The 2021 Student Involvement Celebration honored outstanding students and registered student organizations (RSOs) making a difference at Illinois State University. The event featured recorded performances by Illinois State’s all-treble a capella group, Secondary Dominance, and Illinois State’s own winner of the America’s Best College Poet competition, Naudia Williams. 

Nomination and application forms for Student Involvement Awards became available in March. Awards were presented to the following people and registered student organizations (RSOs) at the Student Involvement Celebration. 

The Mike Schermer Outstanding Student Leader of the Year award was presented to President of the Biological Sciences Student Association Rachel Frakes. Frakes organizes meetings and group events, recruits guest speakers, and works to help students going into the biology field find their path to success. She is also involved in several other RSOs and volunteer groups in the community.

Rachel Frakes with Levester Johnson and Reggie Redbird at the Student Involvement Awards
Rachel Frakes with Levester Johnson and Reggie Redbird at the Student Involvement Celebration

The Ritamae Carroll Memorial First-Year Student Involvement Award was presented to Awais Nadeem. Nadeem is the secretary for the Association for Computing Machinery, an RSO that is responsible for organizing and directing internal IT activities at Illinois State as well as supervising special interest groups. He is also on the programming team of the Game Development Club, a member of the Cybersecurity Club, and a member of the AI Club.

Awais Nadeem with Levester Johnson and Reggie Redbird at the Student Involvement Awards
Awais Nadeem with Levester Johnson and Reggie Redbird at the Student Involvement Celebration

The Billy Quigley “Leader in Action” Award was presented to Teresa Greenwald and Jennifer Miller.

Greenwald serves as the president of Women in Business, a student organization that works to proactively prepare for and educate its members on the current trends in the workplace. One of Greenwald’s advisors praised her “willingness to work hard to achieve her goals while also empowering others to achieve theirs.”

Teresa Greenwald with Levester Johnson and Reggie Redbird at the Student Involvement Celebration

Miller works as the Programming and Administrative intern at the Central Illinois Area Health Education Center (AHEC), which allows her to engage with student communities in McLean County and 15 surrounding counties so that she can educate and inform them of the need for healthcare providers in underserved and rural communities.

Jennifer Miller with Levester Johnson and Reggie Redbird at the Student Involvement Awards
Jennifer Miller with Levester Johnson and Reggie Redbird at the Student Involvement Celebration

The Registered Student Organization Advisor of the Year award was presented to Steve Vandiver for his work with Business Week. One student said Vandiver “always offers to help in any way possible and follows through on all of his efforts. Whether it is finding alumni or creating marketing content for members to use, he goes above and beyond the call of duty.”

Headshot of Steve Vandiver smiling
Steve Vandiver

Delta Zeta and Deaf Redbirds Association’s Inclusion and Unity Program was named the 2021 Outstanding Collaborative Program. To encourage inclusion and unity and make Delta Zeta’s philanthropy about more than raising funds, Deaf Redbirds Association and Delta Zeta came together to educate Delta Zeta chapter members on basic sign language to strengthen their inclusion of the deaf and hard of hearing community.

Delta Zeta and Deaf Redbirds’ Inclusion and Unity Program

The Delta Zeta Academics Chairwoman was named the 2021 Outstanding Educational Program. The goal of this program is to help their members get off of academic probation and back in good standing. Women on academic probation meet weekly at the sorority house with the academics chair and other members to get help on their homework, register for their classes, or schedule visits with professors.

Delta Zeta

Delta Zeta also won the Outstanding Philanthropic Program award for their Step Up for Starkey program. Delta Zeta has benefited this organization by donating over 1500 pairs of shoes to the Angel Bins’ warehouse. Angel Bins will then export the shoes to various countries in South America, Central America, and Africa. There, the company works to create thousands of jobs for micro-entrepreneurs who resell, repair, and repurpose the shoes as a means of supporting their families

Donated shoes for the Step Up for Starkey Program

Spread the Magic’s collaboration with Make-a-Wish Illinois won the award for Outstanding Service/Volunteer Program. For this program, Spread the Magic members dress up as a child’s favorite princess or superhero, and, based on information they receive from their Make-a-Wish sponsor, they record a video talking about the child’s siblings, pets, favorite hobbies, or other interests. 

Spread the Magic’s Volunteer Program

Two organizations won the 2021 Outstanding Social/Entertainment Program award.

The Association of Residence Halls (ARH) was recognized for their Wellness Wednesdays, an opportunity for students to gather mostly in-person to partake in stress relief activities. ARH used this program to create a positive residential experience for students living within the residence halls. They rotated the programs to each area of campus ensuring all students had the opportunity to participate.

Wellness Wednesdays

Friday Night Live was also recognized for its Iranian Night, an excellent opportunity for Illinois State students to interact with each other, learn about Iran’s culture, and try a traditional Iranian dish. The Friday Night Live board delivered the ingredients to cook a traditional Iranian meal to students and taught them the preparation steps through an online event.

Iranian Night

Spread the Magic took home the award for Large Student Organization of the Year. Spread the Magic’s mission is to bring joy and meaning to the lives of children, elderly, and individuals with disabilities by interacting with them as their favorite characters and performing various philanthropic activities throughout the community.

Spread the Magic

Omega Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated received the Small Registered Student Organization of the Year award. Founded in 1989 at the State University of New York in Albany, Omega Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated values the development of all women through sisterhood, diversity, leadership, service, and academic excellence. They strive to promote the unity of all cultures, focus on the empowerment of their gender, and raise the standards of excellence in their academic, social, and personal endeavors.

Omega Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated

Vice President of Student Affairs Levester Johnson and Dean of Students John Davenport spoke at the celebration. 

“I, myself, am ever impressed by the persistence, innovation, and success of our student leaders and student organizations,” Johnson said. 

A full photo gallery from the event is available for viewing.

More information about the Student Involvement Awards is available on the Dean of Students Office website