Viking Pilots propel the university forward

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I dedicate my column today to the 2017 VCSU Viking Pilots: seniors Jordan Bushaw (software engineering), Jaycee George (health science), Morgan Nalley (communication/marketing), Steven Velarde (business administration/management), and Joe Wright ’17 (communication), and juniors Niklas Ernst (social science), Paige Fettig (elementary education), Kathleen Gallais (athletic training), Steph McCann (history education/psychology), Paige Meyer (elementary education), Oscar Suniga (business administration/marketing), and Katelyn Willer (mathematics education).According to VCSU student Jarin Blumhagen, chair of the Viking Pilot Selection Committee, the staff of “The Blizzard” yearbook founded the Viking Pilot Award in 1931. The purpose of the award was to honor those individuals engaged in a multitude of campus activities and acclaimed for their participation in college life. At the time, the recipients were known as the “propellers.”I really like the name “propeller,” for certainly these select group of students have propelled our campus forward through their unselfish service and leadership. And, of course, the newer Viking Pilot name is equally apropos as it better captures our brand while also honoring the concept of direction-setting. No matter what you call these students, they are indeed the epitome of VCSU Difference Makers! Here are some of the ways their roles are described:• Always setting an example for VCSU• Never hesitant to offer help to those in need• Someone who through their campus engagement has made others smile and laugh• A student who does everything possible to make VCSU a great place for students to live and learn• A person who ensures that VCSU is a welcoming and positive place to be• Responsible, caring leaders who have left campus in better shape than when they arrived freshman year Collectively, these students have indeed left their footprint here and positively shaped the student experience. They have served as student employees and members and leaders of honor societies and academic organizations. They participated in the shared governance of the university through Student Senate. They have served as peer mentors, tutors, and residence assistants. Some are student athletes, and one is an NAIA Champion of Character. They sing in choirs and play instruments in various music ensembles. Some played in pep band, and another served as the Viking mascot. They are Viking Ambassadors and New Student Orientation Leaders, and they plan student events through the Viking Campus Activities Board. Recipients of numerous scholarships, they have participated in undergraduate research and internships. They are from North Dakota as well as other states and even other countries. They have created moments of celebration and joy, and offered a hand to those in need. They are indeed VCSU Difference Makers.From the bottom of my heart, I thank and celebrate these student leaders, those who came before them, and those who will follow—for they are truly the reason why it is a great day to be a Viking!