Influential Trailblazers honored at Utah Tech University Presidential Awards

Influential members of the Utah Tech University and Washington County communities were recently recognized at the university’s Presidential Awards banquet for blazing new trails and making a difference in Southern Utah.

Utah Tech gave the category of Community Engaged Awards to individuals committed to service learning, community engagement and campus-community partnerships to promote civic responsibility, service, collaboration and flexibility.

The American Association of University Women – St. George Branch, led by Executive Committee members Pat Dalpiaz, Sandy Ghio and Mikki Madden, received the Committed Community Partner Award. AAUW advances equity for women and girls in Utah through advocacy and education and provides college scholarships as well as a STEM camp for seventh grade girls.

Dr. Jennifer Harrington received the Community Engaged Scholar Award. Harrington, who oversees UT’s Certified Nursing Assistant program, has played an integral role in updating the state curriculum and state competency exams. Additionally, she has integrated aspects of her research on self-care into the core curriculum as a preventive measure against burn-out in the nursing profession.

Jessica Davis received the Community Engaged Staff Member Award. The director of STEM outreach at Utah Tech, Davis has created a number of STEM programs for local kindergarten-12th grade students and has been instrumental in inspiring creativity in youth and cultivating an environment where exploration and learning flourish.

Nicole Parkin received the Community Engaged Student Award. Parkin, the Utah Tech Student Association vice president of service, is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in communications, a minor in global studies and an emphasis in leadership this year. She hopes to work with nonprofits and continue to participate in community service wherever she goes.

Annie Simkins received the Community Engaged Alumnus Award. As a single mother of three, she has balanced raising her kids with a diverse career spanning retail, business, human resources and now business development/marketing as the director of the Southern Region at Hughes General Contractors.

Also as part of the Presidential Awards banquet, the Board of Trustees awarded Excellence in Service Awards to Dr. Michael Lacourse and Julie Stender.

Lacourse, Utah Tech’s provost and vice president of academic affairs, chaired the university’s 2020-25 Strategic Plan Committee, wrote a lot of the plan himself and has been instrumental in implementing the university’s model for a comprehensive polytechnic education.

Stender, who has served as the university’s registrar for almost 40 years and has expert knowledge on student admissions and state residency guidelines, has guided UT’s student registration efforts as the university’s enrollment has increased by more than a 100% since she started.

The Board of Trustees also honored Dr. Aaron Davis and Dr. Joseph Lovell with Excellence in Education Awards.

Davis, the associate dean for UT’s College of Science, Engineering & Technology, was recognized not only for his research on using molecular biology tools to understand the genetics involved in human traits, but also for his passion for biology education and dynamic interactions with students in all settings.

Lovell, an associate professor of recreation and sports management, was honored for teaching and researching sport and leisure behavior, strategic management, global engagement and experience design.

The final Trustee Award of the year, the Distinguished Citizen Award, was bestowed upon Wendi Bulkley, Carol Hollowell and Jon Pike.

Bulkley was recognized for the impact she has made on the community through her 21 years of serving Washington County in public administration, tourism, management, marketing, events, fundraising and community engagement roles at TDS, Washington City and Utah Tech University as well as for her volunteer service with the Washington Area Chamber of Commerce, St. George Area Chamber of Commerce Sunshiners and many community organizations.

Hollowell, the executive director of Switchpoint community resource center, has dedicated her career to serving those experiencing homelessness after encountering an individual on the streets in 2013. Since then, she has continued to adapt in order to meet the ever-changing needs of Utah’s most vulnerable, knowing that temporary shelters are not enough.

Linda Stay, Switchpoint’s development director, accepted the award, as Hollowell was receiving the 6th Annual Utah Community Builder Award from the nonprofit foundation of the Salt Lake Chamber the same evening.

Pike, the Utah insurance commissioner, has been a natural ambassador for the city, county and university as the mayor of the City of St. George from 2013 to 2021 and a member of the university’s Board of Trustees for many years.

Also at the banquet, an Honorary Doctorate, which will also be recognized at the university’s 113th Commencement Ceremony on May 3, was presented to Julie Bangerter Beck. She served for nine years as a member of UT’s Board of Trustees and then as a member of the Utah State Board of Higher Education. Additionally, a large portion of her life has been dedicated to service in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, where she was the 15th Relief Society General President.

The university also honored valedictorian Jared Smith, who will be the student speaker at Commencement and is graduating with a bachelor’s in nursing.

Additionally, Outgoing Student Body President Jose Toral Martinez, Faculty Senate President Julie Chew and Outgoing Staff Association President Stacy Schmidt were thanked and recognized.