LAWRENCE — Ten finalists have been selected for the 26th annual Excellence in Community, Education and Leadership Awards at the University of Kansas. The finalists, all seniors, will participate in the Homecoming parade at 6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 21, along Massachusetts Street in downtown Lawrence. Two winners, one male and one female, will be announced during halftime of the KU-Oklahoma State Homecoming football game Saturday, Oct. 22, at Memorial Stadium.
The Ex.C.E.L. Award provides an annual $500 scholarship to two students. The winners will present at the Blueprints Leadership Conference next spring in conjunction with KU’s Student Involvement and Leadership Center. Nominees were selected on the basis of leadership, effective communication skills, involvement at KU and in the Lawrence community, academic scholarship and ability to work with a variety of students and organizations. The selection committee included representatives from Student Union Activities, the Board of Class Officers, the Student Involvement and Leadership Center and the Homecoming Steering Committee.
The award was first given in 1991 to recognize one male and one female student for achievement. Names of winners are listed on a plaque on the fifth level of the Kansas Union. To be eligible, applicants must be full-time undergraduate students with an overall grade-point average of 3.0 or higher. Each finalist completed an application and participated in an interview. The finalists and their academic majors are listed below, along with highlights of their campus achievements.
Stephonn Alcorn, finance, is student body president. He was a member of Student Senate, where he served as director of government relations, and he also served as director of member and leadership development of the Interfraternity Council. He has been a peer mentor for the School of Business and the Black Student Union. He is a first-generation college student and Hawk Link graduate.
Kevin Tenny, chemical engineering, is an engineering student senator and co-founded the Electrochemical Society at KU. He has worked for three years as a teaching assistant for the Kansas Algebra Program, and he has conducted research at Iowa State University, the University of South Carolina and MIT. He was awarded the national Barry M. Goldwater scholarship in spring 2016.
Sean Murray, business and journalism, is president of the Student Endowment Board and vice president of the advertising club. He is a member of Beta Sigma Psi fraternity, where he serves as recruitment chair.
From Prairie Village
Elizabeth Gray, business management and applied behavioral science, serves on the Panhellenic Association, where she is director of interfraternal relations and member development. She is a member of Kappa Alpha Theta sorority and is a CARE sister. She is president of the Society of Human Resources Management Club and works as a peer instructor and adviser in Business Career Services.
Rajvi Shah, neurobiology, psychology and French, was president of the Honors Program Student Council. She served on the Student Health Advisory Board and the executive boards of MEDLife KU, the KU Society of Scientists and the South Asian Student Association. In 2015, she was honored as a KU Woman of Distinction, and she received the Kathleen McCluskey-Fawcett Outstanding Contribution Award in 2016.
BreShawna Briggs, management and leadership with a minor in leadership studies, was vice president of Mortar Board. She has been involved with the Kansas Women’s Leadership Institute for three years, and she helped found the Women’s Leadership from the Heartland Program. She was the finance coordinator for Alternative Breaks.
Abdoulie Njai, human biology, is director of diversity and inclusion in Student Senate and president of the Minority Association of Premedical Students. He is a member of Phi Delta Epsilon premedical fraternity, where he serves as academic chair.
Travis Kesinger, elementary education, is a member of Alpha Tau Omega fraternity and serves as director of member development and leadership on the Interfraternity Council. He is executive director of KU Dance Marathon and a member of the University’s Task Force on Sexual Assault. He was student leadership coordinator for the Student Involvement and Leadership Center, and he served on the executive board for KU’s Big Event.
Katie Gerard, supply chain management and information systems, is president of the supply chain management club and senior vice president of Delta Sigma Pi business fraternity. She is vice president of administration for the School of Business Ambassador Program, and she also serves as a teaching assistant and peer mentor in the school. She has served on the Homecoming Steering Committee for two years.
From Blue Springs
Jordan Hildenbrand, chemical engineering, is a member of the Self Engineering Leadership Fellows Class of 2016 and a KU Admissions student ambassador. She is a member of Delta Gamma sorority and has served on the Homecoming Steering Committee. She also has conducted research at KU and the Mayo Clinic.
About the KU Alumni Association
Through the support of members and donors, the KU Alumni Association advocates for the University of Kansas, communicates with Jayhawks in all media, recruits students and volunteers, serves the KU community and unites Jayhawks. For more information, visit kualumni.org.