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Recognizing students' achievements

Annual Awards Celebration honors academics and leadership

Life is not so much like a box of chocolates, but more like a Plinko board for Grand Valley State University’s Stephen Glass. The movement science professor delivered his comparison on April 7 as the keynote speaker for this year’s Annual Awards Celebration, which recognized GVSU’s best and brightest for their academic and leadership achievements.

“When you are moving through the Plinko board, you can’t fight gravity,” Glass said. “From the day you begin your academic career, you are launched into the board, but unlike a Plinko chip, students have options.”

Glass compared the pegs on the board to the opportunities that present themselves to students every day. Experiences, he said, branch out and lead to other opportunities.

The Outstanding Student Award Ceremony on Monday evening honored students who excelled in different departments at the University. GVL / Robert Mathews

“When opportunities that you’re passionate about come along, you have to go for it,” he said. “You have to push yourself beyond to move along to the next challenge.”

To the award recipients and to all students at GVSU, Glass offered this advice: “No one can tell you what your success is going to be, not even you, because your definition of success is always changing as you grow.”

During the event, students from all academic disciplines were awarded for their exemplary work throughout the year.

The Glenn A. Niemeyer award for outstanding graduate student went to Jennifer Bowling, and Katherine Braspenninx and Danielle Meirow received the awards for undergraduates.

“These are the highest academic awards given,” said Niemeyer, GVSU’s first provost serving from 1980 to 2001.

Meirow also received two other awards during the event, the Venderbush Leadership Award, which encompasses academic and leadership contributions, and the Departmental Honor Award for women and gender studies. When she learned she had won three awards, she said she could not believe it.

“I was quite awestruck. I honestly started crying,” she said. “It’s a great honor. I’m proud to represent Grand Valley.”

Meirow added that she was thankful for the recognition but feels there are so many others who were deserving, as well. She said she has always prioritized her academics, but has also recognized the value of being involved.

“Get involved early, and stay involved. Don’t be afraid to change what you are doing,” she said. “You always learn more about yourself if you get involved in a multitude of different things.”

Frederick Antczak, dean of Liberal Arts and Sciences, said he could not be more proud of what the students have accomplished this year.

“Every one of these students has excelled,” he said. “We are surrounded by really remarkable people.”


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