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Three student leaders recognized with prestigious university awards

Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Three student leaders recognized with prestigious university awards
By Katie Land, news editor

Pictured from left to right: Alfred G. Wilson Award winner Maxwell VanRaaphorst, Human Relations Award winner Shakita Billy, and Matilda R. Wilson Award winner Emily Tissot. 
Spring marks a time to celebrate student achievement with the annual Alfred G., Matilda R. Wilson and Human Relations awards. The prestigious awards are bestowed annually by Oakland University’s Board of Trustees to three outstanding students.

The 2012 winners are biochemistry major Maxwell VanRaaphorst, anthropology and Spanish major Emily Tissot, and political science and English major Shakita Billy. The students were recognized by the board at the Wednesday, March 28, meeting. 

The Wilson awards are reserved for the top male and female scholars and leaders, while the Human Relations Award recognizes a student who has made a valuable social impact within the university community.

All three students are graduating seniors and all have built impressive academic, social and community-service based portfolios. Students are selected by a committee, recommended by faculty and staff members and approved by the vice president for academic affairs and the president.

2012 Alfred G. Wilson Award
Maxwell VanRaaphorst

Throughout his Oakland career, VanRaaphorst has demonstrated a wide range of involvement, interests and academic achievement, with activities ranging from intramural sports and working as a Resident Assistant to serving as a BOT student liaison and a study abroad stint in Oviedo, Spain. Yet, VanRaaphorst’s most lasting achievement may be his work with Dr. Nessan Kerrigan in an OU research lab, where he was able to co-author a paper that was recently published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

“Max’s intellectual curiosity is remarkable,” said Sara Webb, assistant director of Orientation and New Programs, in her recommendation. “He clearly understands the value of both in and out of class experiences and takes purposeful actions to ensure he is learning the most from his college education. He builds strong relationships with faculty and staff and sets high academic and personal goals.”

2012 Matilda R. Wilson Award
Emily Tissot

Tissot’s academic interests have taken her across the globe to locales in Peru, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic, where she worked to provide international aid services; and to Israel, where she spent two summers working with both Oakland and international archaeologists and anthropologists to excavate a site from the Iron Age. This winter, Tissot was awarded OU’s prestigious Keeper of the Dream Award, and has served as a student liaison to the board for two years.

“Emily is quite rightly a multi-scholarship winner whose commitment to scholarship, leadership and social responsibility is extremely strong,” wrote Graeme Harper, Ph.D., director of the Honors College. “She throws herself into leadership roles with the kind of contribution that recognizes effort as well as belief, and that ensures others are enthused and motivated by her leadership and example.”

2012 Human Relations Award
Shakita Billy

Dedicated to promoting diversity on campus, Billy has contributed to more than five student organizations, advocated for student legislative initiatives and volunteered for countless events and projects. Billy has demonstrated her leadership skills in the Oakland University Student Congress, university environment coalition, Hamlin Hall Council, International Allies, RED COW (Revive, Experience and Dream. Change Our World), and was named the Center for Student Activities’ student employee of the year. 

“It is through her efforts on campus that Shakita has impacted her peers, and commanded the respect of faculty and staff by successfully promoting the importance of being involved with the university community,” wrote Jean Ann Miller, director of the CSA, in her recommendation letter. “Shakita lives and breathes the concept that being involved and being of services is impactful and that she can and will make a difference in the lives of others at OU, as well as locally and globally after she has graduated.”

For a listing of previous Wilson award winners, view the website. For a listing of previous Human Relations Award winners, view the website