Student organizations recognized with awards

Northern Kentucky University student organizations threw their Norse up as they gathered in the Student Union Ballroom to celebrate and reflect on another year of community service at NKU.

The Office of Student Life hosted the second annual Student Organization Celebration to honor students and the organizations that excelled in community service. Awards like the Northern Kentucky Leadership Institute Leadership Development Award and Academic Excellence were given throughout the evening to recognize student organizations.

Multiple student organizations from Greek life and others like Norse Force gathered for this celebration. Student organizations applied for the awards that were given out.

Individual awards also honored students who personally displayed attributes of what it means to be a leader and community servant at NKU.

The event kicked off with a slide show of pictures displaying aspects of student life through the 200 organizations at NKU. The slide show moved from picture to picture as the pop song “We are Young” by artist Fun. played throughout the dimly lit ballroom. Attendees who recognized the song hummed along.

Senior organizational leadership major Joni Riewoldt won two awards for her community service in the Best Buddies organization. Riewoldt started the Best Buddies organization at NKU. The friendship-building program matches individuals with disabilities to college-aged buddies.

“It’s really exciting that we won two awards. We are such a new organization, and we’ve grown so much this year, so it means a lot,” Riewoldt said.

The evening also included new awards.

Dean of Students Jeffrey Waple presented the Office of Student Life “Norse Up” award. During his speech, he requested that the audience “throw up their Norse” by bringing their fingers to their temples like viking-helmet’s horns each time he said “Norse Up.” Although this spurred many laughs, the audience participated.

The Baptist Campus Ministry got this award in the end but had to “throw up their Norse” to receive it.

NKU President James Votruba and his wife Rachel received several unexpected “thank yous” throughout the ceremony. A video to honor the Votrubas brought emotion to many faces, including the Votrubas themselves.

The video showed a number of students with handwritten signs describing their dreams turned reality. One student’s sign read,“I didn’t think I could afford to go to college, but now I’m going for free!”

Rachel Votruba received the Arête Panhellenic Award. Arête is Greek for “excellence.” Rachel accepted her award with a smile and teary eyes amid receiving cheers and a standing ovation.

“You have welcomed me into your community and lives. Be proud of yourselves and this university,” Rachel said.
The evening ended with a flash mob of students dancing to a song written especially for the Votrubas.
After the dancing and awards, President Votruba told a story about a mentor of his who told him to find purpose in his life.
“My hope for all of you is that you find a deep purpose for finding your dreams like I have mine. Thank you for sharing your journey with us,” Votruba said.