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Student Life Awards Recognizes Leadership and Co-Curricular Activities

Lander University recently recognized its co-curricular standouts for the 2016-17 academic year. Hosted by the division of Student Affairs, the annual Student Life Awards is an evening of celebration honoring the achievements of Lander's finest student leaders.

Award recipients of the 2017 Student Life Awards are:

Kate Schwartz and Richard Cosentino
Kate Schwartz with Dr. Richard Cosentino

Lander University President's Award
Kate Schwartz, of Greenwood, S.C., received the President's Award, given annually in recognition of unique exemplification of the ethic of service to the university community.

In addition to serving as a Presidential Ambassador, Schwartz participates in the university's Honors College program and is a member of the Alpha Chi Honor Society. She has served as president of Blue Key Honor Society and secretary of TriBeta Biological Honor Society.

A member of the Lander Volleyball team, Schwartz received the Peach Belt Presidential Honor Roll - Gold Leaf Level for Volleyball in the fall of 2013 and 2014.



Samuel and Laura Lander Man and Woman of the Year Awards
Corey "Blake" Duncan, of Pendleton, S.C., and Haley Moore, of Charlotte, N.C., were named 2017 Lander Man and Woman of the Year. Honoring Samuel and Laura Lander, the awards recognize students who demonstrate the true spirit of Lander and encourage others to pursue excellence in all aspects of collegiate endeavors. Recipients should also have exhibited high aspirations and noble humanitarian qualities of character in all aspects of campus life.

Blake Duncan
Blake Duncan

A senior majoring in mass communications, Blake Duncan, is Lander Man of the Year. Duncan serves as president of the University Programming Council (UPC), where he oversees the student group responsible for bringing entertainment to campus. Not only does Duncan help coordinate activities for students, he also works for the Special Events Tech Crew in setting up audio and visual for events campus-wide.

Over the past two summers, Duncan guided incoming freshman through orientation programs as an EXPO Leader. As a junior, he represented his class as a senator in the Student Government Association (SGA).

A brother of Tau Kappa Epsilon Fraternity, Duncan reaches out to the community by assisting with highway beautification projects and toy drives for disadvantaged children in the area, as well as participating in fundraising events that benefit agencies such as the Bowers-Rodgers Children's Home, Big Oaks Rescue Farm for abused and neglected animals, and St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital.

In addition to his title as Man of the Year, Duncan was chosen to join Lander's Hall of Leaders in recognition of his exceptional involvement with campus life and extracurricular activities.

Haley Moore
Haley Moore

A senior pursuing a bachelor's degree in exercise science, Haley Moore, is Lander Woman of the Year.

A Presidential Ambassador, Moore leads future Bearcats and their families along campus tours and assists with other duties for the office of Admissions.

In addition to being Lander's Woman of the Year, Moore received honors as the Presidential Ambassador Superior Senior and is included in the elite group of students named to Lander's Hall of Leaders.

An enthusiastic young woman, Moore is a member of the Lander "Sassy Cats" dance team and was chosen as the team's MVP in 2014. She has been involved in the Bearcat Nation Spirit Organization, the Physical Education and Exercise Studies (PEES) Club and the Lander Presidential Ambassadors Scholarship Organization.


Greek Woman of the Year

Jessica Grooms
Jessica Grooms

Jessica Grooms, of Greenwood, S.C., received honors as the 2017 Greek Woman of the Year.

The award is presented to a junior or senior student in one of Lander's female Greek chapters who has demonstrated a commitment to excellence in Greek life.

A dedicated sister of Zeta Tau Alpha (ZTA), Grooms has held multiple titles within her sorority including Vice President of Programming, Vice President of New Member Education, Philanthropy Chairman, Music Chairman, Alumnae Relations and Secretary for the organization's Programs Council.

Her nominator wrote that Grooms is one of the most compassionate people she has ever seen, "a hard worker" and "capable of being friends with anyone." As Rho Chi in the National Panhellenic Conference, she provided support and guidance to those women participating in the recruitment process.

A junior majoring in English secondary education, Grooms' accomplishments go beyond Greek life. She is a member of the PEES Club, Lander's English Club and the international English honor society, Sigma Tau Delta. Volunteer projects include lending a hand with the construction of Lander's Habitat for Humanity House, delivering meals for the United Way of Greenwood, and helping with events for Connie Maxwell Children's Home and the Bowers-Rodgers Children's Home


Other awards presented at the ceremony were:

Presidential Ambassador Awards
Presented to Bailey Davidson, of North Augusta; Katie Sherfield, of Laurens, S.C., and Haley Moore, of Charlotte, N.C. The awards recognize outstanding leadership, superior work ethic, and service above and beyond the expectations of the Presidential Ambassador program. Recipients have demonstrated enthusiasm, friendliness, courteousness and the ability to work well with others.

