UNC Asheville presented its annual student and faculty leadership awards at a special ceremony on campus on Wednesday, April 12, 2017. The LEAP (Leadership. Excellence. Achievement. Partnership.) Awards recognized current students and faculty members who have achieved excellence in leadership through active engagement in the campus community and greater Asheville community.
The university’s two most prestigious student service awards went to graduating seniors JaNesha Slaughter and Anja Mayr. Faculty members Lise Kloeppel and Aubri Rote also were honored, as were many other students and staff members.
JaNesha Slaughter received the William and Ida Friday Award honoring outstanding in service to the community. Slaughter was recognized for her work in meaningful social action, including organizing a voter registration drive, a “march to the polls” protest against voter I.D. laws, and a panel on racial justice and policing to raise awareness across the campus about these issues across the campus. Slaughter conducted community-based research for the “State of Black North Carolina” initiative and created a number of programs for the “Social Justice Coffee Hour.” She brought together and organized several student organizations to create the Student Action Coalition to help support campus and community organizing. Slaughter has also served as an Alternative Service Experience peer leader, and developed and implemented the university’s year-long “Facing Project,” where she has been organizing teams of interviewers, writers and performers to create a public performance about the issue of affordable housing in Asheville.
Anja Mayr received the A.C. Reynolds Award and Thomas D. Reynolds Prize for her service to the campus. Mayr has provided direct service to the university in a number of ways, including as a residential education intern, a programming associate for the Key Center for Community Engaged Learning, a coordinator for the UNC Asheville Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, a facilitator of service learning orientations for students, and the creator of the L.E.A.D. living learning community on campus. She has also served as a senior senator and student affairs committee chair for the Student Government Association; in various leadership roles within Gamma Phi Beta, Epsilon Psi chapter; as president of Order of Omega, Rho Psi Chapter; and as president and treasurer of the German Club. She has presented and participated in numerous conferences, including the National Conference for Undergraduate Research, and the Annual National Conference on Race & Ethnicity in American Higher Education. Mayr has received university, regional and national honors for her service, including the Campus Compact Newman Fellowship, the NC Campus Compact Award, and the Adelaide Daniels Key Community-Engaged Learning Award.
Lise Kloeppel, associate professor of drama, was given the Community Connector Award for strengthening bonds between campus and community. Kloeppel was recognized for her leadership in steering the university Key Center for Community Engaged Learning as the center’s faculty director. She has operationalized the community engaged scholars process, facilitated the review of public service projects, and edited papers of the university's Journal of Undergraduate Public Service Projects, while soliciting and naming Key Center faculty fellows, and supporting faculty in designated service-learning courses.
Aubri Rote, assistant professor of health and wellness, received the Champion for Students Award. Rote incorporates real life applications and practices for her students, and her commitment to student learning and advancement includes her work to decrease body image stigma in the classroom. Her personal research on the subject coupled with her Body Image/Body Fat course serve to make the UNC Asheville community a more accepting and inclusive environment.
The following students and staff also were honored:
Christa Mullis was awarded the Carolyn Briggs Diversity Award for her work to gain greater visibility and acceptance of students with disabilities, including establishing the Disability Cultural Center on campus.
Shannon Bodeau received the Newman Civic Fellows Award for her commitment to the integration of environmental justice and social improvement within communities.
Dee Rojas received the Adelaide Daniels Key Center Community-Engaged Learning Award for her service in the United States Marine Corps as well as her work as a tutor in Hendersonville County Public Schools, Henderson County Early College Program, and Asheville City Schools as a tutor. She also has volunteered as an ESL (English as a Second Language) tutor.
The student employee of the year was Neil Savage, who has worked with the AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) tutoring program for four consecutive semesters. Savage has worked with all 320 AVID students, and this semester is supervising a group of 50 of his peers.
Christina Jaeger, associate director of Highsmith Union operations, was awarded Student Employee Supervisor of the Year for her positivity, encouragement and leadership of her student employees.
Student Organization of the Year was awarded to the German Club, for their diligent work to advance German culture and language. Recent projects undertaken by the German Club include movie screenings, cooking events, and an annual Weihnachtsmarkt, or Christmas Market, with proceeds supporting Syrian refugees in Germany and the local Youth OUTright organization.
Collaboration of the year was awarded to the Black Lives Matter: The Revival, organized by leaders of the Student Government Association, the Black Student Association and the Alliance student organization. The collaboration includes opportunities for student to participate in civic engagement activities, community building and fellowship events.
National Eating Disorder Awareness Week hosted by PEPAH (Peers Educating Peers Advancing Health) received the Program of the Year award. The weeklong awareness program held events that were intended to appeal to a variety of individuals, including belly dancing, the Wall of Truth, and myth-smashing games.
Harley Kranock, vice president of the Alliance student organization, received the Emerging Leader of the Year award. Kranock is actively involved in the operations and programming at UNC Asheville’s Hyannis House, a safe space that welcomes women, those affected by sexual assault, LGBTQ individuals and allies.
Taylor Heise received the Student Leader of the Year award. Heise serves as a head orientation leader in the university’s Blue Crew, a member of the Order of Pisgah, a resident assistant, a member of the Inquiry ARC committee, and as an intern with Eliada Academy with the therapeutic animal service cooperative.
Phoenicia Schwidkay was given the Non-Traditional Student Leader of the Year award. Schwidkay is a member of Alpha Xi Delta and has strengthened the organization’s partnership with Brother Wolf Animal Shelter and worked to find additional volunteer opportunities. She serves as president of the UNC Asheville chapter of Student North Carolina Association of Educators (SNCAE).