Eight Newest Honorees Named to CSU BEST Board


Faces and words from eight student leaders across campus are now shared as the Spring 2021 BEST Board is on display in the Centennial Student Union Hearth Lounge.

Since Spring 2015, the CSU has recognized eight students each semester selected for campus student leadership and CSU student staff excellence.

An acronym for Boasting Exceptional Student Talent, the BEST Board has become a tradition on campus that spotlights leadership for other students to emulate.

Recipients are nominated by nominated by CSU and Student Activities staff as well as others from the Division of Student Affairs, International Student Services and Diversity and Inclusion.

Among Spring 2021 BEST Board honorees:

Benazir Ali is a computer engineering major from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, set to graduate in Spring 2021. She has been active across campus as

  • Community Advisor since 2018
  • Society of Women Engineers where she has served as president
  • treasurer, fundraising chair, and underclassman rep
  • the Collegiate Leadership Institute
  • Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
  • Maverick Global Ambassadors – Ambassador (2018-2020)
  • New Student Mentorship Program
  • Health Peers Reaching Out
  • Student Events Team
  • Residence Hall Association

Her nomination recognized Benazir for her leadership skills as a CA: “Benazir uses her own leadership skills to embolden and empower her residents to become stronger leaders themselves. In addition to the myriad social events she organizes, Benazir has created community-specific leadership roles for her residents to gain experience as leaders. Furthermore, she mentors and advises her students throughout their experience to help them refine the skills they gain through their positions.”

She was further recognized for helping fellow international students: “She is also a gifted advocate for international students and new students to campus in general. As an international student herself, Benazir has served as a Maverick Global Ambassador (MGA) mentor over the last three years. She is forever dedicated to creating welcoming environments for international students as they navigate ongoing transitions throughout their experience in Mankato.

“Benazir sees her role in mentoring others as a way to give back to the campus for the support she received, but she goes above and beyond in cultivating meaningful relationships, offering intentional support and guidance, and being a great friend to mentees.”

Her BEST Board quote reads: “If you ask, ‘Am I able to achieve this?’, the answer is always, ‘Yes’. Opportunities arise in the most unexpected places, so be adventurous and write your own story.”

Sachini Dimingulage is a management information systems major from Kandy, Sri Lanka. She is expected to graduate in Spring 2021.

In her nomination, Sachini is recognized for her work as a Building Manager for the CSU. She is described as a strong leader and mentor and someone who keeps her priorities straight. “She is always busy, yet never lets that affect her job, relationships or other things that matter. She is focused, has a great head on her shoulders, and always keeps her values in mind. For me, she is someone I know I can rely on with anything that should need to be done.”

Sachini is also active with the MavLankans student group.

Her BEST Board quote reads: “College is a chapter in life that shapes a lifetime. Sometimes you fail. You get back up and unknowingly you inspire yourself to be better the next time.”

Katy Erdmann is the Campus Rec graduate assistant for intramural sports. she started with Campus Recreation as an undergraduate intramural sports office as well as supervisor. After graduating she returned and continues as graduate assistant of the program. Katy is responsible for the promotion, recruitment, training hiring and scheduling of over 75 undergraduate student sport officials for 10 team sports along with daily administration of those sports. A native of Dodge Center, Minn., Katy is the third member of her family to work for Campus Rec.

Her BEST Board quote reads: “Being so involved with Campus Recreation has given me the ability to improve the program and leave it better for students who come after me.”

Emely Lopez is a biomedical science major from Le Center, Minn. She is set to graduate in Spring 2022. Her involvement on campus includes:

  • Maverick Involvement Team
  • Alternative Spring Break Leader
  • Pre-Dental Club
  • Community Engagement
  • Mavs in Action                  

Twice nominated for this Spring’s BEST Board, Emely is recognized for outstanding involvement in Student Activities volunteerism and leadership programs.

One nominator stated: “She is hardworking, charismatic and personable, and because she is constantly taking initiative. I first noticed Emely’s hard-working nature with her participation at Leadership U workshops throughout the 2019-2020 school year. Emely attended a vast majority of these workshops. Not only did she attend but she was a very active participant and contributor. She was always willing to share her take on things and encouraged others to do so as well.”

A second nomination stated: “I know Emely best through her consistent attendance and participation Mav’s in Action throughout the 2019-2020 school year. In addition, she is serving as a student lead for the Alternative Spring Break trip in the spring of 2021 for the 2020-2021 school year. I have worked with her throughout the spring and fall semester of 2020. There is no doubt in my mind that Emely is the perfect Maverick representative for Best Board.”

Her BEST Board quote reads: “Campus involvement allows me to grow as a leader, but more than anything, it allows me to connect with people who are like-minded and inspire growth.”

Cat Nelson is a law enforcement and pre-law major from Eden Prairie, Minn. She is set to graduate in Spring 2021. In her nomination, Cat was recognized for:

  • Alpha Chi Omega, chapter president
  • Mavathon
  • Panhellenic Council, past president
  • Student Government Senator
  • Student Allocations Committee
  • 2019 Sorority Woman of the Year

In her nomination, Cat was recognized for her steady leadership. “Cat is a level-headed leader who takes a no-nonsense approach.  She is great at looking at the big picture and thinking about longer-term consequences of actions.  I admire this in her. “

Her BEST Board quote reads: “Minnesota State Mankato has given me a home away from home, endless opportunities to develop and hone my leadership abilities and a sense of duty to make the world a better place.”

Mohammed Sajal of Dhaka, Bangladesh, is a management information systems major. Nominated for his leadership with CSU Technical Services, he is set to graduate in Spring 2021.

In his nomination, Mohammed was viewed as a quick study. “Mohammad has been essential in aiding in the development of staff training plans within our Technical Services team. I have also witnessed that Mohammad has an incredible ability to learn new things. I have seen him pick up complex technical skills after only having them demonstrated to him once; this is not common when dealing with technically intensive equipment and events. In his time with Technical Services, he has become one of our go to staff member to handle the training of new technicians.”

Mohammed is also involved with the International Student Association, the Bangladesh Student Organization and the Association of Computing Machinery.

His BEST Board quote reads: “Don’t force yourself to fit in. Everyone is unique. Be yourself. Turst in your own ability and you will shine.”

Julie Tonsager is a music industry major from Ellsworth, Wis. She is set to graduate in Spring 2021.

In her nomination, Julie was distinquished for her work with the Student Events Team and with the MavHouse Records RSO.

“Julie came in as a quiet student leader looking to get into the music industry. She has transitioned into a student who can work with others, make decisions and speak up to her peers on important topics. Julie has taken her leadership within the Student Events Team and Mav House Records very seriously and diligently. She has taken Mav House Records to new levels by signing new artists, making the difficult decision to move on from other artists who are not meeting expectations, and organizing new events to feature their artists. This leadership has transitioned to the Student Events Team.”

Her BEST Board quote reads: “My greatest personal growth has been finding the confidence to do whatever I have my mind seton and make it a reality.”

Andrew Trenne of Chaska, Minn., is the 2020-21 Student Government President. In his nomination, he is recognized for guiding Student Government through a pandemic year while student government advance such efforts as the Immigration Attorney program for students and the Maverick Food Pantry. “Andrew has exhibited exemplary leadership,” the nomination for Andrew stated. “He is persistent, he asks good questions, and he follows through on commitments.  He wisely picks battles, and he is a strong advocate for what he believes in.  He works well with peers and faculty/staff/administrators alike.” Andrew has also been active in the Residence Hall Association.

His BEST Board quote reads: “Student leadership has helped me experience things that I could never learn in the classroom. I wouldn’t have enjoyed college without these experiences.”                         


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