Campus Recreation Student Employee of the Year Award
Reid Allen, of Cross Hill, S.C., received the Student Employee of the Year award from the Office of Campus Recreation. The award is presented to the individual who best personifies the mission and vision of the campus recreation department, and one who goes above-and-beyond their job responsibilities for the betterment of students and the Lander community.

"Without his work ethic, personality, and commitment to our department, we would be at a huge loss." reflected Matthew Gilstrap, director of Campus Recreation. "His treatment of patrons and dedication to his job proves him to be a great asset to the Campus Recreation department. We are grateful for Reid and how he represents our department."

Partners in Health Care Award
Presented to Teresa Roy, a representative of Cornerstone. The Partners in Health Care Award recognizes individuals who have assisted the Wellness Center in contributing to the health and well-being of Lander's students. The agency provides drug and alcohol awareness material and program resources on campus. Cornerstone is a treatment center that serves those impacted by substance abuse in Greenwood, Edgefield, McCormick and Abbeville counties.

Lander University Organization of the Year Award
Presented to Zeta Tau Alpha (ZTA), the award recognizes the student organization which, through its activities and projects, has had the most significant positive influence on Lander and the surrounding community.

The award is based on the number and quality of campus events held, the amount of community service performed, involvement with campus events, and the initiative to further advance the education of Lander's students beyond the classroom.

During the past academic year, members of ZTA volunteered with numerous breast cancer awareness events and assisted local agencies including the United Way of Greenwood, MEG'S House, Greenwood Food Bank, Habitat for Humanity, Connie Maxwell Children's Home, and Bowers-Rodgers.

James "Curtis" Harkness Diversity Award
Presented to Kendrick Kinard, a chemistry major from Greenville, S.C. The award recognizes a junior or senior who has typified model citizenship, outstanding student leadership and high academic achievement, and who has been the most effective in advancing the concerns of multicultural students.

Kinard's essay on diversity describes his belief that "diversity at Lander is a prominent component that makes this university unique" and that his experiences as a student have "played an instrumental role" in his life. Kinard concludes that "diversity and multiculturalism are not based on race alone," but on the "unique qualities, traditions and walks of life that make us who we are."

The Diversity Award honors Curtis Harkness, alumnus and former captain of the1982-84 Men's Basketball team. Harkness's career moved into Student Affairs where he developed diversity and training programs that made a positive influence on many students.

New Student Leader Award
Presented to Sarah Drake, of Columbia; Jordan House, of Gilbert; and Elizabeth Robertson, of Saluda. This award recognizes first-year freshmen or transfer students who have been actively involved in contributing time and energy to learning leadership and serving the Lander community.

Transfer Student Award
Presented to Hunter Ellis, of Summerville, S.C., a junior majoring in history with a minor in secondary education. The Transfer Student Award recognizes the unique role of transfer students to the campus community. Recipients of the award must demonstrate a successful, seamless transition to the institution.

The nominator described Ellis as a transfer student who "came to Lander ready to work." Bringing experience as a tour guide at his former college, Ellis quickly stepped into the position of Presidential Ambassador. As the face of Lander University, he leads tours for prospective students and their families, welcomes visitors attending performances and works in the office of Admissions.

Ellis is Recruitment Chairman for the Lander Bass Fishing Team and founded the university's chapter of Ducks Unlimited, in which he serves as club president.

The Betty Williams Unsung Hero Award
Presented to sophomore Jared Burgess, a chemistry major from West Columbia, S.C. Named in honor of Lander alumna and former librarian Betty Williams, the award recognizes students who, through their behind-the-scenes involvement in student life, have exemplified a commitment to enhancing Lander campus life.

Burgess was chosen for this award because of "his involvement in so many aspects of student life impacting both current and prospective students in an exemplary manner," said one of his nominators. He serves his fraternity, Delta Sigma Phi, as Sergeant at Arms on the executive board; and represents the university as Presidential Ambassador. "Jared is extremely humble," noted the nominator "and expects no recognition."

Advisor of the Year Award
Myra Greene, of Greenwood, received the student organization Advisor of the Year award for her leadership role in advising the Lander Players, a club for those students interested in the theatre. Greene's nominator wrote, "She treats us like one of her own, and her heart of gold makes the experience wonderful." The nominator continued by saying that with Greene's help, the organization was given educational opportunities in theatre they might not have experienced otherwise.

