Student Excellence Awards

Check out our announcement videos on UWM’s Student Involvement Instagram: @dostuffuwm on the IGTV page! If you have any questions, please direct them to

If you completed a BINGO sheet, please turn it into the Student Involvement front desk in the Student Union, Room S355. The hours for the front desk are Mon.-Fri. 10 am- 3 pm. If you are one of the first 25 people, you will get a prize!

Individual Awards

Student Org. Advisor of the Year

This award is presented to an organization’s advisor (faculty/staff) who has gone beyond the call of duty to support and advise their organization(s).

2021 Winner: Rachael Schaser 

Instagram: @rachaelschaser

The nomination committee chose this winner because she has been the #1 supporter and fan of the organization and she demonstrates this at every opportunity to talk about how proud she is of the students and the organization for all their hard work. Under her leadership and guidance, CAB has successfully hosted 30+ virtual/hybrid/in-person events for students to enjoy, even amid a pandemic year. Her nominator mentions that “I can say without a doubt, that this organization would not be where it is today without the leadership and guidance of Rachael.” 


Student Org. Leader of the Year

This award is presented to a member of a registered student organization that has taken on a positional leadership role within the group. This individual will have gone out of their way and beyond their positional duties to support the success of the organization and its members.

2021 Winners: Caleb Hawkins, Cederick Antonio, & Joey Elizabeth O’Neill

Caleb’s nominator says: Caleb has made tangible changes for his organization in his short tenure, showing his commitment to both current and future org members. He inspires others to serve and demonstrates humility in his leadership role. It is apparent that he plays a key role in the success of this organization through his leadership and commitment.

Cederick’s nominator says: As President of Future Healthcare Executives (FHE), Cedrick Antonio consistently demonstrates exemplary leadership and commitment bringing pride to the organization, our students and UWM. He leads and guides his leadership team to think creatively. His ideas and guidance offer value to students with ways to engage virtually each month for both educational and social events.

Instagram: @cedrickantonio

Joey’s nominator says: Joey’s commitment to the UWM and Milwaukee community is admirable. It is clear that she has gone above and beyond in her commitment to the Criminal Justice Student Association (CJSA) during her time as President. She has both led and contributed to efforts to build community to ensure students are connected and supported.


Exemplary Leadership Award

This award is presented to a student who has been selected by their peers to assume a leadership position. Recipients will have exhibited growth and development as leaders and been involved in campus and or community organizations.

2021 Winners: Kirsten Sanford & Clarence Kinnard

Kirsten’s nominator writes: “Despite a virtual environment, Kirsten has made every effort to coordinate as many events and opportunities for SHRM as possible. She has found herself in leadership positions in her class and student organizations by always maintaining a positive attitude and having regular attendance, even in an online environment. Kirsten demonstrates additional leadership through her internship at Baird where she has assisted with Campus Recruiting efforts through Lubar School of Business Career Fairs and within Gamma Phi Beta where she also volunteers on the Academic Committee.”

Clarence’s nominator writes: “During his time in Student Association, I’ve watched Clarence grow in his leadership capacity, his ability to work as part of a team, and especially in his advocacy for the student body at UWM, most clearly highlighted as he led through this pandemic. Some of Clarence’s most notable achievements include extending the Bublr bikes contract and negotiating a significant discount for annual passes for UWM students, the implementation of a campus umbrella rental system, helping advance voting registration and engagement for UWM students, garnering support for greater visibility and inclusion of the LGBTQIA+ community, advocating for the increase of transferable credits from Wisconsin institutions of higher education, and serving on the Student Union Renovation Planning Committee.”

Instagram: @clarencekinnard 


Agent of Change Award

This award is presented to a student whose work and/or service has led to positive, measurable change for our campus and/or community. Their work may include actively contributing to a cause that improves the lives of others.  

2021 Winners: Silbi Isein, Shannon Ross, & Meghan Garvin

Silbi’s nominator writes: In this unique year, Silbi guided the committee through numerous re-evaluations of segregated fees in response to the covid pandemic and ultimately approved reduced fees for the student body, to help students in an extremely challenging time. An education major and current student teacher, Silbi led an initiative to include a student teacher stipend in the Governor’s biennial budget, which would support student teachers as they complete their education and professional preparation. Silbi is a tenacious leader who has worked tirelessly to create positive, measurable change for UWM students.

