President’s Prize recipients, Gold Axe Award winners, Distinguished Seniors recognized at ceremony

2021 Gold Axe winners

At the Gold Axe and Distinguished Senior Awards Ceremony for the Fall 2021 semester, held Nov. 16, President José Luis Cruz Rivera presented the President’s Prize, the Gold Axe Award and the Distinguished Senior Award to their recipients, honoring their efforts and accomplishments during their time at NAU. 

President Cruz Rivera and 2021 President's Prize winners
Maree Mahkewa, President Cruz Rivera and Angel Marshall

Cruz Rivera awarded 29 students with the Gold Axe award, and two of those students were also awarded the President’s Prize, the highest honor undergraduates can receive at NAU. Maree Mahkewa, an environmental and sustainability studies major, conducted research on the pinyon-juniper woodlands and was an IndigePeer Mentor, providing support to incoming Indigenous students to help ensure a smooth transition into university life. Angel Marshall is a biomedical science major who was a mentor in the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation and in the Edge Leadership Experience because she wanted to help other students grow into leaders on NAU’s campus, like her mentors did for her. 

The Distinguished Seniors are: Avery Pope (College of Arts and Letters); Bridget Lehman (College of Education); Tianpai Le (College of Engineering, Informatics, and Applied Sciences); Melanie Palma Avila (College of the Environment, Forestry, and Natural Sciences); Enrique Ramirez (College of Health and Human Services); Megan Portillo (College of Social and Behavioral Sciences); Steven Siqueiros (NAU Online and Statewide); Kristen Canada (NAU-Yuma); and Jordyn Russek (The W. A. Franke College of Business). 

Distinguished Seniors
The 2021 Distinguished Seniors for each college

The standard bearers for each college are: Mia Irvin (College of Arts and Letters); Kaitlyn Arns (College of Education); Matthew Schoonmaker (College of Engineering, Informatics, and Applied Sciences); Melissa Tiger Casman (College of the Environment, Forestry, and Natural Sciences); Brook LaRosk (College of Health and Human Services); Michael Huff (College of Social and Behavioral Sciences); Kristen Canada (NAU Online and Statewide); and Olivia Krueger (The W. A. Franke College of Business). 

“It is humbling and inspiring to be able to recognize our students, who have accomplishment so much and contributed to and enriched our community in so many ways,” President Cruz Rivera said. “All of them have shown incredible resilience and determination to arrive at this point in their academic and personal journeys, and all of them have achieved a tremendous amount to excel in their studies and give back in such meaningful ways. Their passion is inspiring, and their involvement and leadership has added to the distinctive excellence of our Lumberjack community.”

The Gold Axe Award dates back to 1933, awarding small gold axe pins to symbolize the excellence of NAU students. ASNAU, the Office of Leadership, Engagement, Activities and Peer Mentoring and the Office of Alumni Engagement come together to determine which students have represented NAU well outside of the classroom through their involvement in student organizations, the community and their academic college.

Click to view an accessible version of the Gold Axe and Distinguished Senior winners.

Gold Axe winners



Distinguished Seniors

NAU Communications