NAU honors Class of 2021 President’s Prize, Gold Axe winners, Distinguished Seniors and standard bearers

President's Prize winners

In a virtual ceremony held April 7, Northern Arizona University President Rita Cheng honored the recipients of the President’s Prize, the Gold Axe Award and the Distinguished Senior Award, commending these graduating Lumberjacks for all that they accomplished in their NAU careers.

At the ceremony, 47 students received Gold Axe awards, and six of those students were named winners of the President’s Prize, the highest honor NAU has for undergraduates. They are:

  • Brianna Alvarado, a biomedical science major from Glendale, who became a TA because, as a freshman, she sought help to understand her own classes and wanted to be a source of support for younger students.
  • Anjelica Body, a psychological sciences and Honors College student from Chandler, started the Pinky Swear PACK on campus, which raises money for pediatric cancer, in honor of her best friend, who died of cancer when they were teenagers.
  • Joshua Caputo, an environmental sciences student from Sierra Vista and member of the logging team who conducted research on the endemic plant species Pectic imberbis, while spending his summers as a wildland firefighter for the Forest Service.
  • Joseph Carter, a computer science major from Tucson who, as 2020-21 ASNAU president established the Advocacy Committee to ensure students’ voices were heard and important issues moved forward.
  • Jennifer Ely, microbiology Honors College student from Tucson, who presented a research project on cancer and became a global ambassador for NAU after doing a study abroad in the United Kingdom.
  • Jacqueline Lyman, a biology and modern languages Honors College student from Chandler, led the first all-woman multidisciplinary STEM club and, in addition to significant research, including into COVID-19, did a study abroad in Spain.

The Distinguished Seniors are: Luna Slater (College of Arts and Letters); Hannah Gish (College of Education); Corey Cline (College of Engineering, Informatics, and Applied Sciences); Yazhmin Dozal (College of the Environment, Forestry, and Natural Sciences); Aarish Raza (College of Health and Human Services); Leah Weich (College of Social and Behavioral Sciences); Alaina Beck (NAU Online and Statewide); Sierra Coleman (NAU-Yuma); and Madison Clark (The W. A. Franke College of Business).

The standard bearers for each college are: Carly Arechiga (College of Arts and Letters); Ava Miller (College of Education); Megan Gialluca (College of Engineering, Informatics, and Applied Sciences); Dominick Ryan (College of the Environment, Forestry, and Natural Sciences); Aarish Raza (College of Health and Human Services); Nyelah Mitchell (College of Social and Behavioral Sciences); Brynn Bierer (NAU Online and Statewide); and Breanna Frenette (The W. A. Franke College of Business).

President Cheng invited the students to reflect on how far they’ve come in their educational experience. She was proud of them all, she noted, adding a special note of gratitude for the faculty, staff, families and friends who supported students through one of the strangest, most difficult years.

“They all have completed what their degrees required of them and gone the extra mile to stand out in their fields of study,” she said. “They have done so under enormous pressure and uncertainty, and all of the students being honored today embody the Lumberjack spirit of achievement and service. I am excited for all that they will accomplish and share with the world.”

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.

Watch the ceremony online.

Top photo: President’s Prize winners Brianna Alvarado, Anjelica Body, Joseph Caputo, Joseph Carter, Jennifer Ely and Jacqueline Lyman

Gold Axe

Distinguished Seniors

Standard Bearer