Dalton State Holds Fourth Annual Student Leadership Awards Banquet

Tuesday, June 10, 2014
Among the winners recognized at Dalton State’s Student Leadership Awards banquet were Hilary Wallin and Faith Stokes, recipients of the Spence Higgins Hall of Leaders Award for Excellence in Service and Leadership. From left are Dalton State President Dr. John O. Schwenn; Wallin; Stokes; Dr. Jodi Johnson, Vice President for Enrollment and Student Services; and children of the late Spence Higgins, Sally Higgins and Maynard Higgins.
Among the winners recognized at Dalton State’s Student Leadership Awards banquet were Hilary Wallin and Faith Stokes, recipients of the Spence Higgins Hall of Leaders Award for Excellence in Service and Leadership. From left are Dalton State President Dr. John O. Schwenn; Wallin; Stokes; Dr. Jodi Johnson, Vice President for Enrollment and Student Services; and children of the late Spence Higgins, Sally Higgins and Maynard Higgins.

Twenty students, faculty, staff, and student organizations were honored with awards  at Dalton State’s Fourth Annual Dalton State College Student Leadership Awards Banquet.


The Leadership Awards are handed out annually to the College’s most distinguished student leaders, student organizations, and faculty and staff that contribute to the quality of student life on campus, according to Amber Lesicko, Coordinator for Leadership and Civic Engagement in the Office of Student Life.


The Spence Higgins Hall of Leaders Award for Excellence in Service and Leadership is named in honor of the first Student Body President, the late Spence Higgins. The award is given to a select group of graduating seniors who have demonstrated excellence in campus life involvement and who, through their service, have exemplified a commitment to the positive enhancement of Dalton State College.


Faith Stokes and Hilary Wallin, winners of the Spence Higgins Hall of Leaders Award for Excellence in Service and Leadership, demonstrated “outstanding involvement in campus life and co-curricular activities,” according to Lesicko.


Ms. Stokes was lauded for her work as founding president of the Beta Chi Nu chapter of the national biology honor society, Beta Beta Beta. “She took Beta Chi Nu from an idea in our minds to the most active Registered Student Organization on campus and RSO of the year in her first year.”


“In addition to her involvement with the honor society, she found time to work with faculty graduate members of Beta Chi Nu to co-author successful grants to achieve funding from the local community foundation for new educational signs for Dalton State’s hiking trail, and in the future, a community organic garden to provide organic fruits and vegetables to our residential students and local food banks,” said Lesicko.


Hilary Wallin was honored for her “passionate, driven, and energetic” service to campus life at Dalton State. During her years as a student Wallin assisted with the Summer Bridge program, attended Alternative Spring Break trips, served on the Student Advisory council, and formed and spearheaded the Campus Activities Board from the ground up.

“She not only made a difference; she left a legacy,” according to Lesicko.  

The Shining Star Award for Outstanding Student Leadership is given to select students with 60 or more earned credit hours who have shown dedication to involvement in campus life and who have exemplified a commitment to enhancing Dalton State.


This year’s recipients of the Shining Star Awards were Malaka Awad, Shawna Ellis, Montana Gray, William Melendez, Zach Plumley, and Alycia Vail, all of whom devoted two or more years of dedicated involvement to campus life.


The Rising Star Award is given to rising student leaders with fewer than 60 earned credit hours who have shown dedication to involvement in campus life and who have exemplified a commitment to enhancing Dalton State College. This year’s recipients of the Rising Star Award were Vicki Crane, Harrison Pace and Austin Wade.


The Volunteer of the Year Award was presented to Li Wang, who served as a Students Advocating for Volunteer Efforts Leader, participated in the Alternative Fall Break trip to Buckhorn, Kentucky, and the Alternative Spring Break trip to St. Petersburg, Florida.


The recipient of the Student Employee of the Year Award was Lexi Wilson, who was described by Lesicko as “an example for all student workers and a joy to work with.”


The Unsung Hero Award for Faculty/Staff was presented to Dr. John Lugthart, Professor of Biology, who has shown time and time again his willingness to help others succeed. Of Dr. Lugthart, one of his nominators said, “I have come to count on him as one of the most reliable people I have ever worked with, and I can’t imagine what I would have done on many occasions without his knowledge, advice, and support.”  


This year’s Student Unsung Hero was Nate Baggett, who was honored for his work chartering Dalton State’s first Greek letter social fraternity, Alpha Kappa Lambda.


Dalton State’s International Club was recognized as the Registered Student Organization of the Year. The club’s mission is to promote cross-cultural understanding and international education. Malaka Awad accepted the award on behalf of the club.


This year’s Advisor of the Year Award was presented to Dr. Sarah Mergel, Associate Professor of History, who is “always available to help students and one who goes out of the way to make the students and the organization better,” according to her nominator.


The recipient of the award for Outstanding Community Service Project was Dalton State Athletics for their volunteer efforts at the Special Olympics Georgia State Fall Games in October. Athletic Director Derek Waugh accepted on behalf of student athletes.


This year’s recipient of the Outstanding New Initiative award was presented to the Campus Activities Board for their new program, “Roasted.” The program, created by the Director of the Campus Activities Board, Montana Gray, brings students together and encourages them to think critically about issues that surround them daily, all while sipping on specialty coffee.


 “The winners of these awards are a great addition to not only the Office of Student Life, but to Dalton State College and the Dalton community,” says Lesicko. “Their commitment to the campus and, more importantly, to our students, does not go unnoticed.”




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