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Each year at the Graduation Celebration Banquet, the college announces winners of the Robert W. Lope Award and Clarence H. Koehler Award. Pratikshya Bhandari of Nepal won the Clarence H. Kohler Campus Senior Award, and Devon Hay of West Allis won the Robert W. Lope Award.
The Koehler Award goes to the full-time student at the main campus who qualifies academically and who best exemplifies Lakeland's spirit through engagement in campus activities and exemplary commitment to the Lakeland community.
The Lope Award goes to the Kellett School graduate who has shown unusual persistence, dedication and commitment in the course of earning their bachelor's degree.
(Adapted from the presentation remarks by Erin Kohl, interim vice president for the Kellett School.)
Devon Hay began her educational journey with Lakeland in 2008, eight years after completing her associate's degree. She was determined to pursue her education with a specific goal in mind: to operate her own childcare center. She personified perseverance, enrolling in nine-12 credits each term while also working 50-60 hours per week. She overcame personal obstacles in the pursuit of her degree. Since the age of 12, she has been legally blind. For some, this may have proven too difficult to overcome, but for Devon, this personal challenge motivated her to excel and to attain her goals. She realized one of her professional goals and has become the owner of a childcare center.
Devon has been a role model for other students. By maintaining a positive attitude, a strong work ethic and a commitment to excellence, she has helped to inspire others to overcome their own personal challenges. She continues to be an advocate for education, not only at the early childhood level, but at all levels.
In the words of her advisor, Devon is "a dedicated, enthusiastic and driven teacher, student and entrepreneur. Her story is an illustration of the great opportunities that are available in our country for people from all walks of life that are willing to work hard and achieve their dreams despite any obstacles that are placed before them."
Devon says, "I loved the flexibility available through Lakeland's BlendEd model. I also loved the personal connections with the instructors. When life would conflict with a deadline, my professors were always willing to listen and meet in the middle, and their concern was greatly appreciated." As for what she would say to her fellow new graduates: "It is all worthwhile when you see the difference you have made in your life and the lives of those who have supported you through the journey."
(Adapted from presentation remarks by Scott Niederjohn, associate professor of business administration and the chair of the Business Division.)
Pratikshya Bhandari completed 126 credits at Lakeland toward a degree in international business while also completing the college's honors program. These credits translate into about 42 classes, and she excelled in each at the highest academic levels. She was listed in Who's Who of American College Students in 2009 and 2010. She was named the 2010 Outstanding Student in International Business and received the Outstanding International Student for Academic Achievement and Leadership award. In the words of one of my faculty colleagues, this student has been a superstar in the classroom.
In terms of campus engagement, Pratikshya has further distinguished herself. She was a four-year member of Global Student Association and Student Association. She served in leadership positions in both of these groups, including special events coordinator of GSA, an enormous responsibility. This role includes taking leadership for the planning of the college's very popular International Night. She even found time to perform a number of dances in this event.
Lastly, Pratikshya's commitment to the Lakeland community, and others, has been exemplary. She volunteered for Habitat for Humanity (where she made two spring break service trips), Lakeland College Service Group, Colleges against Cancer, Relay for Life and Make a Difference Day. As busy as her schedule has obviously been, she has also given a significant amount of her time to tutoring others in our Academic Resource Center.
Pratikshya describes her Lakeland experience in this way: "Being more than 3,000 miles away from home was hard at first. The realization that I could not go home for the weekend was difficult….I have always believed that people make up places and not the other way around. I got to know so many people at Lakeland in the past four years. Lakeland, for me, is full of familiar faces and people I have come to love." As for her advice to new graduates, she says, "We have the tools to succeed. We just have to remember that sometimes the best things in life come if we wait for them."