President José Luis Cruz Rivera presented the President’s Prize, Gold Axe awards and the Distinguished Senior awards to students at a ceremony on April 10, honoring their hard work and accomplishments during their careers at NAU.
The students came from a pool of applicants selected by the Office of Leadership & Engagement. The program is co-sponsored by the Office of the President, NAU Alumni and ASNAU.
Cruz Rivera honored 50 Gold Axe winners, including five President’s Prize winners—the highest honor awarded to undergraduate students. Additionally, nine students were honored as Distinguished Seniors of their colleges.
“It is humbling and inspiring to be able to recognize our students who have accomplished so much and contributed to and enriched our community in so many ways,” he said. “They have shown incredible resilience and determination to arrive at this point in their academic and personal journeys and are exceptional role models by excelling in their studies and giving back in such meaningful ways.”
The President’s Prize winners are:
- Tyler Best, a political science student and ASNAU senator who represented the student body on the Strategic Roadmap committee and participated in the Campus Dining Advisory Committee, which worked to provide more food options and more sustainable options for on-campus restaurants.
- Hailey Case, a strategic communications major who participated in the First-Generation STAR program, worked at NAZ Today, won the 2022 Jacks Big IDEA competition, did undergraduate research on a mentorship resources study and mentored other students during her time at NAU.
- Sarah Chatter, a public health student who served on the NAU Council of Indigenous Ambassadors and Commission for Indigenous Peoples, did research with the Native American Cancer Prevention’s Navajo Healthy Stomach Project, did significant volunteer work on the Navajo Nation and worked in the Office of Indigenous Student Success for four years.
- Alexa Franco, getting dual degrees in international affairs and Spanish and founded Somos NAU, was a member of the Black Student Union and Latine Student Union, interned with Coconico County and served as a peer mentor for TRIO Student Support Services and a fellow for Living United for Change in Arizona.
- Analise Thomas, a social work major and Honors College student who worked in NAU No More Deaths and NAU Global Brigades, did an independent study around the U.S.-Mexico border and did an internship and study abroad with Global Brigades in Honduras.
Distinguished Seniors are: Skylar Gilbert (College of Health and Human Services); Jessica Muniz (NAU Yuma); Heather Hanks (NAU Online and Statewide); Katelyn Fix (College of Arts and Letters); Derek Lake (College of the Environment, Forestry, and Natural Sciences); Aeden Gillam (College of Engineering, Informatics, and Applied Sciences); Elliana Panzarella (College of Education); David Brown (The W. A. Franke College of Business); and Yesenia Cruz Carrillo (College of Social and Behavioral Sciences).
The standard bearers for each college are: Heather Hanks (NAU Online and Statewide); Skylar Gilbert (College of Health and Human Services); Gabrielle Acosta (College of Engineering, Informatics, and Applied Sciences); Ainsley Brubaker (College of Education); Katelyn Fix (College of Social and Behavioral Sciences); Samuel Smith (The W. A. Franke College of Business); Yazzie Summers (College of Arts and Letters); and Van Nhi Nguyen (College of the Environment, Forestry, and Natural Sciences).