This award recognizes student leaders that impact the WSU community and encourage others to learn and engage with leadership offerings at WSU.
To be considered for the Student Leader of the Month Award, a nomination must be submitted by a student, staff, or faculty member of WSU. Students may also submit a nomination on their own behalf. One student may receive multiple nominations within the same month. The nomination can be based on any leadership activities the student has been involved in throughout their time at WSU.
Each recipient of this award shall receive an individual recognition plaque and will have their name included on a plaque in the Student Involvement office. The recipient will also be interviewed on how they got involved at WSU and suggestions they have for others who want to get involved. This information will go out in student publications as a way to spread the word about what students have learned in their involvements.
Each nomination will be reviewed by a committee from the Leadership Center in Student Involvement. Awardees will be announced on the 1st of each month. Please direct all questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
November: Kyle Strachila
About: Kyle Strachila is a Coug from humble beginnings on his family’s dairy farm near Bellingham, WA. He’s currently earning a degree in Economic Sciences with an emphasis in Agriculture, as well as a minor in Business and Spanish.
Kyle has been involved with ASWSU and Greek life for the past four years, serving multiple terms on the ASWSU executive staff and his fraternity’s executive board. Elected as the ASWSU Vice President in April 2016, Kyle built upon successful programs as well as implemented fresh ideas to allow all Cougs to come together.
Thoughts from Kyle: “Most of us learned the importance of seeking leadership opportunities for resumes, and this motivation is the exact opposite of how it should be.
Over time, I’ve realized the most important aspect is servant leadership. To me servant leadership is getting fully behind the project or organization by believing in the mission of what it is supposed to be accomplished.
Through servant leadership, credit of the success doesn’t matter as long as the collective ideal is created.
The best advice I can offer to younger students starting their leadership journey here at WSU is to find your opportunity for servant leadership. Seek a mission that aligns with your life values and motives, and work towards accomplishing it without concerning yourself with who gets credit.”
– Kyle Strachila
February: Celia Balderas
About: Celia Balderas is a Coug from Pasco, WA. As a first-generation college student, Celia has worked hard to involve herself in the Pullman community.
Celia serves on the CUB Advisory Board and is heavily involved with the Chicana/o Latina/o Student Center, Greek life, and multicultural conferences and organizations. She is also involved in the NUFP Fellowship and recently received the Undergraduate Rising Star award at the2016 Northwest NASPA Conference.
Thoughts from Celia: “Part of my leadership story is to share the knowledge I have gained and the learning experiences I’ve had. I’ve learned that you must take care of yourself, you should take risks, accept your mistakes and learn from them, and enjoy what you do. With time you develop your own style of leading.
During my time at WSU I have been a part of several different clubs and organizations such as M.E.Ch.A., Kappa Delta Chi Sorority Inc. (KDChi), United Greek Council (UGC). I held various leadership and committee positions and served as the Vice President of Scholarship and Administration during the Spring 2016 and Fall 2016 semesters for UGC. My most recent leadership position was serving as the President of Kappa Delta Chi.
While being part of these organizations I developed a passion for working with college students. While in these leadership positions I found my calling and now I plan to attend graduate school and go into the Student Affairs field. For students looking to start their leadership journey and enhance their engagement I would tell them to be their true self and to take every opportunity they have to grow.”
– Celia Balderas
December: Leoma James
About: Leoma James attended private schools in Seattle, WA. Leoma is studying political science, communications broadcasting, and comparative ethnic studies to continue her family’s legacy of activism and involvement in revolutionary movements.
Leoma has been actively involved with the VIBES conference, Black Student Union, God’s Harmony, and the African Friendship Association.
Thoughts from Leoma: “Never stop pushing forward, follow your dreams and ask for support when you need it. Finding what you are passionate about comes from trial and error. I overcome challenges I am faced by acknowledging that the current step is the not the final step; trust the process.
Everything might not go as planned but being flexible and not giving up on your dreams will give you the desired outcome. Don’t spend your whole college career wishing you would have joined an organization or community. Start by reaching out to them, help out in small ways like volunteering or attending an event and then decide whether or not that organization is the correct fit for you.
