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Pitt State hosts 2023 Leadership Awards 

Winners of this year’s Golden Gorilla award pose at the 2023 leadership awards on April 14th. The Golden Gorilla award is given out to students for efforts in serive, involvment, and academics.

Curtis Meyer reporter 

Pitt State hosted the 2023 Leadership Awards this past week, on April 14th. In its 27th straight year, the Leadership awards at Pitt State are a wonderful way for the school and its members to recognize students who have gone above and beyond this academic year.  

“This year was really great because we had a very robust number of organizations that were recognized. I think there were 9 different organizations between events and organizational awards. Some years somebody will win an event and organizational award, but this year it was wide open,” said Eva Sager, the Associate Director for Campus Activities and the person responsible for the event.  

The ceremony lasted for about an hour and a half, as each set of awards was doled out on this year’s outstanding students. After the welcome introduction by Sager, Jeff Steinmiller, director of the Overman Student Center, gave out scholarships to students.  

Following this, the Office of Inclusion and Belonging gave out their own set of awards, handed out by Nicolle Murphy, the Assistant Director for Student Diversity Programs. Sager then reappeared on stage to hand out the Fraternity and Sorority awards.  

Dezirae Hamrick, the program coordinator for campus activities, took the stage to dole out more awards and celebrate seniors Morgan Blubaugh and Cole Chapman for their election as the homecoming queen and king.  

“It’s a real honor, I feel extremely lucky to be able to do everything I’ve done here. Pittsburg State has given me a lot of different opportunities and I’m extremely thankful for everything the school, the students, and the community did for me,” said Chapman.  

This was followed by the student organization awards, presented by Sager and Tarynn Brenner, the Student Government Association President. With awards given for collaboration of the year, community impact of the year, program of the year, presidential award of multiculturalism, horizon award, and organization of the year. Each award is given to an organization on campus that has been nominated.  

Following this, the winners of the student opportunity grant were given out by Brenner and Kayley Smith, the student government grants chair. This grant was created as an opportunity for students to pursue their educational dreams.  

The Good Apple award was then handed out by Dr. Jon Barlow, the director for alumni and constituent relations. Given to a recent graduate who is putting into practice what it means to be Gorilla and is making an impact in his or her career and community. This year’s winner was Tadd Lucian, who graduated with his bachelor’s in 2014 and his master’s in 2018 and serves as human resources professional.  

The Golden Gorilla awards were then given out by Kathleen Flaherty, vice president for university advancement and Sager. Juniors and non-graduating seniors were recognized for their efforts in service, involvement, and academics.  

Finally, the outstanding senior awards were given. Presented by Provost and vice president for academic affairs Dr. Howard Smith and by Brenner, 15 finalists were named, but only two were chosen for the award in a tradition dating back to the beginnings of Pitt State University. 

The winners this year were Cole Chapman and Taylor Brynds. An overall balance of academics, involvement, leadership and service experiences are all considered as factors in determining this esteemed award.  

“It was such an honor and such a surprise for me, it feels great to be recognized. There were so many people who were up there as finalists who were so deserving, so I just felt very honored,” said Brynds.  

“I wouldn’t be here today without the people who backed me up, without my family, the organizations and the members that make them up. I wouldn’t be here without the people that I work with, I’m just extremely thankful to be in the position I’m in,” said Chapman.  

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