Student Life Awards

Banner for the Excellence in Student Life Awards

 

The George Washington University emphasizes a dynamic, student-focused community stimulated by cultural and intellectual diversity and built upon a foundation of integrity, creativity, and openness to the exploration of new ideas. Our mission also compels the GW community to apply its talent and knowledge to improve the quality of life in metropolitan Washington, D.C.

The annual Excellence in Student Life Awards is GW’s largest celebration of student life and a beloved campus tradition, honoring the individuals and groups that work tirelessly to enhance student life on campus and work alongside our surrounding community. 


"Being recognized is something that we should do for each other every day. It doesn't have to be big, it doesn't have to be only if you're a senior, I think that every single small act of kindness should be recognized. Just being here and celebrating everyone's success at GW has really made my heart warm, and has made my last days at GW really fulfilling."

Ashley Le
Winner, Baer Award for Individual Excellence
Class of 2019

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The Awards

Ranging in nature, each of the awards in the Excellence in Student Life Awards program honors an individual or group that exemplifies GW’s values and institutional mission. Learn more about the awards below!

Individual Awards

Baer Award for Individual Excellence in the GW Community

Awarded to graduate or undergraduate student(s) with a minimum 3.0 GPA who have enhanced student life and demonstrated themselves as a positive member of the GW community.

The Baer Award for Individual Excellence in the GW community is a prestigious award developed in honor and memory of David A. Baer, a member of the class of 1910, for his involvement in and support for the University’s extra-curricular program. This award will honor those students who have demonstrated integrity and commitment in their overall conduct as members of the campus community. Recipients of the Baer Award have taken it upon themselves to make our community stronger and pledged to enhance student life through a variety of involvements. Additionally, these individuals exhibit competent scholarship (a minimum of a 3.0 GPA) in pursuit of their academic objectives. Candidates may be self-nominated or nominated by a peer, faculty or staff member. 

Class of 2005 9/11 Memorial Scholarship for Public Service

Awarded to a rising senior with demonstrated commitment to community and public service. Preference is given to first responders or military members.

The Class of 2005 9/11 Memorial Scholarship for Public Service will be awarded to one rising senior each spring to be applied to the cost of tuition in $2,500 in their senior year. Those seeking this scholarship should have a demonstrated commitment to serving the public good and helping others in their time of need. It is the desire of the Class of 2005 (but not a prerequisite) to give preference to candidates that have volunteered or worked as first responders, or have participated in some form of military service. All candidates must have two full, remaining semesters as full time students. Candidates may be self-nominated or nominated by a peer, faculty or staff member. 

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Award

Awarded to GW community members who exemplify the values of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. through leadership, scholarship, advocacy, and service.

The GW Multicultural Student Services Center honors the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by recognizing exceptional GW community leaders within the student, staff, and faculty community who exemplify the values embodied in Dr. King’s legacy. Scholarship, service, servant leadership, peace, non-violence, social justice, inclusion, integrity, and spiritual growth grounded by a strong ethical foundation are the principles most commonly exhibited by successful candidates.


The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Awards are among the most prestigious recognitions of excellence the university offers. The committee seeks candidates whose contribution to the student experience reflects the values we attribute to King and do so with passion, leadership, care, integrity, empathy, loyalty, and a heart for others

Graduate Award for Individual Excellence

Awarded to a graduate student who has strengthened the graduate student community through scholarship, work, involvement, or advocacy on campus or in the Washington, D.C. community.

The Graduate Award for Individual Excellence recognizes those students who embody the mission of the University and have contributed to the enhancement of the GW graduate student experience. This award recognizes graduate students who made outstanding contributions to the University community and beyond. Additionally, recipients of the Graduate Award for Individual Excellence have shown efforts to make the graduate student community stronger and more engaged in the GW and D.C. community, demonstrating an ability to lead and motivate their peers. Recipients exhibit competent scholarship with a minimum GPA of 3.0. This award is only open to graduate students. Candidates may be self-nominated or nominated by a peer, faculty, or staff member.

Manatt-Trachtenberg Prize for Transformative Social and Intellectual Conscious

Awarded to a graduating senior who significantly challenged the social and intellectual conscience of the University while demonstrating leadership, integrity, and goodwill.

The Manatt-Trachtenberg Prize was established in 2004 by Ambassador Charles Manatt, Emeritus Trustee of the University and Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, President of GW from 1988 to 2007, to honor the graduating senior who most significantly challenged the social and intellectual conscience of The George Washington University while displaying leadership, competence, integrity, and goodwill in carrying out University responsibilities.  The prize will include a modest cash award. Candidates may be self-nominated or nominated by a peer, faculty or staff member. 

Marc A. Zambetti Award for Intramural Excellence

Awarded to a graduating senior who has demonstrated commitment to intramural excellence. 

This award, created in the memory of Marc A. Zambetti (Class of 1985), is presented each year to the graduating senior participant in the Campus Recreation program who exemplifies athleticism, leadership, enthusiasm & sportsmanship while participating in Intramural Sports. The winner of this award receives a $750 monetary prize. 

