Student leaders recognized at annual awards celebration

Venderbush Award recipients Natalie Cleary and Sean McCormack
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Venderbush Award recipients Natalie Cleary and Sean McCormack
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The Kenneth R. Venderbush Student Leadership Award was presented to two students who made a significant contribution to student life at Grand Valley’s annual awards celebration April 16.

Named for former vice president of Student Affairs Kenneth R. Venderbush, the recipients of the award were Natalie Cleary, political science major, and Sean McCormack, mathematics major and elementary education minor.
 
Cleary is the current Student Senate president, a fellow at the Peter Cook Leadership Academy at the Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies, served on the executive board for the Grand Valley chapter of Phi Mu Fraternity and worked in the Grand Valley Student Life Office for three years. Cleary was accepted into the AmeriCorps Teach for America program, and will begin training to become a teacher in Atlanta upon graduation. “It’s such an honor to receive this award,” Cleary said. “I feel so humbled and blessed. It’s a great way to end my college career.”

McCormack is the president of the student group PALS Student Mentors, a peer minister for Catholic Campus Ministries, a former resident assistant and has volunteered his time tutoring at schools in Grand Rapids. He hopes to become a middle school math teacher after graduation. “This award makes all the late nights and effort worth it,” he said. “I’m honored to be chosen for this award, knowing how many student leaders there are at Grand Valley.”

The Niemeyer Awards, named for former Provost Glenn A. Niemeyer, were also presented at the annual awards celebration and they represent excellence in all academic aspects. The faculty recipients were Kathleen Bailey, professor of criminal justice and Ashok Kumar, professor of management. Undergraduate recipients were Nicholas Maki and Taryn Zyburt, and graduate student recipients were Kara Ednsley and Alexander Plotkowski.

More than 95 students were awarded a departmental honor award and eight students were presented with a Thomas M. Seykora Award for Outstanding Contribution at the event. Recipients of the Seykora award were Kelsey Curlett, Charles DeLisle, Erika DeVriendt, Justin Gray, Sydney Kilmartin, Eric Nodge, Eric Spencer and Jody Wycech.