For 29 years, the Student Leadership Awards have provided an opportunity for Webster University students and staff to celebrate the accomplishments of those devoted to bettering the Webster community.
The Student Leadership Awards ceremony was held on April 27 at the Community Music School. Dean of Students John Buck offered short remarks during the event, as well as Webster University Chancellor Elizabeth Stroble. Outgoing Student Government Association (SGA) President Hannah Jirousek also spoke at the ceremony.
Student, faculty and organization winners were recognized for a variety of accolades. The Student Employee of the Year award recognizes Webster University student employees of three or more months who exceed work expectations and improve department functioning with leadership and initiative. The Campus Life Award is presented to a student involved in extracurricular activities who utilizes their involvement with organizations to contribute to social life on-campus and act as a positive role model. The Capstone Award for Leadership acknowledges one undergraduate student who maintains a GPA of 3.5 or greater, engages with extracurricular activities and organizations across multiple departments, participates in community service, and proves to be a positive role model for other students. WebsterLEADS certificate recipients were also recognized during the ceremony.
According to Jennifer Stewart, the director of the Office of Student Engagement, the Student Leadership Awards aim to acknowledge students and staff working to improve themselves and the community. She said the various award categories recognize the multitude of ways students display leadership.
“I think the number one thing that we’re really looking for is students who are giving of themselves and of their talents in some way,” Stewart said. “For some students, that looks like being involved in lots of organizations and departments . . . For other students, that’s how they might use their communication skills to really advocate for things that they need or that they know that other students need. For some, it might be recognizing a need in the community that needs to be addressed and using whatever skills that they might have as a student and resources on campus to kind of help fill those needs.”
Campus Life Award winner Savanna Hulbert said she earned her award through networking, being active in the community and speaking out about a range of topics. She has numerous accomplishments, including founding Rhyme N Reasons, an on-campus poetry initiative, and serving as the president of the Association for African American Collegians (AAAC). She said she has found her experience at Webster to be worth the time and effort she put into these organizations.
“[The ceremony on] Wednesday night and many other nights have proved why I work extremely hard for not just myself but my community and peers. For four years, I have put more than blood, sweat and tears into Webster University’s Campus,” Hulbert said.
Hulbert is one of several student awardees who have been active leaders of the Webster community. Winner of the 2022 Student Employee of the Year award and 2022 Capstone Award for Leadership Blain McVey works as an Event Coordinator for Campus activities. He said this work has been one of his most profound experiences at Webster and has given him a “front row seat to pretty much everything that happens on campus.” He also works as comptroller for SGA and is a tour guide at the Gateway Arch. He said investing his time on-campus enriched his college experience.
McVey described himself as a student who is engaged in the classroom. He does his best to submit quality work, even if it’s right before the deadline, and appreciates feedback from his professors. Hulbert also described herself as someone who acts as a continuous learner and mentor by asking and answering questions and being active in the classroom.
Nicole Shapiro, who also won the Student Employee of the Year award, said the main qualities of students in her position are positivity and leadership. She said she wants people “to be comfortable, happy and heard.” She works to promote this through her job at the Welcome Desk in the University Center.
Hulbert, McVey and Shapiro agreed that the ceremony was an inspiring experience where they celebrated their achievements and successes, cheered one another on and laughed together. Stewart said this was the first in-person ceremony in two years and that she was excited about recognizing students face-to-face and sharing the ceremony experience with them once more.