Samford University honored its top student leaders at the school's annual leadership and service convocation Thursday, May 1.
Scott McKaig won the James M. Sizemore award as the student in the senior class who best demonstrates character, personality, scholarship and unselfish service to Samford. Described as a "thoughtful leader with a heart for service," locally and globally, McKaig was cited for his strong commitment to Team Focus, a leadership and mentoring program for fatherless boys. He is a senior accounting major from Fort Wayne, Ind.
Cameron Thomas received the John R. Mott Award as the man in the graduating class who best represents high character, scholarship and student public service. A two-term Student Government Association president, Thomas is known on campus for his outstanding leadership ability, strong character and love for his "fellow Samfordians." Thomas is a senior religion major from Goodwater, Ala.
Frances Isbell received the Gail Hyle Memorial Award as the woman in the graduating class who best exemplifies Christian character, leadership, school spirit and service. Isbell was cited for never settling for the status quo, and for her advocacy for improved disability access on campus. Founder of DiversABILITY disability advocacy organization, Isbell also received a Rufus W. Shelton Community Service award as the female student who has done the most for betterment of life on campus. She is a senior English major from Gadsden, Ala.
Lindy Williamson received the Service Award as the senior who best exemplifies the highest qualities of social service. Her countless hours of service include work as founder/director of "Dance for Downs," an event created to raise funds and provide education and awareness through support of Down Syndrome Alabama. She is a human development and family life education major from Birmingham.
Jay Morris received a Rufus W. Shelton Award as the male student who has done the most for betterment of life at Samford. He was cited for his strong character that shines through the way he "lives his everyday life," brightening campus with his "friendly, outgoing spirit." He is a junior finance major from Columbus, Ga.
Kendall McPheeters and Barrett Merrill received Luke 2:52 awards, given to two undergraduate students who excel in all areas of student life: civic, social, spiritual and physical. McPheeters is a junior biology major from Owens Cross Roads, Ala. Merrill is a sophomore business major from Atlanta, Ga.
Micah Green-Holloway and Elizabeth Poulos received Omicron Delta Kappa freshman leadership awards as the male and female students who showed exemplary character leadership, service and scholarship during their first year at Samford. Green-Holloway is a business management major from Birmingham. Poulos is a science and religion major from Fayetteville, N.C.
Kaleigh Warwick received the Omicron Delta Kappa Circle Leader of the Year award for exemplary service to the circle and Samford community. The senior marketing and art major from Alpharetta, Ga., has served as president of the Samford circle of the national leadership honor society.
Numerous other students were recognized for their leadership in various academic, service and student government posts.
Samford chief marketing officer and longtime student leadership advocate Betsy Holloway shared thoughts on servant leadership with the convocation audience in Reid Chapel, observing that the world has never been in "greater need of servant leaders."
The challenges are many, with national problems of adult illiteracy, too many high school dropouts and a high imprisonment rate; and global issues of poverty, lack of clean water, sex and drug trafficking, and a rapidly rising population, with the "greatest increase in countries that are the least equipped to handle it," said Holloway, professor of marketing in Samford's Brock School of Business and longtime ODK sponsor at the university.
"We've made progress, but we have a long way to go," Holloway said, adding that she doesn't believe government agencies hold all the answers.
Technology will be a foundation to progress, she predicts, citing a growing quantity of useful knowledge along with a rise in the power of technology. "The question is what you will face in your lifetime and how will you serve," she said. "The issues will be complex, and the solutions will be complex."
Despite those realities, Holloway said she remains optimistic because of servant leaders like those at Samford. "Our faith instructs us to believe that through faith, hope and love, all is possible."
"You are the light of the world. Push back the darkness and let the light in," she challenged the students.
The convocation was organized and led by Samford's division of student affairs and enrollment management and its offices of student leadership and community engagement, university ministries and campus life.