Mount Vernon Award

Awarded to a current or former resident of the Mount Vernon Campus who has demonstrated a commitment to the spirit and legacy of the Mount Vernon Campus community while maintaining a high level of academic achievement.

The awardee has proven to be a supportive, contributing member of the Mount Vernon Campus community through continued dedication and involvement to the Mount Vernon Campus.

Outstanding Service Award (Individual)

Awarded to an undergraduate or graduate student who has demonstrated exceptional
commitment to supporting the needs of the community beyond GW through service.

Recipients of the Outstanding Service Award will have exhibited exceptional commitment to
supporting the needs and interests of the community beyond GW locally, nationally, and/or
globally through direct community service. In addition, the recipient will have shared
his/her/their passion with the GW campus community. To be eligible the individual should be a
currently undergraduate or graduate student at GW during the 2023-2024 academic year and in
good standing with the University (no academic or disciplinary probation). Candidates may be
self-nominated or nominated by a peer, faculty, or staff member. Only those who are recorded
their impact in GWServes (GivePulse) will be eligible.

Student Organization Member of the Year Award

Awarded to a student organization member who has made a meaningful and lasting impact on their organization and have a demonstrated affinity for the GW community.

Student organizations depend on their members to help define the missions of their groups, build plans to achieve their goals, and provide encouragement and motivation to members while also managing expectations and providing important oversight. From presidents and treasurers, to vice-presidents and general body members, all officers can have an incredible impact on their organization. Nominations should clearly outline how the member being nominated had a direct impact on their student organization that is meaningful and lasting. Nominees should also have a strong affinity to their organization and the George Washington University in general. Finally, nominees should have proven leadership skills and qualities. Candidates may be self-nominated or nominated by a peer, faculty or staff member. 

The George Washington Award

Recognizes students, faculty, and staff who have displayed competence, integrity, and goodwill in carrying out their university responsibilities and goes above and beyond to create broad and lasting impact

The George Washington Award highlights students, faculty, and staff who have made exceptional contributions that have advanced the university to: develop students' abilities to the fullest, provide for superior instruction and facilities, provide for a balanced program of student extracurricular activities, or to utilize its historical, geographical and functional relationship to the nation's capital. Candidates may be self-nominated or nominated by a peer, faculty or staff member. Nominations require two letters of recommendation (written by someone other than the individual filling out the form) to be uploaded upon submission.

Group Awards

Excellence in Diversity Award

Awarded to one student organization that has demonstrated a commitment to diversity and inclusion through programming and membership.

The Excellence in Diversity Award is offered to a student organization that has demonstrated a commitment to diversity and inclusion through the following: diversity-focused programming, inclusive student organization partnerships, and inclusive organizational membership.  The Excellence in Diversity Award winner demonstrates a significant commitment to diversity and inclusive excellence throughout the academic year, and can reflect accomplishments on campus or in the Washington metropolitan area.

Hippo for Hope Award

Awarded to a registered student organization that has demonstrated humility in the leadership of initiatives designed to improve the GW campus community or beyond.

Recipients of the Hippo for Hope Award will have exhibited a commitment to improving their community through programming, advocacy, and/or service. Student organizations that receive this award are recognized for leading with humility — uplifting and promoting the work and efforts of others; empowering, inspiring and motivating others; showing respect, and demonstrating an ability to innovate and make meaningful impacts on the GW campus community and/or beyond. The organization selected for this award receives $500.

The Hippo for Hope award is an endowed award made possible by the Order of the Hippo.

Learning Through Action Award

Recognizes student organizations or university programs or initiatives that excel in the use of experiential education as a process to make a positive impact on the GW community and student experience.

The Learning Through Action Award recognizes registered student organizations and/or university programs that excel in the use of experiential education in their co-curricular events and/or organizations.  Experiential education is defined as a process through which a learner gains knowledge, skill, and value from direct experience and reflection.  Great nominations will illustrate the application of experiential learning to a specific event or program. Further, the nomination will highlight how this experience has made a measurable, positive impact on the GW community and student experience. Awarded to one student organization or university program.

Outstanding Service Award (Group)

Awarded to a student organization, academic residential community, service-learning course,
athletic team, or other recognized group that has demonstrated a significant commitment to
supporting the needs of our community beyond GW through service.

Recipients of the Outstanding Service Award will have exhibited an exceptional commitment to
supporting the needs and interests of the community beyond GW locally, nationally, and/or
globally through direct community service. In addition, the recipient group will have shared its
passion with the GW campus community. To be eligible the group must be a registered student
organization, an academic residential community, a service-learning course, athletic team,
and/or other recognized group during the 2022-23 academic year and in good standing with the
University. Only those who have recorded their impact in GWServes (GivePulse) will be eligible.

Pyramid Award for Student Organization of the Year

Awarded to a student organization that has made significant contributions to GW student life through programming, initiatives, or advocacy.

