OSU celebrates Lead Orange Award winners
Monday, May 4, 2020
Each year, OSU’s Center for Ethical Leadership recognizes leaders who are making a difference with Lead Orange Awards. This year’s overall Lead Orange Award winners are student Susanna Lemasters and staff member Dr. Clyde Wilson. Both went above and beyond to advance positive social change.
OSU President Burns Hargis congratulated this year’s winners by video, noting that social distancing can’t stop the Cowboy family from recognizing their inspiring leadership.
“While the pandemic keeps us apart, it doesn’t prevent us from recognizing members of the Cowboy family who have made a major impact in their communities through their remarkable leadership,” he said. “They have shown they lead orange. Our award winners are students, faculty and staff who identified a need and worked to make a positive change through great leadership.
“Leadership requires an unwavering commitment, collaboration and the wisdom to listen to diverse ideas and perspectives. This year’s winners address serious challenging issues in our community, such as hunger and sexual assault and they work for social justice and equality. I’m inspired by the leadership I see across campus from students, faculty and staff. I truly believe that America’s brightest leaders lead orange.”
Lemasters, a journalism student now entering her senior year, is recognized for her work as vice president of the 1is2many Student Advisory Board.
She is passionate about sexual violence prevention and has put in countless hours to develop and implement programming to bolster prevention education.
Though assured of the importance of her mission, she wasn’t sure anyone noticed her efforts.
“I thought what I was doing was invisible,” she said. “I did not know that people were really watching what I was doing or that they were proud of me … When I found out I was nominated, I was shocked. Then, when I found out I won, my mind was blown. I feel so happy, not just for myself, but to win it for this reason.”
Lemasters said the award was a big lift after a difficult year wherein she lost her father. As she enters her senior year, one fraught with uncertainties surrounding COVID-19, Lemasters is sure of at least one thing: her work isn’t done. During the 2021 school year she will take up the role of executive director of It’s on Us, an initiative aimed at combatting sexual assault through education, while staying involved with 1is2many.
The national conversation surrounding sexual violence continues to evolve, and Lemasters said she sees progress. Still, she said there is much work to be done, and that starts at the community level.
“It’s important to have the broad conversations, but it’s crucial to have small conversations because small changes turn into big changes,” she said. “I care about changing the stigma, I care about women being able to walk down the strip without feeling like someone’s going to grab them, because that shouldn’t happen in Stillwater, Oklahoma. And I already see things changing. It’s already happening and I know that to be true because I see alumni and I hear them say things like ‘Wow. There’s a sexual assault prevention movement on OSU’s campus? That’s incredible. I wish that was there whenever I was in college.’ I see that and that’s why it’s important.”
Like Lemasters, who found out about her award through her mother on Facebook, Clyde Wilson found out second-hand. He didn’t even know he was nominated when a fellow student winner congratulated him on the award.
Wilson is recognized for his work as the TRIO McNair Scholars director for the Division of Institutional Diversity and his work as president of the Oklahoma Division for Student Assistance.
The McNair Scholars Program focuses on supporting first generation low-income undergraduate students in their pursuit of a doctoral level degree. Wilson’s commitment to exceptional student service and bold leadership have been instrumental to the program’s ongoing success.
"Dr. Wilson has made a tremendous impact at OSU, as well as in the Stillwater community," said Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer Dr. Jason F. Kirksey. "The fact that he has only been here a couple years is impressive, but more importantly it epitomizes the quality of leadership he brings. Dr. Wilson’s efforts to establish broader and deeper collaborative opportunities within the OSU undergraduate research experience has unquestionably transformed not only the quantity, but more importantly the quality of opportunities for students, especially our McNair Scholars."
Wilson said it was an amazing feeling to know that his efforts are valued by the OSU community. He came to Stillwater two years ago hoping to make lasting and meaningful connections with students, to see underrepresented, low-income and first-generation students propelled toward a bright future.
“I never really approached the work I do from the standpoint of seeking recognition,” he said. “For me, that recognition was always rooted in things like seeing one of my students get accepted into grad school or getting this research opportunity or seeing a student believe in themselves when they didn’t before. I’ve been riding off of that, but to see this award … it’s awesome.”
Center for Ethical Leadership Assistant Director Josh Taylor said the Lead Orange Awards are a way for OSU to celebrate the incredible leadership we see across campus.
“Students, faculty, and staff dedicate themselves to leading for the common good and creating better environments for others,” he said. “This type of leadership is collaborative, selfless, and creates a better world for all of us.
“I am inspired by the leadership I see around me in our students, faculty and staff. I truly believe that America’s brightest leaders, Lead Orange!”
In addition to the overall Lead Orange Award winners, this year’s category winners are:
Armando Perez — Consciousness of Self in Leadership Award
Heath Moorman — Congruence in Leadership Award
Rachel Brown — Commitment in Leadership Award
Kyler Johnson — Collaboration in Leadership Award
Dr. Udaya DeSilva — Common Purpose in Leadership Award
Marcia Sun — Citizenship in Leadership Award
Breland Steward, Caylynn White-Frierson, Jada Lusk, Lauryn Thomas & Ramon Dickens — Controversy with Courage in Leadership Award
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