi has demonstrated powerful leadership traits that every advisor should exhibit. Through a strong work ethic, critical listening, acts of kindness, guidance, and willingness to make time, Kwesi has not only fostered a campus community who cares but has also helped build bridges between organizations throughout the university.“

Nancy Fitzsimons is in her fourth year as the advisor for College Democrats. Nancy is known across campus for the passion and dedication she brings to advising students – she excels at balancing the need for students to independently try things and learn from the process of leading a student organization while providing insight and recommendations to ensure that student leaders are equipped with the knowledge and skills to thrive. Throughout the last two years, when many Recognized Student Organizations have struggled, College Democrats has continued to remain an active and engaged organization, in part due to her advising. Nancy is always in-tune with student organization challenges and provides valuable feedback to both students and colleagues that allows students to learn and grow, while ensuring staff are better equipped to assist student organizations, which is even more essential as we return to in-person activities post-COVID. 

The Outstanding Recognized Student Organization Award is presented to a Recognized Student Organization that is an active member of the MSU, Mankato community and represents the core values of integrity, diversity, access, responsibility, and excellence.

Marketing Club has always been an active organization; this year, they were up and running right from day one. The group offers a variety of resources and benefits to students, from touring with local businesses to learn about their marketing departments and careers in marketing, to bringing guest speakers who speak to their career paths and ways Marketing students can set themselves apart from the crowd when it comes to internship and job searches. Some of this year’s meetings have included visiting the office, learning about media campaigns from Carmichael Lynch, resume reviews and linkedin tutorials, delving into the world of paid digital marketing and how to maximize its benefits, connecting with students in the University of Minnesota’s marketing club to network and discuss differences in working for corporate marketing versus a marketing agency, and more! And of course, as a club focused on Marketing, they do a phenomenal job of promoting their organization.

Neurodiversity Community is a brand-new organization to Minnesota State University, Mankato. Neurodiversity is an approach to ability that supports the fact that various neurological conditions are the effect of normal changes and variations in the human genome, as opposed to deficits. Rather than looking at the differences as weaknesses, they’re acknowledged as differences. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, autism, dyspraxia, dyslexia, and Tourette’s syndrome are some examples of conditions that are incorporated under the Neurodiverse spectrum.

Neurodiverse students have always been a part of the Minnesota State community; however, they have not always been visible. Since its formation, the Neurodiversity Community has provided a valuable community for current neurodiverse students to gather and speak about their experiences while supporting each other. It has also created opportunities for neurotypical individuals to learn more about what it means to be neurodiverse, how to support individuals who are neurodiverse, and provided opportunities to support future students who are neurodiverse.

Neurodiversity Community has done a phenomenal job of educating the campus and community on the ways neurodivergent people experience, interact with, and interpret the world in unique ways, some of which can be celebrated as strengths. This approach helps to reduce stigma around learning and thinking differences, something that is particularly important at a university.  The presence of the Neurodiversity Community on campus has opened conversations about Neurodiversity in spaces where it has not been addressed before.  These are crucial conversations that are essential to supporting students on campus, the impact of which will increase access and diversity of our student population in the future.

The Recognized Student Organization Exemplary Service Award is presented to a Recognized Student Organization that is involved in community service within the greater Mankato community.

Student Ambassadors is known for providing campus tours to prospective students, but the organization prioritizes service to the campus and community. While involvement in community engagement had been an integral part of their organization, it has been particularly exemplary throughout the 2021-2022 academic year. Right away in August, Student Ambassadors reached out to the Community Engagement Office for service involvement ideas. During Fall 2021, Student Ambassadors organized seven students to help with the Mankato Marathon, helped with Rake the Town, and organized card making to benefit Cardz for Kidz. During Spring 2022, they coordinated monthly shifts for Student Ambassadors to volunteer at the Campus Kitchen.  The organization is also coordinating card making for Cardz for Kidz, in conjunction with March Gladness, the national collegiate card making competition. Student Ambassadors also have several people who have signed up to help with Project Community Connect, scheduled for April 19, 2022.  It’s incredibly clear that involvement on campus and in the community helps to build strong connections for Student Ambassadors. It informs their ability to welcome students to MSU because they know about and are involved in events in our community.

At the time of nomination, Student Ambassadors had amassed at least 123 off-campus service hours during the 2021-2022 year.

The award for Recognized Student Organization Program of the Year is presented to a Recognized Student Organization that hosted a well-attended, welcoming event that also provided a learning opportunity to the campus and greater MSU, Mankato community.

Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead is a holiday that originated in Mexico, meant to celebrate and remember family or people who have passed away. To recognize the occasion, Latinx Student Union not only put together an event to educate students on the cultural significance of Día de los Muertos, but also as a way for students to gather and connect with each other. Balancing activities with education, the event featured a shrine where people could put up photos of their loved ones who passed away, a screening of the film Coco, and a calavera face painting contest (skulls meant to represent deceased loved ones, which was historically done to scare away the dead at the end of festivities). Students were also treated to Mexican sweet bread, hot chocolate, and coffee.

Día de los Muertos was not only a success in how it was planned and implemented, but it also a highly attended event – the multicultural center was filled with students from across campus who came to mark the occasion.

The event not only created a great opportunity for highlighting the holidays celebrated by our diverse student population, but it seamlessly blended education with creating community for students from a variety of backgrounds.

The Rising Star Award is presented to a student who is new to MSU, Mankato (either a new entering or first-year transfer student) who shows active involvement in an organized campus activity. 

Atlas James demonstrated his immense desire to get involved on campus even before his first day as a student at MSU, Mankato, attending the pre-orientation LAUNCH conference while moving from Kentucky. As his nominator points out, “It is no simple feat to move to college by himself, halfway across the country.”

A first-year student in the creative writing program, Atlas has stepped up to create a welcoming campus community. Early in the first semester, he stepped into a leadership role with the Student Events Team as the Educational Entertainment chair, where he has excelled making connections with departments and individual across campus. Examples include LGBT center, American Indian Affairs, the English department, and many more. Throughout the year, Atlas has continued to spread his wings even further by attending the Student Leadership Retreat, working with the Campus Kitchen, participating in alternative spring break, and getting involved with Mavs in Action.

His nominator states: “Atlas has an amazing work ethic and models accountability well, taking ownership whenever a mistake was made. He is not only reliable, but also a visionary. In addition to his wonderful smile and infectious personality, Atlas can envision a plan, take feedback, and rework that plan. In fact, he actively seeks feedback from others and strives to include them in the decision-making process. All these traits are something very few first-year students possess.”

Because of all his talent, dedication, commitment to others, and leading in true Maverick fashion, Atlas is a shining example of a rising star at Minnesota State Mankato.

The Scott Hagebak Centennial Student Union Wall of Fame Award is presented to students and staff members who actively celebrate the mission and vision of the Centennial Student Union by helping create a vibrant community and gathering place.

Bill Tourville has been in his role of Assistant Director of Campus Programs for ten years; during that time, his work with what is now known as the Student Events Team transformed the student experience at MSU, Mankato. Bill’s nominator explains:

“To give you an idea of how much Bill has done for this campus, let me provide some context: back in 2008 I was a high school student looking at colleges. At the time, MSU was known for its lack of student experience – the students I knew who went to MSU didn’t think there was anything to do on campus, so they would leave to go home any chance they got. Fast forward to 2016, when I enrolled at MSU for graduate school. I quickly discovered that MSU had drastically changed in the time I’d been gone; it was almost like an entirely different school! MSU had become a destination for unique events and dynamic, exciting entertainment, and students chose to go to MSU because of all the cool things to do on campus, and to this day MSU had continued to be a university known for its innovative and extraordinary events.”

If you ask Bill, he’ll give credit to the students; after all, Student Events Team is “by students, for students.” However, it’s Bill’s willingness to embrace new ideas, his attention to detail, his commitment to excellence, and his creative problem-solving that helps students bring their visions for big, exciting events to life. Some of the standout programs that Bill has brought to life include Kato Ninja Warrior, CSU Haunted Takeover, the Homecoming Bonfire and Fireworks, Club Maverick, the Foam Party, Galactic Bingo, Family Feud, and Mavfest… and that’s barely scraping the surface.

When the pandemic hit, Bill did not let the sudden shift to online learning hinder or discourage the Student Events Team. Instead, he encouraged students to embrace the chance to try virtual programs; some of which have remained popular even as students returned to campus.

But Bill’s impact on MSU is not just visible in the events on campus; over his time at MSU, he has worked closely with over one hundred Student Events Team board members, providing mentorship that ultimately set up students for success well beyond their time at Minnesota State. He has also provided valuable guidance to a collection of graduate students, preparing them for careers in a variety of fields. Bill’s nominator speaks to this in his nomination as well, stating: “I’ve firsthand experienced Bill’s advising and supervision as a graduate intern for the Student Events Team. As an intern whose role it was to advise Student Events Team board members, I was able to learn not just from his recommendations and insight about advising students, but from how he advised me as an aspiring Student Affairs Professional. His support has absolutely influenced my work, even now – the way I approach advising my own graduate assistants is, in part, because of the way he allowed me the space to learn and grow while challenging me to think outside the box, pay attention to the details, and consider a variety of factors in every decision I make. I’m now almost four years into my career, and as it worked out Bill is now my colleague; still, I continue to learn from him on a regular basis!”

