On Saturday, March 11, West Chester University and the WCU Foundation hosted the 14th Annual WCU Student Affairs Legacy of Leadership. The event honored alumni and distinguished faculty who have demonstrated service leadership and supported student leaders.
Not only that, but the dinner also raised funds for student organizations on campus.
The event recognized eight honorees and encouraged friends and family to attend as well.
The event began at 5 p.m. in Sykes Student Union, where attendees participated in a reception. Students were encouraged to network and talk to faculty, staff and alumni.
This year’s honorees included Dr. Matthew Bricketto, Kerri (George) Gardi, Jonathon Kreamer, Bruce Light, James F. Silva III, Aneesah Smith, Dr. Philip Thompsen and Dr. Joseph Yozviak.
Dinner was served at 6 p.m. with not only an array of Italian food arranged in a buffet style, but also an arrangement of desserts set up at each individual table.
The event began shortly after with an opening statement from Dr. Zebulun Davenport, vice president of Student Affairs, where each honoree was asked to stand up and be recognized.
Davenport also recognized previous honorees that were in attendance.
This was followed by presidential remarks from Dr. Christopher M. Fiorentino, president of WCU. Fiorentino spoke about the lasting effects of leadership preparation and pressed the importance of protecting its legacy, saying, “leadership development is a key to solid and lasting success.”
After those remarks, Davenport took the stage once again to stress the importance in recognizing the legacy of leadership left by students.
After this, honoree introductions began, where honorees were each introduced by a student and asked to give a brief speech.
Sarah Hinkle, assistant vice president for Student Affairs, led honoree introductions.
The first honoree of the night was Bricketto, former vice president for Student Affairs and Dean of Students. Bricketto spoke about his personal role in student leadership positions and the importance of current undergraduate students to take part in these positions.
“To the current student leaders… get all you can out of your undergraduate experience… give it all that you can because the time will go quickly,” said Bricketto.
He also commended recent developments in undergraduate leadership programs.
“Take full advantage of the leadership training… it’s a really solid program. You’ll take this with you for the rest of your life,” said Bricketto.
This was followed by Gardi, an alumna from the class of ’91, who spoke about the importance of coercing friends and colleagues to get involved in student leadership, as she was coerced.
“Charge yourself with a quest to say something to someone, like ‘Have you thought about joining this?’ You can really change the trajectory of someone’s career,” said Gardio.
After Gardi was Kreamer, an alumnus from the class of ’99 who also received his Master’s from WCU in ’14. Kreamer talked about the importance of passion for the work and the ability to strive for excellence is extremely pertinent to student leaders.
Light, an alumnus from the class of ’97, tailed Kreamer. Light started off by saying, “If you dream it, you can do it,” a phrase attributed to Disney.
Light explained how that quote helped drive him to WCU and spoke about the importance of leaders to recognize the faults in themselves in order to strive to be better and overcome those faults.
After this, Silva, an alumnus of the class of ’96, expressed gratitude for being apart of this legacy of leadership and the importance of faith as a leader.
“You have the ability to influence others. Believe in yourself and believe in your people. When you are a leader, it becomes about them, and not about you. Explain the reasons why you do what you do and why you think what you think,” said Silva.
He also encouraged students to look towards the future and the goals they have set for themselves, and allow that to guide them as leaders.
Smith, who graduated with the class of ’02 and received her Master’s in 2005, talked about the mentors who inspired her and how she decided to be part of student involvement and leadership because of them. She then quoted Audre Lorde, a writer, feminist and civil rights activist:
“I write for those women who do not speak, for those who do not have a voice because they were so terrified, because we are taught to respect fear more than ourselves. We’ve been taught that silence would save us, but it won’t.”
She recited this to encourage student leaders to lead inclusively and remember all identities, citing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy of inclusiveness.
After Smith, Thompsen, a professor in the communication studies department as well as the former faculty advisor for The Quad, thanked the people who put the Legacy of Leadership dinner together.
Thompsen spoke about his time dedicated to broadcasting and journalism at the university. He also took the time to speak directly to his students, saying, “I want to dedicate my award tonight to my students,” and that wherever his students go, he wants them to know that he is proud of them.
The final speaker was Yozviak, an alumnus of the class of ’99. Yozviak is the fourth of five siblings to be receiving this award. He focused on the importance of finding genuine, focused care for LGBTQA people, and how he was working on a program for that purpose.
Davenport ended the night with final remarks, citing the importance of what students spend their time doing outside of the classroom, and how they must pave the way for us.
Davenport wrapped up the night akin to Yozviak’s words for current student leader, stating, “Be there for those who are coming up behind you as well.”
Kinjal Shah is a third-year student majoring in English writings track. She can be reached at KS826308@wcupa.edu.