In addition to her role as organization advisor, Greene is the director of Alumni Affairs and Annual Giving at the university. She has an extensive background in the theatre including a Master of Arts in Theatre History from the University of South Carolina; and studying at the Burt Reynolds Institute for Theatre Training. Greene has served as the artistic executive director for the Greenwood Community Theatre and as executive director for the Greenwood-Lander Performing Arts.

Intramural Sports Athlete of the Year Award
Rush Owen, of Greenwood, S.C., was recognized with the Intramural Sports Athlete of the Year Award for 2016-17. Owen is a junior pursuing a degree in business administration with emphasis in marketing and management. The title is bestowed upon individuals who participate at the highest level within the intramural program, taking advantage of the numerous intramural sports offered each year.

Intramural Sports Team of the Year
Led by Team Captain Thomas Silon, of Beaufort, S.C., the Versace Pythons took top honors as Intramural Sports Team of the Year for 2016-17. Given to the Lander Intramural team that displays athletic excellence and outstanding achievement, as well as demonstration of acts of sportsmanship throughout the entire school year. This team also takes advantage of all the various leagues and tournaments the Lander Intramural department has to offer.

Hall of Leaders
Presented to a select group of seniors who have demonstrated outstanding involvement with campus life and extracurricular activities, and who, through this service, have exemplified a commitment to the positive enhancement of the Lander campus. Students selected for this award have given selflessly of their time and leadership to campus organizations, have made a significant contribution to the campus community, and have encouraged and motivated others in their organizations.

Receiving the Hall of Leaders Award for 2017 are:

  • Anna Reeps, of Simpsonville, S.C.
  • Clare Henry, of Aiken, S.C., music education
  • Corey "Blake" Duncan, of Pendleton, S.C.
  • Haley Moore, of Charlotte, N.C., exercise science
  • Hunter Ellis, of Summerville, S.C., history
  • Justina Teale, of Barnwell, S.C.
  • Kate Schwartz, of Greenwood, S.C., biology
  • Kendrick Kinard, of Greenville, S.C., chemistry
  • Monica Cleland, of Greenville, S.C., mass communications
  • Shauna Fletcher, Summerville, S.C., biology

Resident Assistant of the Year Award

The Office of Housing and Residence Life presented Ayana Gilliyard, a junior from McClellanville, S.C., with the Resident Assistant (RA) of the Year Award. Gilliyard is pursuing a degree in business and health care management.

Impressing coworkers with her organizational skills and positive attitude, words like "amazing," "kind," "caring" and "supportive" are scattered among the glowing comments of her advocates.

Peer RA's and housing staff describe Gilliyard as a "great leader" who is committed to the job. "This RA will give you the shirt off her back if you need it," noted one Resident Assistant. "She is always willing to lend an extra hand or answer questions," said another. "Not once have I ever heard Ayana complain about doing more to go above-and-beyond. She loves her job and shows it!"

Outstanding Student Award
Thirteen freshmen received the Outstanding Student Award for the 2016-17 academic year. Nominated by their University 101 professor, the students demonstrated leadership, scholarship or citizenship during their initial year of studies at Lander University. The required course provides first-time freshmen and new transfer students with the resources and educational tools needed to adjust to college life.

Receiving the Outstanding Student Award are:

  • Hannah Gallant, of Anderson, S.C, mass communications and media studies
  • Juan Brown, of Greenville, S.C., nursing applicant
  • Sarah Floyd, of Troy, S.C., English
  • Cody Barr, of Pauline, S.C., computer information systems and networking
  • Joseph Plyler, of Ruby, S.C., mass communications and media studies
  • Faith Alexander, of Clover, S.C., business administration
  • De'Areyes Bryant, of Calhoun Falls, S.C., English
  • Ashley Dever, of Lexington, S.C., visual arts/graphic design
  • Haley Elkins, of Roebuck, S.C., pre-nursing
  • Naomi Mobley, of Simpsonville, S.C., business administration
  • Nicolette Nieto, of Myrtle Beach, S.C., pre-nursing
  • Jing Ren, of Qingdao, China, English
  • Lizzie Singletary, of Pamplico, S.C., nursing applicant
  • Jennifer Tapp, of Pickens, S.C., elementary education
  • Treneisha Whiteside, of Rock Hill, S.C., pre-nursing
  • Renee Cooper, of Greenwood, S.C., history
  • Charlotte Burgess, of Moore, S.C., pre-nursing


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