Greeks celebrate leadership, progress

The greek community held its annual award ceremony Sunday night. Katelyn Wright took home Greek Member of the Year.

Katelyn Wright of Gamma Phi Beta smiles as she accepts the PHC Greek Member of the Year award at the Greek Awards on Sunday at Coffman Union.

Lisa Persson

Katelyn Wright of Gamma Phi Beta smiles as she accepts the PHC Greek Member of the Year award at the Greek Awards on Sunday at Coffman Union.

Anne Millerbernd

Navita Lakhram wiped tears from her face before turning to accept her Greek Member of the Year Award on Sunday night. Coffman Union’s Great Hall roared with applause as she took the award and walked off stage.

Lakhram was one of three recognized as standouts in the greek community last year who won awards at the ceremony, which for the first time honored leaders from the Multicultural Greek Council and National Pan-Hellenic Council.

Katelyn Wright from Gamma Phi Beta was named the Panhellenic Council’s Greek Woman of the Year, and the Interfraternity Council‘s Man of the Year award went to Jake Starsiak from Alpha Tau Omega.

In previous years, only the PHC and IFC were included in the ceremony. But this year, the Multicultural Greek Council and National Pan-Hellenic Council were both up for one award. Lakhram’s award represented both councils on Sunday because the National Pan-Hellenic Council was not its own council last year.

Wright said she was honored to be nominated for Woman of the Year and felt surprised when she won the award.

“The greek community has always been really inspiring to me,” she said. “It means a lot to me that other people in the community see me as a role model or an inspiring person.”

The event also recognized individual greek chapters in categories like outstanding leadership and community service.

PHC President Talia Saville said the ceremony is one of few opportunities that greeks have to collaborate as a community and celebrate their accomplishments.  

“There aren’t very many events throughout the year that we get to come together for a nice, formal sit-down event like [Sunday] was,” she said.

Sunday’s event also recognized alumni, advisers, housemothers and individual greeks.

Matt Levine, director of the Office for Fraternity and Sorority Life, said someone in the greek community must nominate finalists for Member of the Year awards and fill out an application.

Greek alumni, current members and people outside the greek community then interview the applicants and select one winner from each council, he said.

“It’s a cool opportunity to show others what we’re about and what we’re really doing,” Levine said.

Multicultural Greek Council President Nancy Mahdy said members of the greek community don’t necessarily aim to win the awards, but they are instead recognized for excellence they show throughout the year.

Levine said competition has heightened in recent years due to the number of greek members who stand out.

“It’s not just about engagement anymore,” he said. “It’s about making a change.”