The Student Organization Achievement and Recognition held its 14th annual awards ceremony Wednesday evening honoring the contributions made to the community by the University of Georgia’s finest student organizations, student leaders and their advisors.
After attendees enjoyed refreshments and a short video, Senior Coordinator of Student Organizations Josh Podvin delivered a few opening remarks, commencing the distribution of awards in 15 different categories.
“This year we had over 170 nominations for the 15 SOAR award categories, which is incredible” said Milan Patel, director of member relations and leadership development, as he presented the first award, the Organizational Improvement Award.
The Organizational Improvement category had the most nominees, with 22 organizations, and was awarded to MEDLIFE for taking significant steps in improving its overall level of effectiveness year after year.
The second award category was Outstanding Service to the Community Award, presented to Designated Dawgs out of 18 nominated organizations.
“The students in this organization [haven’t] just offered service, but continually [have been] willing to serve their peers and the Athens community for 14 years,” said Taylor Cain, senior coordinator of student activities, who presented the award.
Most Innovative Initiative was awarded to Dawgs for Diabetes out of nine other categorical nominations, with Camp Kesem UGA receiving an honorable mention.
Presented for the first year ever, an award for Outstanding Cross-Cultural Awareness was given to Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., out of six nominated organizations for their “I Have a Dream” initiative.
The Organizational Collaboration Award was presented to HEROs at UGA, Miracle and Relay for Life for “celebrating the overlapping passion for children, pursuit of excellence and foundation for selflessness,” as stated by Jim Thompson, former vice president for Student Government Association who presented the award.
Awards were also presented for outstanding campus events. Language and Literacy Education Graduate Organization was recognized for outstanding small event while the Vietnamese Student Association received the award for large event.
The last award presented before a brief speech by the keynote speaker was the Outstanding Commitment to Social Justice Award, which was awarded to Indian Cultural Exchange out of 12 categorical nominations.
The keynote speaker was recently elected Student Government Association president Johnelle Simpson, who spoke of his journey throughout his time at the University and the importance of being involved on campus.
“In the end... it’s being intentional with your involvement and not stopping at the face of adversity that is important,” he advised to the full room at Tate Grand Hall.
Six more awards followed Simpson’s speech, the first being the Candice Sherman Emerging Leader Award presented to Hannah Middlebrooks of Lambda Alliance out of seven nominated student leaders.
The Bulldog Vision award was presented to Madison Turner, a senator for Student Government Association, for working “tirelessly to bring awareness to critical issues faced by campus, and creating and implementing problem solving solutions to serve the community,” said Dean of Students William McDonald, who presented the award.
The Pillar of the Community Award was received by Campus Kitchen of UGA out of seven nominated organizations and community members.
Receiving the award for most Outstanding New Organization was Women in Science, for high achievement and impressive membership during the organization’s first year established on campus.
The only award of the night presented to a non-student leader or organization is the Advisor of the Year category, which contained 12 nominees. Shelia Neely-Norman, advisor of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., was awarded this honor.
The final and most prestigious award of the evening was the Organization of the Year Award. The Black Male Leadership Society received a standing ovation from the crowd when the organization was announced the winner.
Megan Pendleton, senior coordinator of multicultural services and programs, shared her thoughts on the winners of this award in the ceremony program.
“The Black Male Leadership Society is not only an asset to this campus and its students, but to the Athens community as well," Pendleton said. "These students are being the change."