Eric-John Szczepaniak, a Group Social Studies and Secondary Education major in his third year at Grand Valley State University, has recently been recognized for significant contributions to civics by President Thomas Haas and Provost Maria Cimitile.
On February 8th at the first regular Board of Trustees meeting of the new year, President Haas recognized Szczepaniak and the Community Service Learning Center (CSLC) for being awarded this year’s highest award from the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA), the Gold Excellence Award for Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement. Szczepaniak has been a lead member of the GVSU Campus Democratic Engagement Coalition along with students Anna Szalay, Jane Johnston, Larenz Rivero, Cameron Jones, and Michael Tanis. Melissa Baker-Boosamra and Liz Collver, staff from the CSLC, round out the leadership team. This coalition has brought together campus and community leaders over the past year to promote civil discourse, voter registration, education, and turnout in advance of the 2018 midterm election. GVSU also received the Voter Friendly Campus designation, one of just three Michigan colleges and universities to do so.
It was announced on February 8th that Eric-John Szczepaniak has been selected to receive this year’s Provost’s Award for Outstanding Major in Group Social Studies. Szczepaniak has played an active role in his community since age 16 when he first joined the Board of Directors for Western Little League as the umpire director. He now serves on the Kenowa Hills school board, the Student Senate, and most recently the Michigan Center for Civic Education’s Board of Directors. The future educator is excited to have been honored for his extensive community service and academic achievements. He maintains a 3.76 cumulative GPA.
Szczepaniak strives to help individuals nourish a sense of ownership in their communities. His advocacy has helped advance the causes of lowered textbook costs, increasing LGBTQ+ protections and visibility, and cooperation between campus and external resources toward greater civic engagement.
Members of the Campus Democratic Engagement Coalition's leadership team were recognized at the Board of Trustees meeting on February 8th.
From L to R: Liz Collver, Cameron Jones, Eric-John Szczepaniak, Jane Johnston, Anna Szalay
Eric-John Szczepaniak serves as a trustee for the Kenowa Hills school board and the President of the Michigan Center for Civic Education.