The Pyramid Award for Student Organization of the Year was named in recognition of the Pyramid Honor Society, which was created in the early 1900s to form a group of students who represented the University through their activities and interests. This award honors registered student organizations and their distinguished level of contribution to the GW community through planned events and programs, both on and off-campus.  Student organizations that receive this award are distinguished by their exceptional success in motivating and organizing fellow students to enhance campus life, and by their collaborative efforts with other organizations or departments to achieve objectives to improve student life. Up to 3 winners are selected annually, and perks include priority table space at any in-person Org Fair event hosted by Student Life, a spotlight in The Newsletter, social media promotion, and more! Please note that social fraternities and sororities are not eligible for this award. 

Faculty & Staff Awards

Robert Chernak Award for Staff Member of the Year

Awarded to a staff member who has significantly impacted and inspired a student or student organization.

The Robert A. Chernak Spark a Life Award for Staff Member of the Year will be granted to one staff member who has significantly impacted the holistic development of a student and/or registered student organization, thus causing a “spark” of inspiration. Individuals eligible for this award are staff members who have formed a positive mentoring relationship which has measurably impacted the development of the student and/or registered student organization and the contributions they make to the GW and/or Washington, D.C. communities. Candidates may be nominated by a student, faculty or staff member. 

Honey Nashman Spark a Life Award for Faculty Member of the Year

Awarded to a faculty member who has significantly impacted and inspired a student or student organization.

The Honey Nashman Spark A Life Award for Faculty Member of the Year will be granted to one faculty member who has significantly impacted the holistic development of a student or registered student organization, thus causing a “spark” of inspiration. Individuals eligible for this award are faculty members who have formed a positive mentoring relationship which has measurably impacted the development of the student or registered student organization and the contributions they make to the GW and/or Washington, D.C. communities. A great nomination includes a faculty member who has played a vital role in the success of a student or  a student organization. For example, they may have helped and supported a student or a student organization through crisis, or helped facilitate change within an organization that strengthened the organization, or they helped an organization reach a benchmark of success or achieve a sought-after goal. Candidates may be nominated by a student, faculty or staff member. 

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Award

Awarded to GW community members who exemplify the values of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. through leadership, scholarship, advocacy, and service.

The GW Multicultural Student Services Center honors the memory of the Rev.  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by recognizing exceptional GW community leaders within the student, staff, and faculty community who exemplify the values embodied in Dr. King’s legacy. Scholarship, service, servant leadership, peace, non-violence, social justice, inclusion, integrity, and spiritual growth grounded by a strong ethical foundation are the principles most commonly exhibited by successful candidates.

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Awards are among the most prestigious recognitions of excellence the university offers. The committee seeks candidates whose contribution to the student experience reflects the values we attribute to King and do so with passion, leadership, care, integrity, empathy, loyalty, and a heart for others.

The George Washington Award

Recognizes students, faculty, and staff who have displayed competence, integrity, and goodwill in carrying out their university responsibilities and goes above and beyond to create broad and lasting impact

The George Washington Award highlights students, faculty, and staff who have made exceptional contributions that have advanced the university to: develop students' abilities to the fullest, provide for superior instruction and facilities, provide for a balanced program of student extracurricular activities, or to utilize its historical, geographical and functional relationship to the nation's capital.  Candidates may be self-nominated or nominated by a peer, faculty or staff member. Nominations require two letters of recommendation (written by someone other than the individual filling out the form) to be uploaded upon submission. 

The nomination period for the 2024 Excellence in Student Life Awards will begin on February 1st. The final day to nominate will be on March 1st. 


Selection Committee

Students, staff, alumni, and faculty volunteers have the opportunity to engage in a special opportunity and serve on the Excellence Awards Selection Committee. Diverse perspectives from across our campus community are very important to us as we work to select the most deserving award recipients. We would value your insight during the process and hope you will join us as a member of the selection committee. No past experience or knowledge required! There are two rounds of selection for the Excellence Awards.

Round 1 Selection Committee (20-30 members)

  • Reading and scoring a number of nominations will take place from March 5th-12th.
  • Based on previous years, we anticipate that each committee member will read approximately 15-20 nominations.  
  • Round 1 scores will determine which nominees proceed to Round 2 for additional review. 
  • Time commitment is approximately 3-5 hours.

Round 2 Selection Committee (15-20 members)

  • Reading and scoring a number of nominations will take place from March 15th-20th.
  • Based on previous years, we anticipate that each committee member will read approximately 10-15 nominations.
  • Round 2 Committee Members are also expected to attend a virtual 30 minute selection meeting during which finalists will be discussed and award recipients selected. This meeting will take place at the end of March. 
  • Time commitment is approximately 4-5 hours.

Day of Excellence 

A celebration of the entire GW campus community!

As a complement to the Excellence in Student Life Awards, we host Day of Excellence, a community-wide celebration of appreciation and acclamation. Day of Excellence 2024 will take place on April 10th during Buff and Bloom week.

 

Student with a stuffed hippo on their shoulder at Kogan Plaza
 
 
Trustees gate looking into a decorated Kogan plaza covered in blue, gold, and white balloons for Day of Excellence
 
 
Picture of students at a tropical styled table decorating cookies including a blue and white GW cookie
 
 

Excellence Awards Archives

We're so proud of the achievements and contributions of our past winners, and are working on adding updated lists of past winners to our website.

Browse the Award Archives