Ten University of Nebraska–Lincoln students have been honored with Student Luminary Awards for their exceptional leadership and commitment to improving campus life.
The awards, which are presented annually to eight undergraduate and two graduate students, were announced during a campus reception March 13. Those selected demonstrate a significant and active commitment to inclusion, are advocates for positive change, initiate activities that help every Husker feel valued, strive for personal well-being and model academic excellence inside and outside the classroom.
Each student was nominated by faculty or staff members on campus and will receive $1,000.
Learn more about this year’s Student Luminaries below.
Haille Cox, a junior English and sociology major from Bellevue, was honored as a Student Luminary for her leadership roles in Nebraska’s Abel-Sandoz and Neihardt residence halls. After serving as a resident assistant for the past two years, former supervisors noted Cox’s commitment to building relationships with students and contributing to a positive living environment.
A focus on diversity and inclusion led Ibraheem Hamzat, a senior microbiology major from Chicago, to be recognized on March 13. Hamzat serves as external vice president for the Association of Students of the University of Nebraska and is a member of the Council for Inclusive Excellence and Diversity and the Chancellor’s Commission on the Status of People of Color.
Hamzat is also the founding president of the Minority Pre-Health Association, a registered student organization that provides a community to minority Huskers aspiring to work in health care.
Making fellow Huskers feel more welcome has been a continued goal for Celine Haynes, a senior advertising and public relations and broadcasting major from Omaha. Haynes has served as a New Student Enrollment orientation leader and NSE front desk worker, as well as participated in Husker Dialogues since its inception in 2018.
Last fall, Haynes was also named a Most Promising Multicultural Student for 2020 by the American Advertising Federation. The recognition was given to 50 students nationwide.
Vincent Malene, a senior actuarial science major from Omaha, received a Student Luminary Award for his multitude of service roles on campus and around Lincoln. Malene is involved in Launch Leadership, where he facilitates leadership-focused conversations for middle and high school students; as well as the fraternity Pi Kappa Alpha, where he serves in formal and informal roles surrounding new member and brotherhood education.
Malene is also the founder of Cultivate UNL, a social media campaign and event focused on promoting positive stress management for students, and volunteers regularly for Lincoln Literacy.
Brittni McGuire, a junior fisheries and wildlife major from Omaha, was recognized for her work toward making campus a greener place. McGuire works in the Office of Sustainability, where she has created several programs to educate current and incoming students on sustainability practices they can implement in their daily lives. She is also the president of Sustain UNL, successfully campaigned to remove plastic bags from campus convenience stores last fall and was the leader of September 2019’s Nebraska Climate Strike.
With the aim of forming a community for other first-generation students like her, senior chemical engineering major Madison Miller created Nebraska’s First-Gen registered student organization. Miller, from Lincoln, has also served as a peer mentor for the university’s First Husker program.
In her free time, she serves as a tutor for several STEM courses at the Study Stops held in the Adele Hall Learning Commons in Love Library North.
Lauren Mott, a junior biological sciences major from Omaha, has spent her college career mentoring other students in STEM subjects and researching through UCARE how Nebraska organic chemistry courses can be taught more effectively. She is also a member of the Honors Program and serves as a peer mentor for its first-year students.
Agustín Olivo, a graduate student in mechanized systems management and Fulbright Scholar from Argentina, serves as president of the Biological Systems Engineering Graduate Student Association. Olivo brought the association back after many years of inactivity and implemented a mentorship program within the organization for new students.
He also serves on the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources Student Advisory Board and ASUN Graduate Student Assembly and was the only graduate student chosen to present at the fall 2019 CASNR all-hands meeting.
A senior computer science and management major from Lincoln, Jake Piccini splits his time between a variety of campus organizations. He is the president of Spectrum, Nebraska’s LGBTQA+ student organization, and coordinates educational and social programming as part of his role. One of those events is the homecoming Rainbow Ball, which he started two years ago.
Piccini also serves on the executive boards of oSTEM and the Kauffman Residents Association, where he is a wing representative and cultural committee chair.
Shawn Ratcliff, a sociology graduate student from Collinsville, Virginia, earned a Student Luminary Award for his work advocating for fellow graduate students. Ratcliff is president of the university’s Graduate Student Association and is heavily involved in the university’s Graduate Council.
Ratcliff has also participated in training by the Executive Vice Chancellor’s Office on facilitating civil discourse in learning spaces and became a certified UndocuAlly through the Office of Academic and Intellectual Services.