Leadership is not all about the person who is standing in the front, it’s about the person who is willing to lead by example and love with purpose.”
- Leoma James
March: Clayton Simundson
About: Clayton Simundson is a Coug from Richland, WA, and was a redshirt freshman walk-on for our WSU football team for the 2013 season.
He has also been involved in an internship and Hazard Communication programming at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. Clayton has provided integral membership to the WSU Sigma Nu fraternity chapter, serving as Alumni Officer, President, and currently as Collegiate Grand Councilman, where he is one of four voting representatives nationwide serving on the national Sigma Nu Board of Directors.
Thoughts from Clayton: “When you invest yourself in something you are truly passionate about, the opportunities that will present themselves are endless. I have learned so much more than I ever could have asked for through my time as president, as well as my time serving on the board of directors. I am truly thankful for all that the fraternity has taught me, and the opportunity to have served Sigma Nu’s at Washington State and across our great nation!
You are going to be faced with challenges when you are in a leadership role. There will be times when the right choice is the harder one to make over an easier wrong. Leadership is never about popularity; it is always about doing the best thing for your organization overall. When you are faced with challenges as a leader you are never alone. Every leader has a team of other reliable people/leaders in the organization; utilize your team to help identify the right route forward and how to overcome that challenge.
Leadership comes in all different forms. Leadership isn't a title; it is the ability to lead a group of people toward a goal no matter what your role is. You must believe 100% in what you are doing. You can do great things as long as you apply yourself with an all-in mentality. You already made one of your best choices by becoming a Coug, now find something you are truly passionate about and make a difference. That is the Cougar way!” – Clayton
January: Hannah Donnelly
About: Hannah Donnelly struggled with mental illness as young adult. Hannah is pursuing a degree in psychology focusing on suicide prevention. Hannah is an active member of her sorority and church, and also founded the WSU chapter for the non-profit organization To Write Love On Her Arms, a group dedicated to providing support and educating students about mental health and suicide prevention.
Thoughts from Hannah: “Serving others is engraved in my heart. Throughout my life, I've been exposed to mental illness that has impacted me and the people I love. Even the lowest valleys bring lessons to equip me in helping others.
My dreams are to let people know that they are loved and so much more than what is hurting them. To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA) is a national organization dedicated to providing hope and finding help for those affected by mental illness. Since founding this chapter, many opportunities have come my way regarding mental health, including involvement in committees and campus-wide movements. Although my biggest obstacle has been myself, I have learned to trust in my abilities.
Think about the passions you have and what you're good at. Think about the things you've been through in life that have lead you and refined you to be who you are today. Everyone has a different story and a different mark to make in this world. Do not let fear have a foothold on your dreams and aspirations; they are there for a reason. It is sometimes those people we never imagine anything of, that do the things no one can imagine.”
– Hannah Donnelly
April: Anita Mendoza
About: Anita Mendoza has been an active member of MEChA for four years, aiding in increasing awareness and strengthening the Chican@/Latin@ student community at WSU. Anita currently serves as the committee’s chairwoman, and has coordinated multiple large events held by MEChA that have continued and expanded their mission of providing support and community for Chican@/Latin@ students. Anita is also involved in Greek Life and has been an active voice for the multicultural student community.
Thoughts from Anita: "I never thought of myself as a leader. I always did my best in each position, and it just happened that I'd be chosen for leadership positions within my organizations.
I do my best to fulfill my duties and push the people around me to do the same. I love to help people and I always see the potential that others have. I got involved my freshman year and jumped into a position my first semester with MEChA and thought it was a good way to meet new people.
I found my passion through different organizations that taught me about my culture, history, and the impact one individual can have on a community.
I used my support systems to overcome challenges. My friends, family, and sorority sisters have been my biggest support and push me to be better than I was yesterday.
My advice is do not be scared to jump into a position in a new organization. Put yourself out there and challenge yourself to do something different than what you are used to." – Anita