By Noah Manskar
Junior Nola Johnson is the latest addition to the group of Ohio Wesleyan students who can say they are OWU.
Johnson is October’s winner of the monthly “You Are OWU” award given by the Office of Student Involvement.
Johnson won for her contributions to SlutWalk, a program she put on as a member of the Women’s House and president of Sisters United.
Johnson said she was “very surprised” she won, and that she thinks SlutWalk was a collaborative effort.
“I really don’t like taking credit for the things I do,” Johnson said. “I didn’t want to be the sole winner of this award, when so many people helped put on this project. In my mind we’re all equal collaborators and help one another reach our goal.
“Nothing can be accomplished with a lone person’s efforts.”
Junior Cali Cornacchia, student assistant for the Office of Student Involvement, said most winners of “You Are OWU” are groups or “leaders on behalf of a group,” like Johnson. She said potential winners are nominated by their peers to SIO; about 10 nominations is the monthly average.
Cornacchia said she and Nancy Bihl Rutkowski, assistant director of Student Involvement for leadership, decide the winners each month. She said they consider students who go above and beyond in their contributions to the campus community that month.
According to Cornacchia, winners usually have a positive reaction to the award.
“I think they’re happy and they feel honored because they’re getting recognized for something they put work into,” Cornacchia said.
Cornacchia said all nominees are notified of their nomination, and that those who don’t win are still appreciative.
“Even though they might not have won, they realize that someone recognized them for something that they did, which is pretty great,” she said.
Senior Leah Shaeffer, who won “You Are OWU” for her work as director of “8: The Play,” said she appreciated being recognized with the award because she put a lot of work into the production.
“[I]t was something we faced a lot of struggles in producing, and by some I mean many,” Shaeffer said. “As much as I make fun of ‘being OWU,’ I love it.”
Cornacchia said winners receive a “Bishop beanie” doll, a certificate, a picture on display in Hamilton-Williams Campus Center and their names on a plaque with past “You Are OWU” recipients. The winners are also recognized publicly at a ceremony in the Ham-Will atrium on the last Friday of each month.
Sophomore Ryan Haddad, producer of “8,” said the ceremony was a “nice kind of little reunion” for him, Shaeffer and the rest of the cast and crew.
“A lot of us see each other all the time anyway in the theatre department, but there are many of us who weren’t theatre majors as well,” Haddad said.
Johnson said her ceremony was special because she works in Student Involvement, and her coworkers were present.
“[I]t was so nice to see them excited for me and taking my pictures, and I fed off their energy and happiness,” Johnson said. “One of my supervisors even let me wear a crown later that day. It motivates me to continue to try and make an impact on this campus and in people’s lives, as well.”
Haddad said he thinks the award would carry more weight if the campus community were more aware of it.
“It was lovely and everything, but I don’t think that the award is widely enough known about,” Haddad said.