Northern Arizona University announced its 45 Gold Axe winners at a banquet Tuesday night, honoring the most accomplished students in the class of 2018 as well as distinguished seniors from each college.
Out of that exceptional class of seniors, five were chosen for the President’s Prize, the most prestigious award NAU offers to undergrads. The President’s Prize winners are René Coggins, a triple major and member of the Honors College as well as a two-time Academic All-American athlete and a four-year starter on the women’s basketball team; Brandon Corrales, a Flagstaff native and fitness/wellness major who started his collegiate career at Yavapai College after suffering serious injuries as a soldier in Iraq; Honors student Lauren L’Ecuyer, who is finishing her year as student body president just in time to become the next student regent; Étude O’Neel-Judy, a physics student who became a Goldwater Scholar in 2017; and Celena Wallace, a former foster care child and creative media and film major who worked multiple jobs to put herself through college and help her family while also taking time to study abroad, be a peer mentor and volunteer in the community.
The distinguished seniors, which each college selects from its graduates, are Essence McClain; Ashley Sergent; Olivia Thomas; Grant Sears, Aria Ottmueller; René Coggins and Brittany Peterson. Alison Bauers, a nursing student, received the Joseph C. and Marie M. Rolle Award for Excellence.
“It is extraordinary how much these students have accomplished and grown during the past four years, inside and outside the classroom,” President Rita Cheng said. “Each of their experiences is unique and special, and each of them has forged their own path. Their passion and commitment to their education and to NAU, and their service to others, is inspiring.”
The tradition of the Gold Axe Award dates back to 1933, a year after the student body adopted the axe as the symbol for Lumberjack athletics. NAU adopted the tradition of awarding small gold axe pins to outstanding members of the student body. To this day, the gold axe pin is considered the official emblem of the Associated Students of NAU and is presented each semester to recognize students’ outstanding achievements and distinguished service to the university and the greater community.