Seventh annual Image Awards
Honoring outstanding members of the Black community
The Black Student Alliance, Black Leadership Institute and the University chapter of the NAACP hosted the seventh annual Image Awards last Thursday, highlighting 10 extraordinary members of the University community for their passion and service in advancement of the black community.
Modeled after the NAACP’s annual award ceremony, this year’s event was themed, “Leaders as Servants: Guiding the Next Generation.”
A capella group Remix opened the event with a rendition of the Black National Anthem. Prayers and a formal dinner followed.
University Rector George Martin gave uplifting and serious opening remarks, emphasizing the importance of effective leadership.
“[I] definitely liked the way he presented servants as leaders and [gave] examples that are actually from U.Va., not just Nelson Mandela and people throughout the world,” said third-year College student Saron Fantahun, who attended the event.
Awards included honors for an outstanding first-year student, outstanding mentor, and “unsung hero,” among others. Each recipient was presented with an engraved plaque.
“We had a really great turn out and I think a lot of people [learned] from Rector Martin’s speech and the accomplishments of the people awarded,” third-year College student Chelsea Stokes said. “The work that these students do [is] very highly visible, so I think a lot of people agreed and definitely felt that [the awards were deserved].”
The unsung hero award was presented to dining hall employee Kathy McGruder, known affectionately by many students as “Miss Kathy.” She received a standing ovation as her award was presented.
Honorees were nominated by students and reviewed by the event planning committee. This year, the committee received between 40 and 50 nominations — double the amount of nominations from last year.
“Instead of cut and dry criteria, there [are many] different conversations about the different students,” said committee member Martese Johnson, a second-year College student. “Since the black community is so small, it gives us the opportunity to know most of the students that have been nominated.”
When confronted with two people with equally strong leadership qualifications, the committee bases its decision on how the nominees have impacted the University community, Johnson said.
“It gives you a chance to realize how much each student in the black community does for the University,” he said. “When you’re sitting and reading through dozens of nominations, you get a feel for the amount of student leaders that are in the black community. … We emphasize the importance of the Image Awards because without [them], we might never recognize these students.”