Twelve University of Nebraska–Lincoln students — 10 undergraduates and two graduate students — were awarded Student Luminary Awards to recognize their exceptional leadership and commitment to improving the campus and community.
The awards were announced during a reception on April 14 inside Howard L. Hawks Hall. Awardees are recognized for creating a positive campus environment, advocating for change, demonstrating a significant and active commitment to inclusion and modeling academic excellence inside and outside the classroom.
Each student was nominated by a faculty or staff member on campus and received $1,000.
This year’s award honorees are:
Carter, a first-gen senior child, youth and family studies and human development and family science major and McNair Scholar from Omaha, was honored as a Student Luminary for her inclusive leadership as a peer mentor in the First Husker and Emerging Leaders programs.
“I’ve watched Ma’Kiya deftly navigate and overcome so many challenges and grow her confidence as a scholar,” Lori Romano, nominator, said.
Donesky, a graduate student in biological engineering from Lincoln, was honored as a Student Luminary for his dedication to advocacy and initiating positive change as a member of the Graduate Student Association.
“Andrew’s commitment to all graduate students is visible in advocacy for fair practices and policies impacting their experience,” Eva Bachman, nominator, said.
Franz, a senior political science major from North Platte, Nebraska, was honored as a Student Luminary for his leadership and activism in his role as a Resident Assistant and various associations. He is an active member of of National Association for College and University Residence Halls (NACURH) and Residence Hall Association (RHA) and was elected as Director of Midwest Affiliate of College and University Residence Halls (MACURH).
“Nathan has shown a level of leadership, maturity and activism that is hard to compare with many students I have worked with throughout my past ten years as an advisor,” Jacob W. Sherry, nominator, said.
Brytany Gama Romo
Gama Romo, a senior agricultural education leadership major from Omaha, was honored as a Student Luminary for her resiliency and leadership as a New Student Enrollment Orientation Leader Spanish Language Specialist and National Minorities in Agriculture and Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS) ambassador.
“Brytany has transformed not only herself, but many students, faculty, and staff lives by shining a light on how to overcome a difficult past and use what you have learned to help others,” Gina Matkin, nominator, said.
Heyen, a senior international business and Clifton builders management major from Astoria, Oregon, was honored as a Student Luminary for her inclusion and positivity in peer leadership roles. She served as the president and first female managing director of Husker Venture Fund. Additionally, she is an active member of Startups UNL and Pride in Business.
“Her positive attitude and enthusiasm were contagious and encouraged others to embrace the ‘new normal’ with a positive attitude,” Samuel A. Nelson, nominator, said.
Jadwani, a merchandising graduate student in the College of Education and Human Sciences from Lincoln, was honored as a Student Luminary for her efforts toward sustainability and community outreach both in and out of the classroom. While being a student, she is also the owner of Namaste NYC in Gujarat, India.
“She has demonstrated academic excellence not in the classroom by maintaining her GPA, but also outside to create a friendly positive community locally and globally,” Maria De Guzman, nominator, said.
Nusterer, a senior chemical engineering major from Lincoln, was honored as a Student Luminary for his commitment to academic excellence and championing diversity, equity and inclusion in his leadership role within the Interfraternity Council.
“Mark is a dedicated and motivated individual who goes beyond expectations on every project and takes initiative to make everything and everyone around him better,” Hunter Flodman, nominator, said.
Osvaldo Palma Vargas
Palma Vargas, a senior sociology major from Grand Island, Nebraska, was honored as a Student Luminary for his passion for building an inclusive environment as a student worker and peer mentor in Nebraska College Preparatory Academy (NCPA).
“Osvaldo’s dedication to inclusion, work ethic, and commitment to other is what elevates him amount his peers,” Jenni Brost, nominator, said.
Pfeiffer, a junior psychology and political science major from Aurora, Illinois, was honored as a Student Luminary for her commitments to creating a positive campus environment as an undergraduate REACH suicide prevention trainer and executive team member of the Out of the Darkness student organization.
“Madelyn leads with respect and dignity to create an environment where others feel welcomed, accepted, valued, and safe,” Jessica Wagner, nominator, said.
Seyl, a senior psychology and biological science major from Overland Park, Kansas, was honored as a Student Luminary for her dedication to fostering inclusive communities on campus. She currently serves as the president of the Spectrum student organization and is a member of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Honors program.
“Christie provides a home community, and support network for students at UNL through Spectrum,” Harrison Lloyd, nominator, said.
Valdez, a senior criminal justice major from Jonesboro, Georgia, was honored as a Student Luminary for her advocacy of inclusion and well-being through peer leadership roles in TRIO, Delta Xi Nu Multicultural Sorority Inc., and the Mexican American Student Association (MASA).
“Dalilah’s dedication to social justice and inclusivity is truly inspiring. She has made a real difference in the lives of many students,” Cameya Ramirez-Rousseau, nominator, said.
Ziemann, a junior biological sciences and biochemistry major from Hickman, Nebraska, was honored as a Student Luminary for her passion and dedication to making others feel valued as a student member of the Chancellor’s Commission on the Status of People of Color.
“Chan shines as a student leader and is incredibly devoted to all that she gives her time, expertise, and talents towards,” Dr. Marianna Burks, nominator, said.