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The Flor-Ala

The Student News Site of University of North Alabama

The Flor-Ala

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University honors students at awards gala

Lilly Clark
The awards given out to students and faculty at the 2024 Awards Gala.

The University Awards Gala was held at Norton Auditorium to honor students and staff alike. 

The gala was hosted on April 22 by the University’s Department of Student affairs. The gala started its planning last year. Dr. Tammy Jacques and a team of her peers began preparations for this year’s gala the day after the previous one ended. 

“We work with a planning committee to put this on, and work with each department to coordinate the awards,” said Jacques. “We then communicate with the students to make it as personal as possible. We want to celebrate leadership, academics and service to our recipients.”

Prior to the gala beginning, the UNA String quartet provided entertainment, then did so again halfway through the awards. 

During the gala, SGA president Amber Sandvig began by introducing the emcees for the event. First was Miss UNA, Madeline Cooper, and alongside her was Dr. Patrick Shremshock.

Dr. K.C. White then gave opening remarks for President Kenneth Kitts, who was unable to attend the gala. Dr. White spoke of the close-knit campus community. 

“Success is created by a team, never in isolation,” said White.

White proceeded to thank the attendees and especially the organizers of the night’s gala. She then turned it over to the two emcees for the evening. 

Starting off, the University honored a graduating senior in each major of the College of Arts, Sciences, and Engineering. These awards were presented by interim Dean Dr. Ryan Zayac. They topped off the category with a Dean’s Award, which went to Olivia Morris.  

Following that, the Anderson College of Nursing and Health Professions honored a graduating senior in each of their departments. These awards were presented by the dean, Dr. Tera Kirkman. They honored Sage Betts with the Dean’s award. 

The College of Education and Human Sciences proceeded to honor their seniors. They were given their awards by Dr. Matt Green, Interim Dean. They awarded their Dean’s award to Brooklyn Paige Prince.

Finally, the Sanders College of Business and Technology Dean Dr. Greg Carnes presented their awards to a group of nine students, the final student being Talon Pritchard, who received the dean’s award. 

They then veered off to present students with more specific awards. They awarded ten seniors with distinguished academic achievement awards. 

The Lion’s Cup was awarded next. The Lion’s Cup goes to a student organization who, throughout the year, strengthens the campus community and strongly promotes university-sponsored activities. This year, the Lion’s Cup went to the Navigators. This organization was praised for going above and beyond for the campus community. 

“The Navigators strive to passionately engage, unite, and connect our international students,” said the Navigators. 

Anna Leigh Rossi, Director of Fraternity and Sorority life, then awarded the Fraternity Man of the Year Award to Ryne McGuyver of Lambda Sigma Phi, who holds the position of secretary for the fraternity. Next, Jada Mitchell of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. was honored as Sorority Woman of the Year. Mitchell serves as president for the sorority. 

The President’s Diversity Award goes to both a faculty member and a student organization. This year’s faculty award went to Dr. Pat Sanders, a trailblazer for women of color. Dr. Sanders has been with UNA’s Communications Department since 1999. The student organization honored was once again the Navigators. They were applauded for their mission to make international students feel welcome on UNA’s campus. 

This year’s Undergraduate Service Award went to four students of four different class rankings. This award is presented to students who have outstanding scholastic standing and make contributions to campus in non-academic organizations as well. These went to Mia Batchelor, Rebekah Callahan, Olivia Oliphant and Garret Statom. 

Similarly, the Hall of Fame Awards honor four graduating seniors who have outstanding academic standing and have also made significant contributions to the University through non-academic programs. These four seniors were Abby Eggemeyer, Talon Pritchard, Meg Wilbanks and Amber Sandvig. Sandvig also received the Robert L. Potts Hall of Fame Award, presented to her by her Vice President of the Student Government Association. 

Each year, the University honors one man and woman as The University Man and Woman of the Year. This year, Mario Sanchez-Salcedo was named University Man of the Year. Sanchez-Salcedo also received a Global Lions Award, which is given to a student who praises their international roots. 

The University Woman of the Year went to Anna Grace Rye. Rye also received the Lagrange Society Award for Hostess of the Year, an honor she has received for the second year in a row. Along with that, she also received an Outstanding Academic Achievement Award for her degree in Communication Arts. 

The tail end of the award gala honored faculty and staff members of UNA. 

Among the faculty were notable faces such as Dr. K.C. White, Mrs. Kay Wammack and many others. 

Finally, Dr. Katie Kinney awarded the last five awards to five members of staff who were outstanding in their field this past academic year. 

When asked about the gala, Dr. White stated, “I cannot take credit. Dr. Jacques does everything and deserves all the credit for this event.” 

The entire gala highlighted the excellency held at UNA. Faculty, staff and students alike work together to create an atmosphere built for success that grows each year.

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About the Contributors
Amberly Brown
Amberly Brown, Staff Writer
Lilly Clark
Lilly Clark, Staff Photographer
Lilly Clark is a freshman from the town of Killen, Ala. She is majoring in interdisciplinary studies and hopes to pursue her dream job of video editing. She is a staff photographer.

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