UNC Asheville presented its annual student and faculty leadership awards in a special video tribute on Friday, May 8, 2020.

“While this year’s ceremony might look a little different in practice, we feel that it is important to take a moment to reflect on this academic year and celebrate the successes of our students, staff and faculty at UNC Asheville,” said Chancellor Nancy J. Cable in the video.

The university’s two most prestigious student service awards went to Corey Smith and Danielle Holtz. Faculty and staff members Trey Adcock and Colleen O’Neil also were honored, as were many others.

Danielle Holtz received the William and Ida Friday Award honoring outstanding in service to the community. Holtz was recognized for her commitment to sustainability and food justice on campus and in the Asheville community. She has served as the sustainable food procurement analyst through the Student Environmental Center, a senior senator with the UNC Asheville Student Government Association, and president of the student organization Active Students for a Healthy Environment. She has also worked closely with the Asheville-Buncombe Food Policy Council, the Asheville Poverty Initiative, and the City of Asheville Food Action Plan.

Corey Smith received the A.C. Reynolds Award and Thomas D. Reynolds Prize for his service to the campus, including continued involvement with the Student Government Association, Campus Recreation and Highsmith Student Union. He was recognized for bringing campus together to respond in times natural disasters, such as Hurricane Irma relief efforts; empowering the student senate; and engaging the student body in important conversations, including sexual health and safety, the importance of voter registration, and long-term sustainability and accountability.

Trey Adcock, chair and associate professor of interdisciplinary studies, was given the Community Connector Award for strengthening bonds between campus and community. Adcock was recognized for his work over the past decade to build a relationship between UNC Asheville and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) through service work, community engaged scholarship and student engagement. Adcock was also a key participant in the drafting of a Memorandum of Understanding between UNC Asheville and the EBCI.

Colleen O’Neil, assistant director of alumni engagement, received the Champion for Students Award. O’Neil was recognized for her passion for student development, commitment to student success and mentorship. O’Neil’s nominator said, “There isn’t anyone else who can take so much care to raise students up and help them with personal issues and academic issues. [O’Neil is] an asset to this university and the students.”

The following students and staff also were honored:

  • Aryelle Jacobsen received the Newman Civic Fellows Award from Campus Compact for her service as an engagement advisor with the Key Center for Community Engaged Learning and as community coordinator for the Student Government Association. In the local community, she is the regional manager and coordinator for Camp Girl Boss, a leadership and entrepreneurship camp for girls, and she also works with the Marvelous Math Club and In Real Life after school program with Asheville City Schools.
  • Gennie Gonzalez received the Adelaide Daniels Key Community Award for her community-engaged research on the Shiloh School as part of African Americans in Western North Carolina and Southern Appalachia Conference.
  • Elina Morrison was awarded the Carolyn Briggs Diversity Award for her service in the Student Government Association and for resurrecting the Amnesty International student organization on campus.
  • Student Organization of the Year was awarded to the Political Science Club for their work in voter registration and civic engagement on campus, and their promotion of census participation.
  • Collaboration of the year was awarded to the Asheville Campus Entertainment and Fraternity & Sorority Life, for their teamwork in hosting a successful comedy show on campus, among other projects.
  • ASIA (Asian Students In Asheville) received the Program of the Year award for their Night Market program, which included food, games and performances and attracted participants from organizations and nearby peer institutions in addition to the UNC Asheville community.
  • The student employee of the year was Sydney Scarborough for her work as a student marshal for the Installation of Chancellor Nancy Cable, Convocation, and Commencement ceremonies. She’s also assisted in planning of various campus events, such as the orientation leader and resident assistant cookout.
  • Lindsey Nystrom was awarded Intern of the Year for her work with UNC Asheville’s National Environmental Modeling and Analysis Center (NEMAC), where she helped develop a new methodology for NEMAC’s hubs analysis.
  • Bridgitt Belanger, office manager for Highsmith Student Union, was awarded Student Employee Supervisor of the Year for their support and advocacy for their student employees.
  • London Newton, newly-elected Student Body President, received the Emerging Leader of the Year award. Newton was elected as a Student Government Association senator her freshman year, and has served as a resident assistant, a student ambassador, and worked for Campus Recreation. She has developed a number of diversity and equity initiatives including designing and leading a lecture/discussion series called “Thinking Queerly” and helping the Student Environmental Center to secure funding for Greenfest. This past March, Newton was selected as a Marian Drane Graham Scholar, which provides the opportunity for students in the UNC System to develop leadership skills and gain a better understanding of key issues facing public higher education.
  • Ava Bock was given the Non-Traditional Student Leader of the Year award. Bock is involved in the student art organization, Art Front, and the Student Organization Council. In addition to being a student, Bock is a mother, wife, artist and veteran.
  • KG Brake received the Student Leader of the Year award. Brake, a graduating senior, has served as president of Asheville Campus Entertainment, building manager of Highsmith Student Union, an intern for Defenders of Wildlife, and as a student ambassador, among other roles.

UNC Asheville’s honors program also honored graduating students with awards this semester. The Phyllis G. Betts Award for Academic Excellence was given to graduating seniors Alexis Moon, an art history major; Audrey Thomas, a health and wellness promotion major; and Chemistry major Sara Wasserman, a chemistry major. They were recognized for unparalleled acumen in their interdisciplinary studies and genuine humanity in the application of their academic work.

The Honors Program Citizenship Award was given to sociology major Alayna Graves for her service in various leadership roles within the honors program, as well as her volunteer work for numerous off-campus organizations, including Pisgah Legal Services, Our VOICE, and the Asheville Buncombe Community Christian Ministry.

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