Wildcat Excellence Awards Celebrate Dedicated Members of the Northwestern Community

On Tuesday, June 5, Student Affairs held their annual awards banquet to honor winners of both the Wildcat Excellence Award and the Wildcat Impact Award. Approximately 130 students and staff members gathered in the Norris Louis Room to celebrate with food, music, and a ceremony that honored the people who go above and beyond to make the Northwestern community a better place.

Wildcat Excellence Award Winners are nominated in May through an online form by students and staff who have worked with them. With thirteen categories ranging from “emerging leader” to “innovative collaboration,” the Wildcat Excellence Awards recognize a wide variety of student organizations, students, and faculty advisors.The Wildcat Impact Awards, on the other hand, are given exclusively to students and are awarded each quarter. These awards are given to students demonstrating the central values of student affairs: stewardship, integrity, innovation, social justice, and collaboration. Although they come from a variety of schools and backgrounds, all of these award winners share a common commitment to the Northwestern community.

One of the individuals to walk away with a Wildcat Excellence Award for “Outstanding Student Employee” was Zachary Schroeder, ‘18. He received the title of “Outstanding Student Employee” after spending the last year writing a new Student Employee Handbook to accommodate the frequent staff turnover while maintaining a consistent, coherent structure for an incredibly large organization including over 200 student employees and seven event venues. In nominating him for the award, his supervisor also noted his initiative and the emotional support he provided to his coworkers.

Another winner from the night, Mackenzie Eisen, ‘18, received the Spring 2018 Wildcat Impact Award for Integrity due to going above and beyond as an RA. When her floor went through a particularly rough incident, she helped the community process everything that had occured. In describing her work, Eric Hetland, the Assistant Residence Director of East and West Fairchild who nominated Eisen, said that she, “advocates for all residents including promoting challenging conversations about identity, privilege, and power.”

For Eisen, the best part of the night was seeing the work her peers had put into, “equally shap[ing] the community as much as it shapes them.” Meanwhile Schroeder enjoyed hearing the speeches given prior to each winner receiving their award. This year, all the awards were presented by the same people who nominated the winners, leading to heartfelt and earnest speeches. Additionally, Schroeder was happy to see that, “a lot of the awards were for things that don’t usually get recognized,” citing as an example the contributing student leader award, which is given to an upperclassman not holding an executive board position, but nonetheless heavily involved with a student organization.

Ultimately, the awards were a fitting end to the school year, providing an opportunity for the community to reflect back on everything they had done. The ceremony was more than just a chance to be recognized for their hard work, particularly for the large number of graduating seniors honored throughout the night. It also allowed them to leave on a positive note, reminded of what it means to be a Wildcat.