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Interim Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion, Dr. Russel Morrow, shakes hands with student before presenting award.

Students honored for Leadership Awards

The 41st annual Leadership Awards on Wednesday honored five organizations and 39 students for their dedication to the Ohio University and Athens communities. 

The Division of Student Affairs and the Division of Diversity and Inclusion hosted the event and offered it in-person at Baker University Center Ballroom and online. 

Russell Morrow, interim vice president of diversity and inclusion, said he hopes the Leadership Awards serve as a reminder to students that anyone can be a leader. 

“For my division and my team, it’s just about recognizing the broad scope of what leadership is and helping students realize that there is not one way to be a leader,” Morrow said. “Being a leader doesn't mean you have to be a president of an organization.”

The awards ceremony was divided into four categories: diversity and allyship, outstanding leadership, service and student organizations. Before the awards presentation, event organizers scheduled time for student leaders, Athens residents, university officials and friends and family to gather and celebrate the success and hard work of the recipients. 

Students from the All-Campus Radio Network celebrate outstanding programming award.

Members within the university are called upon to recognize student leaders and organizations and complete a brief nomination form. After the initial nominations, students and organizations are encouraged to apply for recognition for contributions. Following the application process, committees assemble to evaluate applicants and select the winners – the committee members are made up of students, faculty and staff across OU.

Kelsi Saunders, LGBTQIA+ senator and a freshman studying philosophy, said she was excited about the Leadership Awards because it presented an opportunity to work with other students and find out other students’ passions.

Saunders won the individual and organizational Stonewall Student Leadership awards. She said through Student Senate, she wants to continue to reach out to students to support, value and welcome them. She said she wants students to know there are resources for them on campus. 

The Dr. Patti McSteen Award was created to honor Patti McSteen, former interim senior associate vice president of student affairs and dean of students, and her legacy at OU and involvement in creating the Margaret Boyd Scholar’s Program. 

“It’s my hope that it helps the recipients realize their aspirations,  pursue their passions, and create impactful contributions within their communities – and ultimately give back to the program with support and mentorship to the Margaret Boyd Scholars to come,” McSteen said. “I hope that recipients realize that demonstrating courage in leadership makes a difference.”

Both Cierra Smith-Carter, a second-year master’s student pursuing social work, and Diamond Allen, a second-year master’s student pursuing social work, received the Dr. Patti McSteen award. The co-honorees created The Outlet, an organization aimed to support Black, indigenous and other students of color. 

Smith-Carter and Allen were awarded the Dr. Patti McSteen award because they were in the Margaret Boyd Scholars Program as undergraduate students. 

“We've really put all of our heart and soul into making that space available and it's been relatively successful,” Smith-Carter said. “'Patti McSteen is such an inspiration to me. I can't even imagine that I got this award in her honor. I'm so, so honored.” 

Other notable recipients include Senate President, Megan Handle, who was awarded the Women’s Issues Leadership award for the second consecutive year. She credits much of her success to her involvement with the Senate.

“Student Senate in general gives students a great place to develop leadership skills and advocate for issues that they're passionate about,” Handle said. “A lot of the work that is being rewarded … is because of the foundational knowledge and opportunities I've had.”

Outside the Senate, organizations such as Medical Students for Choice, Black Student Cultural Programming Board, All-Campus Radio Network and Student Anthropology Society also won awards for outstanding allyship, leadership and community service.

Interim Vice President of Advancement Lyn Redington and Morrow presented the awards to students, emphasizing the need to recognize student leaders. 

“We have students who come from all over and find their niche,” Morrow said. “They find their communities and they figure out how they can thrive. They make our university better in the process. (They) challenge and motivate us as university leaders to make sure that we are doing everything that we can to provide the best experience for our students.”


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