Shannon’s nominator writes: He has been a leader in his own right in connecting organizations to increase impact, share best practices, and give voice to current and formerly incarcerated people. He is currently working on the production, execution, and assessment of a videography campaign that is looking to change the narrative about formerly incarcerated people, challenging assumptions, and restoring voice and dignity to people that often fall to the back burner of many social justice workers minds.

Meghan’s nominator writes: Meghan has done significant work and analysis of the culture surrounding institutionalized sexual violence within higher education. She is passionate about providing students with a healthy, safe, and enriching experience not only at UWM, but across the U.S. and understands there needs to be change to make this happen. This past year especially, she has protested and continued her efforts for social justice movements.

Panther Spirit Award

This award is presented to an individual who exemplifies outstanding school spirit. The recipient of this award displays pride as a dedicated member of our community and has contributed to athletics, performances, cultural and arts activities, or academic competitions.

2021 Winner:Angela Rattin

Instagram: @angelarattin

Angela is the definition of what it means to be “Panther proud.” Angela is an active member with CAB and has been involved in a number of different committees, including Coffee House and Panther Traditions. She brings her A-game and energy to every meeting and always has something constructive to add to our conversations. Angela is consistently the organization’s number one supporter, both as a member and as a student excited about attending/engaging with events on and around campus. Also, she is a great influencer by inviting others to attend campus activities.

Outstanding First-Year Student

This award is presented to a first-year student that has exhibited outstanding leadership skills within their respective organization or on campus. This student does not have to have a defined leadership position.

2021 Winner: Amanda Holzer

The winner of this award was elected as a Freshman Senator in the Student Association just a few weeks into the school year and has been a dedicated, involved student, advocating tirelessly for her fellow first-year students. Along with the other Freshman senators, this student helped lead a First- Year student town hall event, to connect with and gather feedback from other new students at UWM. Because of her involvement and unique perspective starting college during a global pandemic, this student was invited to represent the student body and meet with members of the UW System Board of Regents and introduce them to the student perspective and UWM’s unique needs.

Outstanding Transfer Student

This award is presented to a new transfer student that has exhibited outstanding leadership skills within their respective organization or on campus. This student does not have to have a defined leadership position.

2021 Winner: Alex Renier

The winner of this award has become an engaged leader in both his job at UWM and in his participation in a student organization. He was hired as a Ceramics Assistant in the Union Studio Arts and Craft Centre (SACC) and has since been hired as the incoming Program Manager for the SACC, as the current manager is graduating in May. He is also a part of the student organization Art Educators for Social Justice as a part of the executive team for that org. From the beginning, he has shown a desire to help out by volunteering for events as well as contributing videos for the SACC marketing/social media that help keep our audience involved.

Outstanding Graduating Student

This award is presented to a student that is graduating in 2021, who has exhibited a strong commitment to UW-Milwaukee in multiple areas of campus life. They are recognized for their academic excellence, leadership, contributions to their community, and exceptional achievements during their time at UW-Milwaukee.

2021 Winners: Emma Mae Weber & Paul Newcomb for graduating undergraduate students and Teresa Serna for a graduate student!

Emma Mae’s nominator writes: Emma Mae currently serves as the President of the Student Association at UWM. Emma Mae has been a strong advocate and activist for the students at UWM. During her years as the President of Panthers Against Sexual Assault, Emma Mae coordinated speakers and events, meetings with campus administrators about issues of sexual violence on campus, and helped lead large campus events like the Sex and Drugs Show and Take Back the Night. Emma Mae helped lead the creation and implementation of a Diversity and Inclusion Director position to the Student Association Executive Committee this year, a position that will help SA work towards greater inclusiveness and representation internally and advocate for the needs of diverse students on campus.

