SF State acclaims student leaders

SF State student Christopher Valentino receives his award in the outstanding student leader category from President Leslie E. Wong at the Dean of Students Leadership Awards at the Seven Hills Conference Center on Thursday, April 18, 2013.  Photo by Samantha Benedict / Xpress

SF State student Christopher Valentino receives his award in the outstanding student leader category from President Leslie E. Wong at the Dean of Students Leadership Awards at the Seven Hills Conference Center on Thursday, April 18, 2013. Photo by Samantha Benedict / Xpress

You know those lazy students you sometimes see in class — the ones that barely ever show up, don’t contribute to groupwork and generally are a pain in the neck?

Tonight, SF State’s Seven Hills Conference Center was filled with over 130 students, and none of them fit that description.

The 8th annual Dean of Students Leadership Awards brought some of the University’s hardest working students together in dresses and dress shirts, shiny clean Nike’s and glamorous hairdos to recognize and honor outstanding student leaders from groups and clubs all over campus.

An a cappella student singing group gave a rousing, beat box laden performance of “Somebody Like You,” and then SF State’s President Leslie E. Wong kicked off the event with a speech.

“I measure my leadership… by how well the people around me do,” Wong said. “Algebra is easy, leadership is real hard.”

The awards were selected by a committee made up of students, faculty and administrators. Organized and hosted by Dean of Students Joseph Greenwell and Director of the Student Involvement and Career Center Sarah Bauer, the ceremony specifically honored Outstanding Student Leaders, Outstanding Student Organizations, Outstanding Faculty/Staff Advisors, and Outstanding Students in Social Justice.

Greenwell started introductions for the ceremonies on a somber note, asking for a moment of silence for the victims and families of the Boston Marathon bombing.

But true to his outfit, a turquoise shirt topped with a loud but stylish purple and gold striped bow tie, Greenwell immediately voiced his happiness and pride with the nominees. No matter who won, all had their achievements, he said.

Recognized Outstanding Student Leaders were Jasmine Ferguson, Recreation Parks and Tourism Association; Yuhui Guo, Chinese Students and Scholars Association; Robert Hartstock, Earthquake Engineering Research Institute; and Christopher Valentino, Residence Hall Association.

Students and faculty went up one by one to collect their plaques, which were introduced by Greenwell and handed to them with a handshake by President Leslie E. Wong.

Harstock, 28, was a student decorated with honorable recognitions this evening, but prominent among his feats was helping to organize a low cost robotics competition for high school students in conjunction with UC Berkeley.

“One (of my) students said winning the competition was better than getting into Harvard,” Harstock said. A broad shouldered, tall guy with a goatee, Harstock said he was proud to help younger students learn science. “They can get disheartened so easily,” he said.

Two students, Angel Ku and Lexi Adsit were recognized with Social Justice awards, for “critical approaches to learning in and out of the classroom, social concerns within the SF State, Bay Area and/or larger communities,” according to the official form for award nominees.

Greenwell noted the success of Adsit’s “Queer yo Mind” conference, which had LGBT workshops that challenged the traditional ideas of gender identities and helped spawn the first Queer Resource Center at SF State. Adsit said that though the award was great, more work still needed to be done.

“I worked my butt off the past four years,” she said. But, after graduating in five weeks, she will be “excited about coming back, and seeing the legacy of Queer yo Mind.”

Faculty and staff advisors were also recognized. Amy Chang of ASCEND and Todd Feldman of the Financial Analysis and Management Education group were awarded.

The faculty volunteered their time for their groups, Greenwell noted, completely unpaid.

Outstanding Student Organization awards were given to me Lambda Theta Alpha Latin Sorority, inc. and the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association. The NSSLHA fundraiser for an Asperger support group, and organized a campus event addressing Tramautic Brain Injuries.

Nominations were sent through a web form, and over 100 nominees were considered. It was their highest response in the history of the awards, Greenwell said.

As the awards attendees filed out of the conference room for the buffet outside, student Christopher Valentino, who was recognized for his work developing alcohol workshops for the Resident Hall association, said it was important to remember that no one can be a leader without a team.

“It’s very humbling,” he said, “But I couldn’t have done it by myself.”

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