Ceremony Applauds Student Excellence

Some of HSU's most outstanding undergraduates, nominated in eight categories of excellence by faculty, staff and fellow students, were recognized at the recent Outstanding Student Awards ceremony on May 1.

Julio Orellana, an interdisciplinary ethnic studies major, was honored as HSU’s Man of the Year. Julio, an involved student activist, worked with Accion Zapatista for more than two years, is a co-founder of the Ethnic Studies Collective, and played a crucial role in the organization of last year’s annual Dialogue on Race. He also assisted in teaching several campus ethnic studies courses.

The title of Woman of the Year was awarded to Candice Tamika Rice, also an ethnic studies major. She, too, demonstrated great achievement through her work as a teaching assistant, coordinator for the campus Dialogue on Race, and involvement with the Women’s Resource Center. Candice, who maintained a 4.0 GPA, is also the first in her family to attend college and, while attending school full-time, battled breast cancer, underwent surgery and chemotherapy, and raised a family, including a son with developmental disabilities.

Awards were also given to students from two of the academic colleges for marked excellence — maintaining a 3.5 cumulative grade point average — in their academic discipline: Biology major Vona Britz, who is a presidential scholar, biology course facilitator and developer, and HIV/AIDS healthcare advocate, was honored for the College of Natural Resources and Sciences. Geography major, Kevin G. McManigal, an NSF-NASA Undergraduate Field Science Grant recipient, West Coast Model Arab League “Outstanding Delegate,” and Leadership Education Adventure Program volunteer, received the academic excellence award for the College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences.

Jenna Washington, an international studies major and women’s basketball standout, received the award for excellence in intercollegiate athletics and sports clubs based on her accomplishments as a scholar athlete and demonstrating what it means to be a leader on and off the court. Jenna, who maintained a 3.46 GPA, was named to the Daktronics All-West Region first team and Great Northwest Athletic Conference first team. She also volunteers with the Read Across America program and for HSU Day of Caring, and coaches local youth basketball camps.

For demonstrated excellence in the fine arts, music major and violinist Anna Marshall won the award. She was a winner of the instrumental division of the HSU Concerto Competition and, among many leadership roles, has served as Concertmaster for the Humboldt Symphony.

For her work as a campus Service Learning intern, president of Students for Community Food, the director for YES House’s Hand to Hand program for foster children, and a volunteer for Humboldt Domestic Violence Services, Nichole Marie Hillyer, a child development major, was recognized for her excellence in community service.

Christina Louise Burke, a kinesiology major, received the Al Elpusan Award for student activism. She, too, is a Service Learning intern, and has volunteered with the YES House Leadership Education Adventure Program, Humboldt Domestic Violence Services, and took part in planning the Shine a Light on Sexual Assault event.

Nicole Alvarado, a communication major, was given the award for outstanding contribution to an Associated Students program. She is the current Associated Students president and serves on the President’s Cabinet. During her time in office, she has been noted for her outstanding drive, energy, and tireless commitment and dedication to representing the interest of students.

Kathryn Blaisdell, also a communication major, received the award for outstanding contribution to a campus club, program or organization. She is the team captain and a competitor for the HSU Forensics Team and has been a past director of operations for the Humboldt Orientation Program and a Leadership Conference coordinator.

Interdisciplinary studies major Lydia Hicks was honored with the Brian Lorensen Living Group Advisor Award. She is a Living Group Advisor in the residence hall’s Canyon area and a National Residence Hall Honorary inductee. Lydia is also the founder of the HSU Solutions Club and a National Dean’s List nominee.

The Patricia O. McConkey Awards, for students who demonstrated outstanding efforts on a master’s thesis or project, were awarded to social science major Deborah Waxman, for her project “Creating Affordable Housing in Humboldt County,” and Robert Holmlund, also a social science major, for his thesis “Fish, Fire, Faith, and Freedom: Infringement of Karuk Religious Freedom Through Federal Natural Resource Policy.”

John Meyer, an associate professor of government and politics, was presented the Advisor of the Year Award for his dedication to the Campus Center for Appropriate Technology. His nomination read, “His involvement goes far beyond that of signatory responsibilities, and his genuine commitment to the program has been truly touching and beyond expectation.”