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2021 Student Engagement Awards

Each year, the Center for Student Engagement strives to honor student organizations and student leaders who have made a significant impact on the Volunteer community over the last academic year.  The Center for Student Engagement strives to honor students and student organizations who embody the Volunteer spirit and make Rocky Top home sweet home for so many!

Student Engagement Awards Nomination Form

A full list of awards and award descriptions can be found below, as well as a link to the Nomination Form.

Nominations must be submitted by March 5, 2021 at 11:59 PM.

The 2021 Student Engagement Awards Ceremony will be held on March 29, 2021 at 4:30 PM in the Student Union Ballroom

2021 Award Categories
Individual Awards Organization Awards
Spirit of Tennessee Outstanding Commitment to Inclusion
Rising Student Organization Leader Outstanding Commitment to Service
Outstanding Graduate/Professional Student Outstanding Commitment to Innovative and Creative Programming
Outstanding Executive Board Member Outstanding Commitment to Virtual Programming
Outstanding Commitment to Inclusion Outstanding Academic Student Organization
Unsung Hero Outstanding New Student Organization
Outstanding Commitment to Encouraging the Heart Outstanding Student Organization Advisor
Outstanding Organization Excellence Awards

Student Engagement Awards Nomination Form

Nominations must be submitted by March 5, 2021 at 11:59 PM.


Student Engagement Awards

Award Categories and Descriptions

Awards for Student Organizations

All registered student organizations with the Center for Student Engagement are eligible for each award listed below, unless indicated in the award description.

Outstanding Commitment to Inclusion Award

Description: The award honors student organization excellence in education and/or advocacy for the importance of valuing inclusion and equity within the University community and beyond. The award will be given to a registered student organization dedicated to promoting inclusion, equality, and equity through programming or educational initiatives.

Outstanding Commitment to Service

Description: The award honors a student organization who embodies the University’s commitment to volunteer service.  The award is given to an organization who has engaged in service whether as part of their mission or to enhance the activities of their organization.  Student organizations should have tracked service hours with the Jones Center for Leadership and Service.  The process and criteria for trackable service hours can be found at: https://leadserve.utk.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/71/2019/08/JCLS-Service-Guidelines-2019-20.pdf

Outstanding Commitment to Innovative and Creative Programming

Description: The award honors excellence in the development and implementation of an original program. Recognized programs demonstrate: 1) the growth of students and enhancement of campus life, 2) new ideas, methods or programs that result in improved educational activities or services for the campus community. Both new and revamped programs are eligible for this award.

Outstanding Commitment to Virtual Programming

Description: The award honors excellence in creating virtual programming for the University community whether through a program/event or programming series.  The program or programming series should have been held in a totally virtual format whether through Zoom or another online platform.

Outstanding New Student Organization

Eligibility: Registered student organization newly registered with the CSE during 2020-2021 academic year

Description: The new student organization will have demonstrated promise in recruitment, retention, creativity, and teamwork. The organization has made a positive impact on the campus and community in their first year on campus and fulfilled its mission. This honors an organization for developing and implementing improvements in the quality of student life.

Outstanding Academic Student Organization

Eligibility: Registered student organization with a focus or connection to an academic department; includes honor societies for a specific academic discipline.

Description: The award honors a registered student organization whose primary purpose is to provide an opportunity for engagement of students within an academic discipline, major, or career focus.  The award honors excellence in creating engagement opportunities within an academic discipline, major, or focus.  Engagement opportunities may include, but are not limited to, mentoring programs, professional development, or research.  Honor societies for a specific academic discipline are eligible for the award.

Outstanding Student Organization Advisor

Eligibility: Staff or faculty advisor to a registered student organization

Description: The award is designed to honor and recognize a faculty or staff member who serves as an advisor to a registered student organization. The award will recognize an individual for their service, dedication, mentorship, compassion, consistency, and wisdom.  Priority is given to nominees who serve as an advisor in a voluntary role and not as part of their role within the University.

Outstanding Organization Excellence Awards

The award recognizes a large, small, or graduate/professional serving student organization that has fulfilled its mission, involved the campus in its purpose, maintains a leadership role on campus, is involved in the campus community, is intentionally inclusive, has the ability to accept and overcome challenges, and sustain itself in creative ways. Additionally, the award honors an organization for developing and implementing improvements in the quality of student life and fosters positive change within the university community.

Submitting a nomination for this category, also enters the student organization into the nomination for the 2020-2021 Student Organization of the Year.  This award may recognize up to three student organizations per type.  Only one organization will win the Student Organization of the Year Award.

