In recognition of their leadership and contributions to WSU communities, 48 Washington State University students, 4 faculty and staff members, and several organizations will receive the Leadership and Engagement Award of Distinction (LEAD) during a ceremony at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, April 20.
The event is coordinated by the Office of Student Involvement in the Division of Student Affairs and will include the inauguration of the newly elected president and vice president of the Associated Students of Washington State University (ASWSU). Members of the WSU community are invited to join the award recipients in viewing the ceremony via live stream.
Event speakers include WSU President Kirk Schulz and Mary Jo Gonzales, vice president of Student Affairs.
The 35 undergraduate and 13 graduate and professional students receiving the Presidential LEAD Award hail from across the WSU system. Phillip Sinapati, ASWSU advisor and coordinator of the ceremony, said the number and range of the students’ leadership experiences is impressive – especially given the demands of being a full-time student.
“This is a prestigious award that recognizes students’ efforts to become leaders and, the ways they give back to the community, and empower others,” he said. “We look at how their leadership experiences have impacted them as individuals, how they influence those around them, and how they affect the greater community.”
Each award recipient has a unique story to tell about their leadership experiences. Below are a few examples of how students are making positive impacts in their communities.
WSU junior Jocelyn Granados is active in WSU’s Latinx organization M.E.Ch.A., served as a senator and external affairs chair for ASWSU, is an officer in Kappa Delta Chi Sorority, Inc., and co-chaired WSU’s CASHE Conference, which encourages Latinx high school students to go to college.
As an undocumented student from Prescott, Washington, her interest in leadership started in high school as she worked to build a competitive resume for college scholarships. The former high school student body president said her leadership experiences at WSU have allowed her to advocate for students who are experiencing the same types of challenges she has come up against.
“Through my involvement on campus, I fell in love with the undocumented community,” she said. “It has provided me mentoring and support, so I want to give back, share what knowledge I’ve gained, and inspire other students to pursue their dreams.”
Jake Berreth dreams of possibly becoming a professional flute player someday but hadn’t thought much about leadership until Sophia Tegart, an assistant professor in the School of Music, encouraged him to join the WSU chapter of Mu Phi Epsilon. Tegart believed he had the right leadership qualities to revitalize the coed fraternity for music students, and her assumption was correct. Berreth quickly became the group’s president and worked to strengthen its membership, mission, and goals. The positive impact he made in just one year prompted Tegart to nominate him for the LEAD Award. Berreth, who holds the principal position for flute in the WSU Symphony Orchestra and Wind Ensemble, is quick to point out that leadership in music may look different from leadership in other areas.
“It often more about listening than talking,” he said. “You have to pay attention to everyone around you, and just by doing your part well, you are being a leader that is helping the group play beautiful music.”
When Brian Wu was selecting a Doctor of Pharmacy program, he chose to study at WSU’s Yakima, Wash., location instead Spokane because he thought he could make a greater impact in a smaller community. He was right.
In addition to his rigorous course load, Wu serves as the Yakima chapter president of the American Pharmacist Association-Academy of Student Pharmacists and the Rho Chi Epsilon Honor Society. He also chairs the Washington State Pharmacy Association’s Yakima chapter. Through his leadership, students in these groups have played a vital role in the community’s response to COVID-19 by assisting at testing sites, giving vaccinations, and even setting up a flu clinic.
“It is important to me that students on the Yakima campus are having a special experience – one that we will all look back on and appreciate its value,” he said. “I wanted to help create opportunities to serve the community we live in, especially during these times.”
Faculty and staff also recognized
The Presidential LEAD Award also recognizes WSU faculty, staff, registered student organizations, and community organizations that have demonstrated outstanding leadership.
Four WSU faculty and staff are receiving the award: David Makin, associate professor in Criminal Justice & Criminology; Renee Petersen, professor in Civil and Environmental Engineering; Veronica Puente, director of Student Equity, Leadership & Community at WSU Spokane; and Yu-Chung Chang, a postdoctoral research associate in the Materials Science and Engineering Program.
The RSOs receiving the award are the Digital Media Club, Disabled Students and Allies Club, the Panhellenic Council, and The Lovely Sisterhood of Chi Delta Sigma Sorority, Inc. Families Together, Inc., a Pullman organization that helps individuals with disabilities, was selected in the community organizations category.