The Outstanding Campus Volunteer award is presented to a student who is involved in community service at MSU, Mankato. The student demonstrates civic responsibility through service and inspires hope in those they serve and others around them. Along with spending time serving others, this student shows respect and compassion for

Tyler Pickel is an Aviation student whose servant-leadership approach is visible in all facets of his life. Whether he is trying to help a fellow student who is struggling in class or waking up at 7am after working until 1am to do a food rescue shift for Campus Kitchen, Tyler has selflessly given his all to Minnesota State Mankato. Tyler has served as a shift leader for the Campus Kitchen for two years, a food rescue program which works with local restaurants to provide meals for individuals in the Mankato community.

Tyler is also the President with the Student Events Team, a role that he approaches with the mindset of serving students by planning events which foster a sense of community, as well as supporting and fostering growth in his team members as they develop their own leadership skills.

From the Student Events Team to Campus Kitchen, Tyler spends almost 25+ hours a week serving the student community. This is on top of a 20+ hour a week job at Kwik trip, taking classes, and flying.

When someone meets Tyler, the first thing you notice is how genuine he is. With Tyler what you see is what you get, and what you get is an amazingly kind and caring person. This genuine desire to help others shines through his actions, and he always has the best for MSU in mind. His day-to-day conversation typically revolves around how he can make this campus and community a better place.

Community Engagement Scholarship recipients are selected by a committee composed of members from both the campus and Greater Mankato community. Out of a pool of 25 applicants, two students were selected to receive the community engagement scholarships.

Over the past 59 years, the Davy family has taken great pride in students, volunteers and alumni in Minnesota State University, Mankato. Joan Davy graduated in 1967 and her husband Mark graduated in 1968. Mankato has been a family tradition for the Davy’s ever since. At this time, the family has seen three generations attend MSU, Mankato. They truly enjoyed their years here in Mankato and wanted to pay it forward by endowing an annual scholarship that would encourage students to serve the Mankato community for several years to come.

Out of a pool of 25 applicants, two students were selected to receive the community engagement scholarships.

Davy Family Scholarship: Over the past 59 years, the Davy family has taken great pride in students, volunteers and alumni in Minnesota State University, Mankato. Joan Davy graduated in 1967 and her husband Mark graduated in 1968. Mankato has been a family tradition for the Davy’s ever since. At this time, the family has seen three generations attend Minnesota State Mankato. They truly enjoyed their years here in Mankato and wanted to pay it forward by endowing an annual scholarship that would encourage students to serve the Mankato community for several years to come.

Jeremiah Rupert was selected for his service to Rosa Parks Elementary, where he serves as a tutor 8 hours a week. Though he tutors second grade, it is clear that he has become a mentor to the children and a classroom leader, making an impact on everyone from the principal on down to the children. He recognizes that even though he goes to school to help the kids, he learns so much in the process. He shared that, “with each student I listen to, I learn a little bit more. I grow a little more each day I work there. I learn a good deal about myself by listening to other students. I know how to talk to kids better without them feeling alienated based on age or size.” Jeremiah is seeking a degree in Management with an English Writing Studies Minor. Based on the stories he shared in his scholarship application, his adventures in tutoring will provide great fodder for his that minor.

The Richard E. Murray Volunteerism Endowment was created to support the same mission that the Davy family supports.

Our Murray scholarship recipient is James Ziegeweid. I have the pleasure of being able to speak from personal knowledge about James’ service experience as he tackles one of the more challenging roles in the Campus Kitchen, that of the Meal Planner. Each week he looks at the donated food in the Campus Kitchen freezer and magically plans delicious meals for our community partners and the students who seek out food from the Campus Kitchen Little Fridge. In addition to Campus Kitchen, he has also volunteered with the South-Central Minnesota Food Recovery Project. Beyond his support of food insecurity, James is a member of the Maverick Speech and Debate team. In addition to their collegiate competitions, the team provided a workshop to high school teams in the area by offering workshops to practice and improve their craft. Since 2021, he has been a pen pal through the YMCA’s Pen Pal Mentor Program. When he is not involved in service, he is also a member of the Cross-Country team, oh, and he is a student here at MSU, with a major in Management, a certification in Integrated Business Experience, a minor in Agribusiness and Food Innovation and Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

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