Nominations for student leadership awards begin

Jerret Raffety

Abdul Basit said he wouldn’t have guessed last year that he was about to receive an award directly from the University Office of the President.

But in March, Basit received a message in his University e-mail telling him he had won the President’s Student Leadership and Service Award.

“I just assumed the e-mail was just junk mail,” said Basit, a first-year graduate student in the Institute of Technology.

Basit was tempted to ignore the notice but is glad he didn’t, he said.

Now, the process is starting all over again with the beginning of open nominations and applications for the President’s Student Service Awards.

The awards, created to recognize students for excellence in leadership, will be awarded at a banquet May 4 in the Coffman Union’s Great Hall, said Erik Dussault, a coordinator for the Student Activities Office.

“The students receive a certificate from University President (Bob) Bruininks at the banquet,” Dussault said.

The award makes students eligible for the University Alumni Association Student Leadership Awards, the Donald R. Zander Award for Outstanding Student Leadership and the Mary A. McEvoy Award for Public Service and Leadership, which all include scholarships, according to the Student Activities Office Web site. These awards are given at the banquet in May, the Web site said.

Any student, faculty or staff member can nominate any student by visiting the Student Activities Office Web site to fill out an application, Dussault said. The deadline for applications is 4:30 p.m. on Feb. 11., according to the Student Activities Office.

Students may also nominate themselves, Dussault said.

The awards are presented annually to approximately one-half of 1 percent of the student body, according to the activities office Web site. However, the number of awards given out also depends on the number of nominations made, Dussault said. The awards are decided by a selection committee that is composed of members of the Alumni Association, the Office of the President, faculty members and undergraduate and graduate students, Dussault said.

The committee decides which students receive awards based on the quality of their leadership performance and the extent to which they have made contributions to the University and the community in the previous calendar year, according to the activities office Web site.

The students are also evaluated on their cumulative grade point average and essay questions they must answer for the selection committee, Dussault said.

Basit said detailed essay question answers are important for receiving an award. He made sure to include all of his responsibilities in his essay, which included his participation in the International Student and Scholar Services, Al-Madinah Cultural Center and the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, he said.

However, it isn’t the number of organizations that someone participates in that will get him or her the award, Basit said.

“The Student Activities Office is very good at recognizing the quality of work that someone puts in,” Basit said.

“Someone with less (leadership experience) might be doing quality work that speaks for itself,” Basit said.

Basit said he thinks one reason he received the award was his experience as president of the Pakistani Student Association, during which time he helped improve the group’s financial situation. One way he and board members did that was by increasing the group’s fund-raising efforts and community involvement, which included holding collaborative events with the Indian Student Association.

Basit said awards like these have been very useful in helping him create an outstanding resume.

“Jobs do look at leadership skills, and these awards are a great demonstration and proof of them,” Basit said.