Friday, April 3, 2009
Three students recognized for academic, social and community excellence
By Katie Land, news editor
Three Oakland University students were awarded top honors by the Board of Trustees on April 1. Jeffrey McDonald received the Alfred J. Wilson Award, Renee Blackburn received the Matilda R. Wilson Award and Mathew Kelly received the Human Relations Award.
All three students are graduating seniors and all have built impressive academic, social and community-service based portfolios. The awards are presented annually, are selected by a committee and require the approval of the vice president for academic affairs and the president.
|Jeffrey McDonald received the Alfred J. Wilson Award.
McDonald’s list of accomplishments is long and varied, according to the recommendation submitted to the board. He served as a resident assistant, teaching assistant, president of the Pre-Physical Therapy Club, a member of the Golden Key International Honour Society and an ally for Students, Administrators & Faculty for Equality (S.A.F.E.).
In addition, he participated in an alternative spring break in New York City working at a homeless shelter and soup kitchen, and was a camp counselor for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. McDonald will graduate in May with a degree in physical therapy.
“I feel this accomplishment brought me the greatest satisfaction and it provided me with the opportunity to impact the future of Oakland University in a positive and encouraging manner,” McDonald said. “Being a resident assistant has opened my eyes to the world around me and has shown me how important it is to be a positive influence for those around you.”
The Wilson award presented to anthropology major Blackburn also brought with it proof of an active and distinguished college career.
|Renee Blackburn received the Matilda R. Wilson Award.
Blackburn has received numerous awards including the Oakland University Writing Excellence Award, has research published in University of North Texas Journal and received a research grant concentrating on early twentieth century Detroit playgrounds. Active in student and community organizations, she participated in the French Club, Anthropology Club, Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society and more.
“This award was a good way to show the substance of everything I have accomplished,” Blackburn said. “Everything I’ve done was for other people, but this award was for me. It makes me feel like I’ve done a good job.”
Kelly, a music major, spent his college years growing as a student leader and striving to foster unity and understanding among diverse groups, the Human Relations Award recommendation said.
Recipient of the 2007 Keeper of the Dream award, Kelly used his position as a resident assistant and assistant hall director to create social change on his floor. He also served as a member of S.A.F.E., the Academic Conduct Committee, the University Conduct Committee and others.
|Mathew Kelly received the Human Relations Award.
“Being the recipient of this award reaffirms that I am doing the right thing in continuing to work in higher education by continuing to break down cultural barriers and promote discussion among different groups of people,” Kelly said. “This award truly symbolizes the culmination of my tenure here at OU. I wanted to make a difference, and I can leave knowing that I have.”
The students were praised for their achievements by the board. “I feel very safe knowing that our future is in such capable hands,” trustee Monica Emerson said.