Nominations being accepted for Distinguished Senior Awards

John Wills, Staff Reporter

Eastern’s Alumni Services is now accepting nominations for the 2021 Distinguished Senior Awards, an award granted to small select group of individuals who have promoted the “enrichment of the community” on campus, according to a recent release from the Eastern newsletter.

The award has been granted to 25 notable seniors each year for the past two decades. In order to qualify, you must be a senior student, graduating in Spring, Summer, or Fall 2021, who has earned at least a 3.0 GPA and has demonstrated some significant contribution to campus life.

The honor is notable in that it could be awarded to any senior who shows interest and is not limited to a small group of people in a certain department or category, as some awards are.

Last year’s Distinguished Senior recipients varied greatly in background: the list of last years’ seniors includes majors ranging from kinesiology to political and English, as well as hometowns across the map from Toledo, Ohio, to Woodland Hills, California.

The Alumni Services board is a non-profit volunteer organization made up of Eastern alum that contribute significantly to the university. Alongside these volunteers there is a group of University staff members that work with the volunteer board in transferring information and making communication smoother between the two entities.

Amber May is an assistant director for Eastern’s Alumni Services and was the one to officially announce the opening of nominations for the award in the Eastern newsletter last week. She is also the main connection between the Scholarship Committee on the volunteer board and the University.

“I’m the liaison to the board, so I send the information over to them, and then the committee makes the decision on the final 25,” May said.

May explained that while significant contributions to the community as a whole are required, it is also necessary to make a strong case to the committee about your eligibility through your application. Students may complete any variety of volunteer work or club and organization involvement, most notably in groups like Student Senate or the executive board of some RSOs, but this is not to suggest that more involvement equals a better chance. A student with less direct experience who can effectively argue their case for eligibility is likely to receive the award alongside someone who has simply done a lot to support the community.

“I just hope students know that there’s nothing too small to put in their application,” May said. “It can be something you’ve done in Charleston, outside of Charleston, back at home in your 4 years at Eastern… anything, as long as it’s made wherever you are a better place.”

As is the case with most ceremonies, the award’s recognition ceremony has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The fate of the ceremony, and its overall capacity, are currently uncertain.

“Pre-COVID, we had a small award ceremony for the 25, and they would be recognized at commencement,” May said.

Applications for the 2021 award are due on April 8.


John Wills can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]