York University celebrates with annual year-end banquet

York University held its annual All-School Banquet this past week at the Holthus Convention Center in York.

The student body gathered with faculty and staff for a night of reflection, recognition, great food and fellowship.

Dr. Jared Pack welcomed everyone to the festivities and gave the blessing before everyone enjoyed a great spread hosted by JW’s Catering. The menu for the evening included roast beef, chicken-fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, loaded mashed potatoes, tossed salad and dinner rolls. For dessert, a cheesecake bar was provided allowing attendees to top their cheesecake with various toppings of their choice.

Coach Bailey Davis, representing the athletic department, kicked off the awards and recognition portion of the evening by presenting the Student-Athletes of the Year to Ian Heck and Candice Jones. This award is presented to one male and one female athlete for their academic achievement as well as their leadership and service roles on their athletic teams.

Madison Gookin, Greek life sponsor, presented the People’s Choice Award trophy to social clubs Theta Psi and Sigma Tau, an award they won at Songfest earlier this month. Beta Beta Sigma and Alpha Chi Epsilon dominated the rest of the social club awards, winning the Men’s and Women’s All-Sports Trophy, Academic Excellence Award, Service Award and the Big Heart Award.

Recognized for their years of service to York University were: Mallory Smith, Dr. Bryan Kretz, (five years); Denise Sheldon (10 years); Laurie Briggs, Justin Carver (2023), Nick DiToro, Dr. Steve Eckman and Rose Miller (15 years); Trent Hinton and Brian Walth (20 years); and Bobby DeHart and Chad Karcher (25 years).

Jared Stark, vice president for advancement, presented the 2024 David and Nellie Reppart Service Award. Formerly known as the Second Miler Award, the recognition honors those who go above and beyond in their ministry at YU. This year, two recipients were awarded for their outstanding service to York University. Laurie Briggs was honored for her incredible work in financial aid and work study employment office, patiently working with both students and parents all year-round. This year, Briggs also wonderfully handled extra work with changes to the FAFSA process and implementing a new financial aid system. Brenda Sikes was also honored for her outstanding work as the Title III director. Sikes reimagined the library into the academic resource center, her vision and dedication leading to a dramatic improvement in the university’s academic atmosphere.

Andrew Bond, president of Student Government Association, presented the faculty and staff of the year recipients on behalf of SGA. Jeff Hill, assistant professor of psychology, was voted by students as the 2024 Faculty Member of the Year. Hill is in his third year at York University. Staff Member of the Year went to Deb Cleveland, who is in her second year as the coordinator of the academic mentoring program and Thomas Hall resident director.

At the conclusion of the award ceremony, Mr. and Ms. York University candidates were recognized by Stephen Cooper, director of student life and housing. Faculty and staff make the selection for this award from among graduating seniors. Candidates embody a commitment to the mission, purpose and core values of York University. They must be well-rounded individuals who pursue spiritual integrity and academic excellence while making contributions to the campus and community, forming healthy personal relationships and living godly lives.

Anthony Hodson, a sports management major from Fresno, Calif., was announced as Mr. York University for 2024. He is a member of the track and field and cross-country teams as well as Better Together and Campus Ministries. He was also a senior representative in the 2023 Homecoming Court.

Reflecting on his experience, Hodson said, “I have found Christ. This has allowed me to transform my life in all ways. It has given me a foundation and has shaped the man that I have become and will continue to grow into. I know God had a plan for bringing me to York University. I don’t know where I would be without this amazing place.”

Hodson plans to continue his education at YU in the fall to complete his master’s of arts, emphasizing in organizational and global leadership, and utilize his eligibility to compete in cross-country and track.

Maryn Phillips, a vocal performance and education major from Topeka, Kan., was chosen as Ms. York University for 2024. She is an active member of the University Singers, being a section leader, student conductor and featured soloist while a part of the group. Phillips has been on the Dean’s List for eight semesters and is a member of the Alpha Chi Honor Society. She is also a member of Beta Beta Sigma, Celebrations Singers, Residence Life and was a hostess in Songfest.

Reflecting on her time at York, Phillips said, “My time here at York University has helped me grow so much as a person. York has given me opportunities to step out of my comfort zone, try new things, and build relationships with friends and faculty. I have grown and developed a faith of my own and deepened my relationship with God. York has shown me the importance of sharing my faith and the love of Jesus with others. York has allowed me to grow as a musician and music educator, and I am excited to share and create music with future students! I have learned the importance of dedication and hard work and that we are never truly done learning. I will forever cherish my four years here and am thankful for the love and genuine kindness that has been shown to me by friends, professors and faculty.”

She will graduate this spring with her vocal performance degree, and will student-teach this coming fall for her music education degree. After student teaching, she plans to teach vocal music and hopes to give private voice lessons to future students.

The formal part of the evening was concluded with closing remarks given by Bryce Winkler, director of student activities, and the singing of the alma mater led by Sean Algaier, campus minister.


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