Instagram: @emmamae_143

Paul’s nominator writes: Paul, as a first-year student looking for an internship with the Encyclopedia of Milwaukee (EMKE), read and recommended cross-references for the entire project–some 700 entries, approximately 750,000 words of text. Since then, they have completed an ambitious internship with the America’s Black Holocaust Museum. They have also become a vital member of the Documenting Deportation, Drop-In Ethnic Studies, Uncovering Radical Milwaukee, and Documenting the Movement for Black Lives Demonstrations in Wisconsin Projects funded by SURF in Cultures and Communities.

Teresa’s nominator writes: Teresa has a flawless academic performance in her Masters of Social Work Program. In addition to her full-time course load, she works part-time for the Roberto Hernández Center and part-time at other jobs while also completing Field Work. She has done an outstanding job in communicating with campus and community partners to host large and small scale events like Casa Abierta (UWM’s bilingual open house), Aprende Más sessions for prospective students and families to learn more about UWM in Spanish, Latinx Student Admitted Day, RHC Brown Bag conversations, Mexican Fiesta, and more.

Organizational Awards

Civic Responsibility of the Year

This award is presented to a student organization that has shown service in a variety of agencies or exemplary service to one organization, providing general service responsibility to Milwaukee and/or UWM. Service can be measured in hours served, dollars raised, or another metric, related to the impact from the organization.

2021 Winner: Zeta Sigma Chi Multicultural Sorority, Incorporated

Instagram: @uwm_zchis

Zeta Sigma Chi Multicultural Sorority, Incorporated has shown service and impact in a variety of ways. They have hosted two events (the third annual Menstruation Drive and Book Drive) that were one week long, however, they were still able to gather a large amount of items despite the shorter length. As stated above, with the Menstruation Drive, Zeta Sigma Chi was able to gather a total of $147 to purchase products for women and girls to use. With the Book Drive, they were able to gather a total of 315 books to donate.

Community Impact of the Year

This award is presented to an organization that has created a positive, measurable impact on our campus and/or community. This impact is encouraged to embody the UWM’s values of innovation, collaboration, scholarship, respect, safety, diversity, integrity, inclusion, and pride in the institution.

2021 Winner: Delta Sigma Pi

Instagram: @dsp_uwm

The winner of this award has demonstrated their dedication to community service. Whether it is hosting clean ups on campus or at Bradford Beach, participating in Make A Difference Day, or volunteering at the Ronald McDonald houses, this org has shown that they have made a significant impact on the community.

Program of the Year

This award is presented to a student organization that has planned and implemented an outstanding educational event on campus. The event should be one that was planned for and primarily attended by UW-Milwaukee students. This program should have succeeded in educating those outside of the organization about an issue or cause. 

2021 Winners: TEDxUWMilwaukee & Student Housing Administrative Council for Social Justice Week

TEDxUWMilwaukee: TEDxUWMilwaukee’s annual conference once again will bring a wide variety of new and important ideas to the campus community. Their speakers explore identity, positive disruption, ability, and STEM. This year TEDx has shifted impressively from an in-person event to a three-part series, held virtually. TEDxUWMilwaukee’s mission is driven by sharing ideas and stories unique to the City of Milwaukee. Talks are developed to feature topics that are central issues in the urban environment.

Social Justice Week: This year the Student Housing Administrative Council has had to adapt all of their traditions to a COVID environment, but that has not stopped SHAC from ensuring Social Justice Week continued to happen! The topics that SHAC choose were intentionally selected based on what is going on in today’s society and issues they thought students needed to be aware of. They wanted a combination of formats for students to engage, as well as a careful balance for staffing needs based on the content.

Outstanding Student Organization of the Year

This award is presented to an organization which has exhibited a high commitment to improving campus life at UWM. The organization will have shown unity within membership, produced strong programming for the campus and excelled in leadership.

2021 Winners: Zeta Sigma Chi Multicultural Sorority, Inc. and Panther Activities Committee

Zeta Sigma Chi was chosen as Outstanding Student Organization. Their principles of education, success, culture, service, and sisterhood with an emphasis on social justice and Greek unity serve the community well. ZSC adapted to life during the 2020-21 global pandemic, planning virtual and social distanced events that reached a wide variety of community members.

