Student Experience Awards Gala Honors Those Who Shape the Culture at Mississippi College
An award ceremony was the last thing on Evan Warnick’s mind when he elected to participate in service organizations at Mississippi College.
Volunteering comes naturally to the senior kinesiology/pre-physical therapy major from Tupelo. So, when he received the Student Experience Servant Leadership Award during the Student Experience Awards Gala last year, he was floored.
“Hearing my name called for an award was an honor,” the 2022 Welcome Week co-chair said. “I never thought I would be a part of such a wonderful ceremony celebrating some of the leaders and servants on campus, and I was surprised that I would be among such outstanding individuals.
“Highlighting organizations and leaders shows that Mississippi College is an institution that truly cares for them and does not take their hard work for granted. These amazing people have worked hard to make their organizations and leadership roles run smoothly, and I am glad there is a space and time to celebrate them for that hard work.”
The Division of Student Experience will recognize outstanding student leaders of all classifications who have contributed to campus life at MC during its fourth Student Experience Awards Gala on Thursday, April 20, in Anderson Hall in the B.C. Rogers Student Center. According to Jonathan Ambrose, associate vice president for the student experience and dean of students at MC, the ceremony has continued to grow each year.
“We wanted to take the opportunity to recognize some of our stellar students,” said Ambrose, who conceived of the gala. “We started by presenting some of the major awards that have been a staple at Mississippi College for many years – the Hall of Fame and Founders Award.
“We recognized we were graduating some outstanding people who had done some amazing things on this campus and have given back to MC, so we decided to create some other awards to help recognize some of these students.”
This year, a dozen different awards will be presented to faculty, staff, and students who have illustrated by their actions what Mississippi College’s culture of service and commitment to the cause of Christ truly means.
“It’s an amazing night to close the year out by honoring some of the best of the best of Mississippi College that have given back so much during their time here,” Ambrose said.
What makes the event special for Jonathan Nutt, assistant dean of students in the Office of Student Engagement, are the reactions from parents when their students’ names are called.
“The surprise on their faces is great, especially when they hear how their students have impacted the campus,” Nutt said. “Watching the parents get emotional, seeing how very proud of their students they are . . . of course, it’s cool to see the students be excited and honored by the awards as well.”
The Division of Student Experience solicits award nominations from the entire Mississippi College campus community, and a committee of staff members selects the winners from among the nominees. A student committee helps choose the Hall of Fame inductees.
Those honored at the gala receive a standard invitation and the option to invite up to three guests, but the identities of the award recipients are kept confidential until they are announced during the ceremony. Warnick said the custom lends a welcome bit of intrigue to the ceremony.
“Keeping the identities secret until the event allows us not to get ahead of ourselves,” he said. “It lets those being celebrated and their families and friends enjoy the moment.
“We do not get galas and award ceremonies every day – it makes each memory made at these ceremonies much sweeter.”
New this year are a pair of awards presented by the Office of Student Success. The Student Success Champion Award will recognize one MC faculty member and one MC staff member for promoting a holistic student experience and creating an environment that supports success in school and in life.
For the first time, the editor of the “Tribesman” will formally announce the MC faculty or staff member to whom the MC student yearbook will be dedicated.
Warnick said it’s fitting that contributions made by faculty and staff members to the MC experience will be recognized alongside those of students.
“The awards gala is a physical representation of the respect, love, and appreciation we have for all of those who serve Mississippi College, the city of Clinton, and the Jackson metropolitan area,” he said. “I never want to take for granted the hard work that the students and organizations do day in and day out, and I am fortunate to be able to see some of the work that is shaping the culture of Mississippi College.”
Ambrose said the gala reflects the excellence of those who call Mississippi College home.
“I tell people all the time the product that we produce in our students is the best in the world,” he said. “It’s incredible to stand before these students and recognize them for it. That is the culmination of their time at Mississippi College.
“Many of these students have given much to make Mississippi College what it is. They are cemented in the tradition and history of this storied University, and to watch that come full circle is incredible.”
Awards to be presented during the gala include:
Established in 1960, the Hall of Fame is awarded to four senior students – two female and two male – for outstanding leadership ability, scholastic achievement, extracurricular activities, participation and contribution to student life, and dedication to serving God and their fellow man. Among the highest honors to be presented at MC, Hall of Fame members are chosen by a select student committee.
The Scott-Swor Founder’s Award recognizes a senior student for making a significant contribution to the student life of the college and exemplifying the ideals of the University’s founders and their successors, quality of living, leadership, and service. The award is named in memory of Dr. Charles W. Scott, who served the MC community for 30 years, and Dr. Chester E. Swor, a Baptist evangelist, alumnus, and former MC faculty member.
Senior Awards of Excellence in Leadership are presented to senior students who distinguish themselves by their visionary leadership on campus and their vision of greatness.
The Community Impact Award recognizes a student who has devoted his or her time and energy to serving the greater Jackson metropolitan area and empower members of the MC community to love their neighbors in tangible, life-changing ways.
Student Experience Servant Leadership Awards acknowledge sophomore and junior students who have served the campus as a whole and are actively leading through engagement, service to the institution, and living MC’s Christian mission.
The Freshman of the Year Awards recognize one female and one male student for their ability to emulate the vision and mission of the University throughout their first year at Mississippi College.
Spirit of MC Awards are presented to freshmen students who have ignited their college careers at MC, stepping into their roles as young leaders by cultivating a positive atmosphere and experience for their classes and the campus community.
The Student Organization Award of Excellence acknowledges a registered MC student organization committed to the continued advancement of MC’s mission and the engagement of the student body in the vision of the student organization.
The Student Organization Advisor of the Year Award of Excellence recognizes a faculty or staff sponsor of an MC student organization, club, or tribe who goes “above and beyond” to assist students and contribute to the life of the student organization he or she advises.
The Community Partner of the Year Award is presented to a local business or organization that has served MC with excellence throughout the academic year.
The Perry Academic Awards were established by Mr. and Mrs. M. W. Perry (Marion Walter Perry ’32 and Effie Elaine McDonald Perry ’33) to recognize scholastic achievement at Mississippi College.
Student Success Champion Awards recognize one full-time faculty member and one full-time staff member engaged with undergraduate and/or graduate students at MC for their exceptional activities that involve broad, collaborative participation supporting a sustained commitment to student success.