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Kevin D. Knight Award winners honored

May 6, 2019

More than 50 student leaders were recognized for their contributions to NIU and the community during the Kevin D. Knight Leadership Awards ceremony held April 28 at the Holmes Student Center. The annual awards commemorate the life of Kevin D. Knight, an NIU alumnus who embodied what it means to be a student leader.

Knight was an exemplary leader, serving NIU as a catalyst for positive change and as a role model for up-and-coming student leaders to follow. He used his time at NIU well, dedicating himself to the betterment of campus life for all students and serving as a leader in a number of student organizations.

In honor of Knight, Student Involvement and Leadership Development (SILD) presents these awards to students who maintain academic excellence while holding leadership positions at NIU and volunteering in the community. Each year a senior is selected from among the senior award winners.

Mitchell Huftalin

Mitchell Huftalin, of Winnebago, was named the 2019 Kevin D. Knight Leadership Award recipient.

“Receiving the Kevin D. Knight Leadership Award is a great honor and I am truly grateful,” Huftalin said. “Since my first semester at NIU I have thrown myself into organizations and leadership roles to help better the community.”

Huftalin was an NIU orientation leader, Northern Ambassador and community advisor in the residence halls. He has worked for the First- and Second-Year Experience Office, volunteered at the Huskie Food Pantry and was a member of the Mortar Board Honor Society, but he still remembers arriving at NIU and trying to find his place.

“I can remember feeling helpless in my residence hall room my first semester thinking what am I going to do,” Huftalin said.

It wasn’t until Huftalin stepped out of his comfort zone and asked for help did he find his place at NIU.

“Joining my first organization and getting my first job at NIU helped open doors and create relationships that I will hold dear to my heart for the rest of my life,” Huftalin said. “No matter where I go in life, I know I will find my place like I did at NIU.”

Huftalin encourages fellow Huskies to get involved, whether that means joining a social organization or getting involved within your field of study.

“The pen is in your hand and your experiences are what you make of them,” Huftalin said. “Feeling connected to the community around you provides a support like no other. NIU has so much to offer; you just need to take a look around.”

Huftalin will be pursuing a master’s degree in higher education and student affairs at NIU and working in the First- and Second-Year Experience Office at NIU as a graduate assistant.

Congratulations to Huftalin and each 2019 Kevin D. Knight award winner.

Freshman Award
Angel Reyes
Hannah Schaumberg

Sophomore Award
Cameron Clark
Emma Boicken
Cassandra Kamp
Thomas O’Leary
Brooklyn Fashinbauer
Sarah Thomas

Junior Award
Edgar Lopez Chacon
Lily Michaels
Nancy Hernandez
Brandon Antonio
Ian Pearson

Senior Award
Lianne   Abbellar
Adriana Aguilera Perez
Essence Coleman
Jessica   Gall
Ashley  Grazutiz
Isis Hernandez
Mitchell Huftalin
Diana Jarocki
Nicole Pacewic
Rosa Perez
Sandra Puebla
Rebekah Salazar
Ria Sangsomwong
Rachel Turffs

Graduate Award
Craig Peaslee
Amanda Santucci
Laura Kruczinski

Institutional Tuition Waiver Award
Adriana Aguilera Perez
Ainsley Galvez
Emma Boicken
Ian Pearson
Itsel Torres Ramierez
Lily Michaels
Magda Nicholas Estrada
Nancy Hernandez
Nicholas Newman
Nicole Pacewic
Stephanie Salazar
Yilshalonte Tolefree

Applauding Excellence Award
Marissa Dawson
Krissie Haddon
Vishal Rajendra Kashid
Varinia Luque Placencia

Women’s Volunteerism Award

Rachel Gathman

Steven R. Agee II Award

Antonio Johnson

Outstanding Student Organization Award

Outstanding Student Organization Advisor Award
Sandy Lopez

Graduate Leadership Award

Ashley Grazutis

Keyhana Evans

Georgi Beck