Leadership Awards ceremony to honor Fredonia student leaders for 25th year

Tuesday April 23, 2019Joshua Ranney
Lauren Orlowski
Lauren Orlowski

It’s the milestone in the semester for recognizing the accomplishments and hard work in leadership done by the students of Fredonia. For the last 24 years, the Leadership Awards Ceremony has honored Fredonia’s premier examples of dedication.

The 25th class of exemplary student leaders will be recognized on Wednesday, May 1, at 6 p.m., in the Williams Center Multipurpose Room.

Admission to the event costs $2 for students and $3 for faculty, staff and the general public.

Mark Suida, director of Campus Life, has been organizing the ceremony for the past 11 years, and also serves as the coordinator of the Leadership Studies curriculum. The annual ceremony serves to recognize students who have completed the Leadership Studies minor, as well as a number of other groups that boast members who exemplify achievement as campus leaders.

“We partner with SA (Student Association) and they present their annual Alma Mater Society award and [there are] a lot of other student groups that present,” Suida said. “For example, Latinos Unidos is presenting three awards this year. We have Spectrum Entertainment Board presenting a couple awards. And, of course, Joyce [Harvard Smith], from Volunteer and Community Service, recognizes all the student groups and individuals who put a lot of time and effort into giving back to not only our campus but the local community.”

Suida said it’s the partnership with so many different campus departments, groups and organizations that makes the ceremony so fulfilling.

“It’s nice that we can collaborate with so many different departments to honor students and all the work they do to make Fredonia a truly great place,” he said.

Something that Suida and other organizers are very excited this year is having Fredonia alumna Lauren Orlowski back to campus to be the ceremony keynote speaker. Orlowski is the development manager for the Western New York Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. In her role, she works to increase the organization’s footprint in the local community though various fundraising initiatives and marketing tactics. She leads the CFF’s young professional programs, Rising Stars and Tomorrow’s Leaders and facilitates Great Strides, a national walk fundraising initiative in Buffalo, Orchard Park and Jamestown.

“She did graduate with the Leadership minor in 2015, and she’s been involved on campus, coming back and giving some speeches here and there. But I thought she’d be a wonderful person to give the keynote address,” Suida said. "I know Lauren's going to impart great advice to students on what it takes to become a successful leader.”

The fact that Fredonia is able to recognize so many outstanding students year after year can perhaps be attributed to the campus environment that breeds and advocates for student involvement, which Suida said thanks to nearly 180 student clubs and organizations. Students have the outlets to create a fulfilling college experience.

“When you see students coming in at that jumpstart orientation, they might not know how they fit in, or [how] they belong, but then you see them grow and mature and take on leadership positions,” Suida said. “You really see them blossom.”

Suida’s favorite part of the ceremony is hearing the students’ stories of how Fredonia made a difference to them.

“We’re just very pleased that we have an opportunity to recognize them,” he said.

Overall, the purpose of the awards ceremony is to recognize students for making the most of their college careers, and acquiring skills for future careers by way of being outstanding campus leaders.

“They realize the importance of developing communication skills, leadership skills, teamwork, appreciating diversity [through] all these different club activities,” Suida said. “So we’re very proud of our students…and we’re so glad they’re taking these opportunities.”

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