  • Large Organization (50+ Members)
    • Eligibility: Registered student organizations with more than 50 members
  • Small Organization (Less than 49 Members)
    • Eligibility: Registered student organizations with 49 or less members
  • Graduate Student Organization of the Year
    • Eligibility: Registered student organization predominantly serving graduate students

2020-2021 Student Organization of the Year

Description: Recognizes a large, small, new, or graduate/professional student serving student organization that has fulfilled its mission, involved the campus in its purpose, maintains a leadership role on campus, is involved in the campus community, is intentionally inclusive, has the ability to accept and overcome challenges, and sustain itself in creative ways. Additionally, the award honors an organization for developing and implementing improvements in the quality of student life and fosters positive change within the university community.

The award recipient is chosen from the nominees for the Outstanding Organization Excellence and the Outstanding New Student Organization awards.

Awards for Students and Student Organization Leaders

All current students (undergraduate or graduate) and student organization leaders at the University of Tennessee are eligible for each award listed below, unless indicated in the award description.  Students should be in good conduct standing to receive the award.

Spirit of Tennessee

Description: The award recognizes a current student organization leader for their service, commitment, and contributions to their student organization and the University of Tennessee community.  Emphasis should be placed on how well the organization leader has grown and developed as a result of being involved with the student organization.  Nominated student organizations leaders should be in good academic and conduct standing with the University.

Rising Student Organization Leader

Eligibility: Undergraduate student in their first or second year at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (can include a transfer student who is in their first or second year at UTK)

Description: The award recognizes a student leaders who has shown tremendous dedication, involvement, and has begun making noteworthy contributions to a student organization or the university community during their short time at the institution.  Nominees should be respected by their peers and should demonstrate strong leadership potential.

Outstanding Graduate/Professional Student

Eligibility: Graduate or professional student organization leader

Description: The award recognizes graduate and/or professional students for their service, commitment, outstanding contributions to student life at the University of Tennessee. Additionally, the award recognizes the graduate/professional student who has combined academic achievement and commitment combined with leadership and engagement in the University community. Preference is given to nominated graduate/professional students who are involved in a registered student organization.

Outstanding Executive Board Member

Description: The award honors a member of an executive board of a registered student organization who has gone above and beyond to enhance the purpose of their organization. Whether through acquiring new skills, membership engagement, leadership development, cross-campus collaboration, and relationship building; the executive board member should have a strong commitment to the student organization.

Outstanding Commitment to Inclusion

Description: The award honors an undergraduate and/or graduate/professional student who exhibits excellence in education and/or advocacy for the importance of valuing inclusion and equity within the University community and beyond.

Unsung Hero

Description: The award recognizes a student who has positively influenced a student organization from behind the scenes and with a positive attitude, a willingness to help, and a commitment to excellence.

Outstanding Commitment to Encouraging the Heart

Description: The award honors a student who takes pride in the work they do and spends time encouraging and caring for others. Leaders encourage the heart by infusing hope, care, and determination into hard work and recognize their peers with high praise.

The following student organizations and student organization leaders were honored at the Student Engagement Awards held on March 29, 2021 via Zoom.

Organization Awards

Academic Student Organization:
Society of Physics Students
Commitment to Inclusion:
Students for Migrant Justice
Commitment to Innovative and Creative Programming:
Black Cultural Programming Committee
American Marketing Association
Commitment to Service:
Alpha Phi Omega
Commitment to Virtual Programming:
Women of Haslam
Coalition of Black Social Workers
New Student Organization:
Alpha Omega Epsilon
Organizational Excellence: Graduate Student Serving Organization:
Plant Science Graduate Student Association
Organizational Excellence: Large Student Organization:
The Ambassadors
Organizational Excellence: Small Student Organization:
Animal Legal Defense Fund
Society of Human Resource Management
Student Organization of the Year:
United Residence Halls Council

Student Leader Awards

Spirit of Tennessee
Lucy Buck
Rising Student Organization Leader
Legna Soto Gonzalez
Benjamin Kilgore
Amanda Inman
Outstanding Graduate/Professional Student Leader
Sadie Counts
Johnelle Simpson
Outstanding Executive Board Member
Emma Hudson
Nicole Beautz
Outstanding Commitment to Inclusion
Shahd Abbas
Unsung Hero
Syed Aqib
Outstanding Commitment to Encouraging the Heart
Joseph Paschall
Outstanding Student Organization Advisor
Renee D’Elia-Zunino, Italian Club
Laura Stansell, The Ambassadors