Oklahoma Wesleyan University closed the book on another year during Friday’s Honors Chapel ceremony, celebrating those students who have gone above and beyond during the 2020-2021 academic year.
Various categories of awards were presented, including academic honors from each of OKWU’s five schools, student life recognition, and athletic achievement honors. Faculty and staff were also recognized, both by student-focused awards and honors from their peers. Dr. Jon Ensor received both the Student Government Faculty of the Year Award and the peer-recognized Promising Teacher Award. Kirk Kelley received Student Government’s Staff Member of the Year Award, and Professor Rosimar Truitt received the Excellence in Teaching Award.
The highlight of the ceremony was the presentation of the Joe Straight Servanthood Award. Typically, this honor is presented to a student who goes and above and beyond in their service to the university and community. In a poignant twist this year, and in recognition of the servant leadership displayed by the students and professors within OKWU’s Nursing Department, Ben Rotz, Associate Vice President for Student Development, presented the award to all of the students within the School of Nursing.
“There’s a group of students here who have gone above and beyond in extraordinary ways this year,” Rotz said. “Not only in keeping up with academics, but in volunteering and putting in extra time with [the pandemic].”
While the group award came as a surprise, it was a meaningful honor for the students.
“I felt appreciated and recognized for the crazy year it’s been with COVID [happening] during nursing school,” Callie Brezillac, a senior nursing student, said. “I felt honored that OKWU decided to give the award to us nursing students, because I know there are so many other students who have [also] been working so hard during this time.”
For Emily Balliviero, another senior nursing student, the award served to signify the important role that those in the healthcare industry play. “The pandemic made me realize just how important nursing is,” she said. “Going into this field, it was never my goal to be a hero. I just wanted to help others in a time of vulnerability. I was thankful for the opportunity to serve as a nurse extern during the pandemic, to experience learning opportunities while working as a helping hand.”
The Junior Marshalls were announced for Saturday’s Commencement ceremony, and President Dunn and Dr. Dalene Fisher, Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, led a time of recognition for those who have achieved a spot on the President’s and Dean’s list for the Spring 2021 semester.
Read the complete list of honorees here.