Leadership students celebrate annual achievements

Jack Van Dam excitingly mingles with guests at the beginning of the Leadership Institute spring banquet April 19.

Amy Reinhardt

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.”

This Dr. Seuss quote, along with many others, was spoken during the Leadership Institute banquet as students celebrated their yearly achievements. The banquet occurred at 6:30 p.m. April 19 in the Gage Park Shelter House.

Leadership Institute students, faculty and community members gathered together for a series of recognition and awards along with an Olive Garden-catered dinner.

Jack Van Dam, junior political science major, said the banquet’s purpose was to recognize students, faculty and community members who have stepped up to serve the organization during the year.

The theme of the banquet, selected by Lauren Overkamp, was Dr. Seuss. The establishment was decked with colorful table decorations and various props relating to the children’s book series.

“Lauren was so on top of it this year theme-wise,” said Sarah Edelman, junior business management major. “The theme was playful and unique, which provided a fun and relaxing atmosphere for guests.”

Throughout the evening, awards were announced and given to several members of the organization. Abraham Pfannenstiel, freshman political science major, was one of the numerous students who was recognized. Pfannenstiel was nominated and won the Emerging Leader award.

“I was very honored and very humbled to receive this award,” Pfannenstiel said. “However, this award wouldn’t have been possible without the incredible leadership of other freshmen who have impacted the organization so much this year.”

In addition to the award segment, the outgoing Student Leadership Council members were recognized and new council members for the upcoming year were announced. The two highest positions within the SLC are the Student Leadership Council Fellow and Leadership Challenge Event Fellow.

Edelman and Madison Wiegers, senior health services administration major, served in these roles during the 2015-2016 year. For this upcoming year, Ryan Kelly, junior international business and marketing major, was named the Student Leadership Council Fellow.

“I am super excited for the opportunity to influence incoming freshmen and current members and promote the same kindness that was shown to me when I started in the Institute,” Kelly said.

Edelman will be replacing Wiegers in the role of Leadership Challenge Event Fellow. Edelman said each year provides her with new opportunities, which she is looking forward to pursuing with Kelly by her side.

After serving as the Leadership Challenge Event Fellow for the past year, Wiegers will be graduating in December with a degree in health services administration. All her hard work and dedication did not go unrecognized at the banquet. Michael Gleason, director, and Lauren Edelman, associate director, both spoke highly of Wiegers during the celebration.

“I am so grateful for all the support I’ve received that has helped mold me into a leader,” Wiegers said. “Hearing the nice words they had to say made it all the more personal.”

With the group of seniors departing from the Leadership Institute, the mass of juniors will be rising to the occasion to continue bringing the same level of success to the organization. Marissa Dake, junior corporate communication studies major, is one of those juniors.

“My favorite part of the banquet was seeing each of the seniors be recognized,” Dake said. “I have gotten to know all of them, and each one inspires me in the dedication they’ve given to the institute.”

Gleason said he enjoyed the direction the students took the spring banquet this year and has high hopes for the upcoming year.

“We’re really going to try to engage a broader range of student interests, and our primary hope is to inform new students that they truly have the power to influence this organization,” Gleason said.