SRU honors campus community members with annual Rising Stars awards


Rising Star graphic

Slippery Rock University students, faculty, staff and organizations were honored April 21 at the 2021 Rising Star awards ceremony, as 16 awards were recognized.

April 23, 2021

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. — Slippery Rock University's Office for Student Engagement and Leadership recently announced its 2020-21 Rising Star awards, sponsored by AVI Fresh, SRU's contract food vendor, and the Slippery Rock Student Government Association. The awards, announced during the Rising Star award ceremony, conducted virtually April 21, recognized students, faculty, staff and organizations for their impact on the campus community.

The Emerging Leader awards and Distinguished Leader awards were presented to students who influence positive change; inspire peers, faculty and professional staff; and effectively delegate, communicate and empower their organization's members. Recipients were recognized for their ability to balance academic life with leadership opportunities and stand out within their organizations.

The Emerging Leader award recipients are:

  • Madison Callahan, a junior homeland security major from Pulaski.
  • Kara Devers, a sophomore early childhood and special education major from Pittsburgh.
  • Aiden Donnelly, a sophomore marketing major from Concord, New Hampshire.

The Distinguished Leader award recipients are:

  • Aaron Marrie, a senior communication major from Sharpsville.
  • Amanda Reichert, a senior psychology major from Erie.
  • Bella Serapiglia, a senior marketing major from Clairton.

Adam Schauer, a senior communication major from Ridgway, won the Student Leader of the Year award, an award that recognizes student leaders for their outstanding contributions to campuswide, cocurricular programs and leadership and organizational ability in helping plan and present programs. Schauer, who is the general manager of WSRU-FM, helped the organization position itself to better serve the SRU community through guidance in remote broadcasting and organization restructuring.

Abby Genter, a student affairs in higher education graduate student from Allison Park, won the Outstanding Graduate Assistant award, a new award that recognizes a graduate student who went above and beyond the requirements of their graduate assistant position by providing consistent service and guidance to SRU students. Genter has worked in the Office for Student Engagement and Leadership over the past two years with the Emerging Leadership Experience and other various leadership initiatives, acting as a role model for participants.

Brittany Fleming, an assistant professor of strategic communication and media, won the Outstanding Student Organization Adviser award, which recognizes an adviser who went above and beyond the requirements of the adviser role, and provided consistent service and guidance to organization members. Fleming has advised two student media organizations, The Rocket and WSRU-TV, during the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring functionality of both groups by providing critical support while contributing to a productive and positive environment.

The SRSGA and the Office for Inclusive Excellence won the Outstanding Collaboration award, recognizing two or more student organizations that have worked together to create a successful campus event, program or initiative to foster a more innovative and creative atmosphere. These two campus entities came together to host the Defamation Experience, an event which was the first completely virtual advocacy and education event on diversity and inclusion, attracting more than 200 attendees.

The SRSGA also won the Outstanding Diversity Achievement award, recognizing one or more student organizations that have successfully implemented events, programs or initiatives that encourage a more diverse and inclusive environment, and promote a greater understanding of diversity, equity and inclusion or advancement of social justice. The SRSGA has made significant strides this year in creating and recognizing a social justice response plan, providing concrete steps that solidify the role the SRSGA takes in social justice.

The Recreational Therapy Club won the Educational Program of the Year award, recognizing an educationally focused event, program or initiative in the areas of academics, culture, wellness and leadership that encouraged students to engage in learning outside of the classroom. The club's program, "A Day in the Life: A CTRS Miniseries," gave students the opportunity to hear from Certified Recreational Therapists about job practices and changes due to COVID-19.

The Office for Student Engagement and Leadership also introduced three new awards related to operating during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Debate Society won the Outstanding Virtual Programming award, recognizing the student organization that embraced virtual programming during the COVID-19 pandemic and successfully executed virtual events, programs or initiatives for their organization and/or the SRU community. The Debate Society participated in virtual debate tournaments throughout the semester while also keeping audience members engaged through an ongoing chat where all members, coaches and alumni were able topost updates, ideas and ask questions.

The Green and White Society won the Outstanding Socially Distanced Programming award, recognizing a student organization that embraced mitigation efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic and successfully executed socially-distant events, programs or initiatives for their organization and the SRU community. The Green and White Society executive board met throughout the summer to investigate ways in which to keep its programming relevant and safe, while continuing its mission of creating a welcoming experience for alumni, friends and guests and sharing SRU history and traditions.

The Musical Theatre Society won the Innovation Through COVID award, recognizing the student organization that addressed COVID mitigation, while illustrating innovation and creativity in managing their organization, programs, events and initiatives. Musical Theatre Society has continued to provide opportunities for students to explore the world of musical theater while still creating entertainment opportunities for the community, despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lastly, the Esports Club won the Student Organization of the Year award, recognizing a student organization that has positively influenced SRU and the greater community through exceptional programming, leadership, campus involvement, goal attainment and the development of positive visions for the future. While in existence for less than four years, the Esports Club has made significant advances such as hosting the first-ever State System-wide esports tournament, while also bringing campus interaction to a whole new level during the peak of a worldwide pandemic for the sheer purpose of social interaction and community identity.

For more information about the Rising Star Awards, call 724.738.2092 or email

MEDIA CONTACT: Lesa Bressanelli | 724.738.2091 |