Instagram: @uwm_zchis

The Panther Activities Committee (PAC) was chosen as Outstanding Student Organization. The mighty team of 9 members, quickly adjusted to COVID life by sponsoring grab-and-go and virtual events. Working to serve all residential UWM students, PAC contributes to a high quality of life.


Student Employee Awards

Above and Beyond the Call

Students who could also be described as “everyday heroes”, such as those working “behind the scenes” to make UWM such a special place! They serve on the front lines, and help students each and every day with a commitment to excellent customer service and dedication to their professional purpose.

2021 Winners: Jamie Sparks, Luke Koltun, & Payton Steckert

Jamie’s nominator says: In September, we learned that our lead Career Resource Assistant was leaving us for a full-time position in her field of choice, and Jamie stepped into that role without needing to be asked. Jamie took on extra responsibilities to ensure our offices were open, that the day-to-day work was being done, and took on additional project work that needed to be done.

Luke’s nominator says: Luke displays a high level of excellence in all of his work, communications, and commitment to the Career Planning and Resource Center and UWM. I can’t speak highly enough about Luke’s dedication to his work, his commitment to excellence, and his positive attitude. Our department relies heavily on him and he never disappoints! If you need Luke to do something for you, his reply is always “I got you”.

Payton’s nominator says: Payton is the type of exemplary employee you dream of having. Payton demonstrates a level of excellence in her day to day work functions that both assists professional staff in the Dean of Students Office while supporting student success. As we have all had to adapt to a changing world in the midst of a pandemic, Payton has remained dedicated to ensuring efficient and thorough student response to questions and concerns, creating processes, including developing responses to common questions, to not only support the students who reach out to our office, but also to support her fellow student employees.

Instagram: @paytonsteckert

Most Valuable Player

Students showing consistent excellence in all areas of their responsibility and having a strong commitment to the university community. They take great pride in their academic and professional performance.

2021 Winner: Jenna Woodson

The winner of this award makes everything run smoothly behind the scenes at the Business Office. She has taken on responsibility for much more, and she never hesitates to learn something new or accept a new project. She never stops learning.

Inclusion & Advocacy

Students selected should have actively promoted the values of diversity and inclusion through their employment at UWM. They are encouraged to have helped increase diverse representation, developed new policies and practices, or modeled inclusive behaviors and practices for their coworkers.

2021 Winner: Hadiya Johnson

The winner of this award always centers and prioritizes the needs and experiences of marginalized folks in our community because she cares to make our campus a welcoming, caring, and proactively inclusive place for each of our students and staff. She was quick to address and challenge problematic thinking that represented ideas born of generational privilege.

Rising Star

Students selected should be in their first or second year of employment at UWM. They are effective in their current positions and show great potential both as an employee and student leader.

2021 Winner: Lila Nezhad-Reshadi

Instagram: @lila_r_n_

Here are some words from her nominator:

Lila consistently shows a willingness to learn and passion for creating community among students. In addition to recruiting two additional general members, Lila shows her commitment to helping others by consistently offering to volunteer her time (even before being asked).

Students Serving Students

Student staff who create or implement effective or outstanding programs or initiatives for the benefit of other students. They are dedicated to the mission of UWM, and most importantly, to creatively improve the lives of UWM students.

2021 Winners: Ida Lucchesi & Runa Storheil

Here are some words from their nominators:

Ida: More than anything, where I have seen Ida shine the most is as a mentor within our center. While she is willing and capable to be up front, running programs for groups of students, she excels at one-on-one connections. She is able to be there for students that come to our center with compassion and empathy. In her 3 years at our center, it is impossible to quantify the number of UWM students she has had an impact on. We are so proud of the work she has done as a Panther, and we know she will represent UWM well as she goes on to serve the Milwaukee community as an alumna.

Instagram: @ida_lucchesi

Runa: Because of Runa, we were able to add Group Cycling classes to our Group Exercise schedule. And she came in with a completely innovative and creative way of teaching. She looks at her classes as an “Experience”, not just a workout. We’ve conducted satisfaction surveys this past year and more students mention Runa’s classes than any other program we offer. So many participants have commented how much they love her classes and how their physical and mental health has improved by partaking in her classes. We know that the UREC classes have helped so many students health even more so during covid.

Instagram: @runasto