Student Leadership Awards Honor Excellence

May 12, 2023

The EWU community celebrated student excellence amid a backdrop of elegant tables and big band-era music inside the PUB’s NCR on Thursday, May 11.

Students – some dressed to the nines – included award nominees, their nominators, fellow club and organization members, significant others and friends. EWU faculty and staff members were peppered throughout the crowd of about 200, ready to offer heartfelt congratulations.

The celebration, presented by Student Engagement, honored the leaders among us who generously give of themselves to welcome, support, innovate and inspire – ultimately making a difference on campus and in the greater community.

Emcees Kelsey Brecek-Hatch, director of Alumni Relations, and Vanessa Delgado, director of the Multicultural Center, kept the evening on schedule with good humor and poignant storytelling.

Provost Jonathan Anderson urged future graduates to lead for change and positive growth, focus on empowering and inspiring others, and develop a shared vision in their communities.

“Lead with your true authentic self in this world and continue to lead with your heart and your passion and continue to be your amazing self,” Anderson said.

Alumna Rebecca Long (’06, ’13), quality assurance manager at Engie Impact, shared how her Eagle experience inspired her to become a leader in her field, even though she never considered herself in those terms.

Long, who earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in computer science, advocates for women, diversity, equity and inclusion in the fields of science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM).

Her passion for creating a path for others to succeed, and to advance her field, inspired her to found and co-found multiple organizations and to start a nonprofit, Future Ada. She serves on the EWU computer science and cybersecurity professional advisory board, and on boards that support STEAM at SCC and in Spokane Public Schools.

“Leadership doesn’t actually need a title or a fancy role. Leadership is a set of characteristics that a person has,” Long told attendees.

Michelle Schultz, interim director of student engagement, who has helped to organize three leadership excellence events, was moved by the story of Mayra Velasquez.

Velasquez led an effort to build a business center within Latinos En Spokane from scratch, as part of a Small Business Resilience Network grant from the Washington State Department of Commerce. Named the Empréndete Business Center, which is Spanish for Start-Up, the program created a food vendor equipment rental program to reduce barriers for low-income community members wanting to start a food vending business through farmer markets, catering and other ventures.

“When Vanessa was talking about Myria’s experience with Latinos in Spokane, it made me tear up,” said Schultz, adding, that its incredible how much transformation is created by our Eastern Eagle community.

Josh Ashcroft, senior director of Housing and Residential Life, offered his perspective on what makes the evening special: “I think what is so great about our Student Excellence Awards is it celebrates the best of our Eastern students. Our students are doing amazing things and creating amazing stories as they continue their journey as Eastern Eagles.”

Congratulations to all of the nominees – and to the following award winners:

Student of the Year: Lucas Fyre

Student Organization of the Year: EWU Exercise Science

Staff/Faculty of the Year: Alyson Rode

Social Justice Advocate: Curtis Anderson

Social Justice Advocate: Drag Show on Ice: A Fairy Tale

Community Service: Mayra Velasquez

Got Your 6 Award: Amy Laskowski

Student Sorority and Fraternity Member of the Year:

  • Fraternity: Erick Mendoza
  • Sorority: Olivia Dilling

Housing Resident of the Year: Alexandrea Nixon

Intramural Athlete of the Year:

  • Alyssa McKenzie
  • John Ornelas

Intramural Club Sports Team of the Year: Climbing Club

Club Sports Individual of the Year: Lui Carrasco