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Meet the 2023 Student Organization Award Winners

This year’s winners of the student organization awards focused on providing opportunities for students and alumni to share their talents, develop their skills, and interact with a community of peers. Congratulations to the 2023 awardees, and thanks to all the student organization leaders and advisors for all that you do!

Student Organization of the Year

History Student Society

History Student Society

For the second year in a row, the History Student Society won the top prize, owing to their variety of programming and high level of student engagement. In addition to holding general membership meetings a few times a year, the History Student Society held two events at which students presented their research and implemented the club’s first International Undergraduate History Conference. These events enabled participants to ask questions of presenters, network, and engage with professionals in the field. In addition, the society is planning a summer book club.

The student and alumni officer board—Emily DeRose, Heather Downing, Matthew Drake, Kristin Jones, Jessica Landers, Alexander Lane, Jeffrey McLemore, Emilie Osterfeld, Gary Rhodan, Stevie Rodriguez, Ashley Ross, Hailey Sanchez, and Sarah Shuss-Taylor—came up with and executed the ideas for the History Student Society and wrote a History Student Society Code of Civility, while their student organization advisor, Danielle Skjelver, PhD, provides support as needed to keep them on track.

Do you have an interest in history? You can join the award-winning History Student Society for free through the History Student Society virtual group on CareerQuest or learn about upcoming events through the History Café Facebook group.

Student Organization Leader Award

Heather DowningHeather Downing, History Student Society

Heather Downing joined the History Student Society while pursuing her undergraduate degree, and she continues to participate on the officer board as an alumna. In late spring of last year, Downing presented her research at a History Student Society event. In the fall, she played an integral role in the development of the International Undergraduate History Conference, including creating a graphic version of the call for proposals, reviewing proposals, finding keynote speakers, and chairing one of the three-hour conference sessions. Heather’s professionalism and accountability are a model for other student leaders to follow.

Student Organization Leader Honorable Mentions

The awards nominations highlighted the great work of UMGC’s student organization leaders this year, and thus, three additional student leaders are being recognized with an honorable mention:

Astrid GonzalezAstrid Gonzalez, American Marketing Association (AMA) Chapter at UMGC

Gonzalez was willing to step into other officer roles, including acting president, when other students had to step down, which allowed the AMA chapter to progress despite the transitions.

JuDawn LoweJuDawn Lowe, UMGC Power Speakers

Lowe has shown her dedication to the UMGC Power Speakers throughout the years, from being a charter member to volunteering to take on different officer positions each year, including as president in 2022–2023.

Brandon SutanBrandon Sutan, Novel Ideas: Book Publishing Network

Sutan’s enthusiasm and consistent participation helped the Novel Ideas: Book Publishing Network move forward in its first year as a recognized student organization.

Student Organization Advisor Award

Abby BardiAbby Bardi, PhD, Sigma Tau Delta Honor Society

In the past year, Abby Bardi, PhD, focused on increasing engagement within the UMGC chapter of Sigma Tau Delta, the International English Honor Society. She recruited two students to be co-chairs for the chapter, and she works with them to both empower and support them. She manages an effective balance of actively communicating with and helping the student leaders without taking over the planning. Thanks to her guidance, the student leaders successfully held a writing contest and their first chapter event in the past year.

Best-in-Show Activities and Events Award

International Undergraduate History Conference, History Student Society

The International Undergraduate History Conference was held in November 2022, with the goal of offering students a friendly, professional environment in which to present and share their research. Preparing for the event was a large undertaking. History Student Society members designed posters, developed forum leadership skills by serving as chairs and moderators for the sessions, and presented their work. Two virtual conference sessions were held to accommodate different time zones, and 44 participants and presenters from 9 different universities attended. “As a faculty advisor, this event was easily one of my proudest moments at UMGC and in life,” shares Danielle Skjelver, PhD. “Our students are so remarkable—this was entirely their idea. All they needed was a little guidance and support to make it a reality.”

Student organization awards nominations open in the spring semester (February–April) for work done in the past academic year. There are many ways for students to become involved in student organizations, and we encourage anyone with an interest to participate!