Busy month for SMSU

As the academic year comes to a close, April is a busy month for recognizing the many accomplishments of our students and staff. Numerous events across campus celebrate the achievements and hard work that have occurred this past year. All of these recognition events lead up to the most important one: Commencement, on May 11, when 618 students will receive their diplomas.

A great honor for me each year is the selection of award winners for three Minnesota Campus Compact Awards: the President’s Student Leadership Award; the President’s Civic Engagement Steward Award; and the President’s Community Partner Award. Minnesota Campus Compact is a network of colleges and universities committed to providing civic engagement and service-learning opportunities for all students. With this commitment, we all become more fully engaged with our communities and work together to educate citizens, solve problems, and build a strong democracy.

The President’s Student Leadership Award recipient this year is Aaron Bible. A senior from St. Cloud, Aaron is one of the most involved students on campus. He serves as an Orientation Leader; an Admissions Ambassador; he is on the Residential Life staff; he trains Schwan Company employees as part of the company’s health initiative with Exercise Science; he is active in the Exercise Science Club; is a member of the Student Association Executive Board; and is an announcer on many Mustang football and basketball broadcasts.

As is clear, Aaron goes above and beyond to welcome students to campus, share with others what it means to be a Mustang, and model the importance of being involved in the campus and community.

The President’s Civic Engagement Steward Award recipient is Dr. Emily Deaver. The popular inspirational Environmental Science professor has made a lasting impact on the University and in the community. She coordinates the annual Undergraduate Research Conference, where students from across numerous academic areas display their research. She leads the annual Redwood River Monitoring Project, a collaboration between SMSU students, Marshall High School and Middle School students; the partnership involves SMSU students teaching high school students, who in turn teach junior high students about the testing process.

She also established a partnership with ADM for a DNR Adopt-A-River program where students team with ADM personnel to clean a stretch of the river annually. Most recently, Professor Deaver earned a Minnesota Environmental and Natural Resources Trust Fund Grant to expand the Redwood River Monitoring Project to include SMSU Agricultural Education students mentoring high school FFA students.

Dr. Deaver fosters a culture among students and colleagues that promotes engagement and service to form strong partnerships and make a difference in Marshall and the region.

Finally, the President’s Community Partner Award was presented to Pat Thomas and See Moua-Leske of the Southwest Adult Basic Education program. Pat recently retired as director of Adult Basic Education (ABE) services for the community of Marshall and See Moua-Leske now serves as director.

Prior to Pat’s retirement, she was instrumental in making one last project come to fruition. She worked with Dan Baun, SMSU Chief Information Officer, and SHOT Regional Director, to secure a grant to make Adult Basic Education services available online. The grant for ABE allows the program to access 300 Adobe Connect licenses, so those seeking ABE services no longer have to be on site – they can take classes online from anywhere.

Pat and See’s work with Southwest ABE has created a support network that collaborates on educational enrichment opportunities for the community, adult learners who are immigrants and established residents, at the same time as engaging SMSU students through internships and tutoring opportunities.

These award recipients are just several examples of the remarkable people on our campus and in our community who foster a culture of civic engagement and community partnerships that contribute to the public good for the betterment of all.