Sasha Ross of Vermillion was presented with the Rosa Louise Parks Award, which is awarded to a USD student who contributes to intercultural awareness, supports diverse activities and demonstrates positive interactions with others. Mary Lou Christopherson of Vermillion, a Program Assistant II for University Housing/Student Life, received the Vive Le Difference Award, which recognizes a Career Services Employee who supports and fosters diversity on the USD campus; and Gene Thin Elk, director of Native Student Services, was presented with the Dream Catcher Award as an individual – through his deeds or actions – who represent the principles of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., including social justice, equality and the preservation of King’s “dream.”

Marc Bury of Rapid City, S.D. was presented with the Dave Lorenz Senior Leadership Award. Named in honor of Dave Lorenz, former Dean of Students at USD, this award is given to a graduating senior who has enriched campus life throughout his or her tenure. Jennifer Jones of Vermillion was presented with the Servant Leader Scholarship Award by the Gary and Judy Marx Endowment. This award, presented by the College of Arts and Sciences, is awarded annually to an undergraduate or graduate student for understanding the obligations as citizens of a local community and a sense of responsibility as a citizen of the world and custodian of the planet.

Joe Erickson of Slayton, Minn. received the Office of Student Life’s Community Spirit Award, awarded to a student whose work demonstrates a compassion for others through efforts in community service on a local, national or global level; and Brent Olinger of Emery, S.D., Brenan Tjelmeland of Blair, Neb. and Ashley Miller of Aberdeen, S.D. were honored with the Outstanding Leadership and Service Award from the Office of Student Life. Michelle Corio of Elk Point, S.D. received the Outstanding Diversity Leadership Award while three students were honored as Unsung Leaders: Aris Rodriguez of Vermillion, Hanna McElroy of Sioux City, Iowa, and A.J. Meyer of Blairsburg, Iowa.

Erik Junso of Watertown, S.D. was presented with the Service Learning Advocate Award, given annually to a student who exemplifies leadership in the doctrine of service-learning; and William Lewis of Pierre, S.D. received USD’s New Student Leader Award, presented to a first-year student who has become involved in campus or community activities. Elizabeth Beall of Vermillion received Community Advisor of the Year and Casey Coates of Rapid City, S.D. was awarded the Rookie Community Advisor of the Year.

The School of Law honored Kristi Jones of Columbus, Neb. with the Student Bar Association Student Leadership Award while Suzanne Jones Pranger of Burke S.D. was honored with the 2013 Leadership and Service Award. Meghan McCauley-Loof of Vermillion and Samantha Hargrave of McCook Lake, S.D. each received the law school’s R.D. Hurd Volunteer Law School Society Outstanding Pro Bono Services and Leadership Award. Megan Hertz of Laurens, Iowa, Marissa Miller of Hartford, S.D. and Joe Barth of Hazlet, N.J. each received the School of Education Outstanding Leadership Award. The School of Health Sciences awarded Student Leader Awards to Abby Tracy of Vermillion and Heather Bailey of Sioux Falls, S.D. and Eric Wiedenman of Huron, S.D. was the recipient of the Graduate Student Leadership Award.

Andrew Finzen (Phi Delta Theta) of North Sioux City, S.D. was named Fraternity President of the Year and Kristin Wempe (Pi Beta Phi) of Mitchell, S.D. was named Sorority President of the Year. Amber Groh of Vermillion, director of Sorority/Fraternity Life & Leadership, received Outstanding Advisor of the Year. Pi Kappa Alpha was the Fraternity of the Year while Kappa Alpha Theta was Sorority of the Year.

Three organizations were recipients of South Dakota Board of Regents Awards. The BOR Award for Organizational Leadership went to the Union of African American Students and received by Taylor Moore of Milwaukee, Wis.; BOR Award for Academic Excellence was presented to the Panhellenic Council and the BOR Award for Community Service was awarded to Alternative Week of Off-campus Learning (AWOL).

Additional awards were presented to Nate Bucholz of Monroe, S.D. for “Best in Show” Stillwell Art Competition; Stephanie Andell of O'Fallon, Ill. for the “110% Award” from University Libraries; Laci Paul of Vermillion for Most Dependable (University Libraries); Taylor Barstow of Omaha, Neb. received the University Library Assistant: Student Assistant of the Year; Brian Twenter of Sioux Falls, S.D. and Joseph Rezac of Renner, S.D. received the John W. Carlson Research Grant presented by the College of Arts and Sciences; Alyssa Marquardt of Canistota, S.D., Rosie Ahmed and Desirae Wiesler of Orient, S.D. received the Dean Joseph H. Cash Award for Excellence in Writing; and Kendra Howard of Remsen, Iowa received the Student Ambassador of the Year for exemplifying true commitment to the Office of Admissions and university community.

Students recognized at the awards ceremony were nominated by peers, faculty and staff members. All students, undergraduate or graduate, were eligible for nomination.

A photo of Christopherson receiving her award from Beth Boyd, professor of psychology, is available at; while a photo of Ross receiving her award from Boyd can be downloaded at Dream Catcher recipient Gene Thin Elk also has a photograph available for download at

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