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Seven undergrads honored with Chancellor’s Award

April 29, 2015

UW-River Falls honored seven of its best and brightest undergraduates on Thursday, April 23, during the 2015 Chancellor’s Award For Students ceremony.

The students were presented the award, which recognizes student leadership, service and commitment, during a ceremony in the Riverview Ballroom in the University Center.

The Chancellor’s Award is the highest non-academic honor a student can receive at UWRF. Recipients include students who have started projects to raise awareness about mental illness, protested climate change and sustainability policies, overcome language-barriers, researched genetic mutations in specific canine breeds, organized relief for human trafficking victims, and represented UWRF on state and national stages.

For more information about the award, visit www.uwrf.edu/Awards/Students/Index.cfm or email beth.schommer@uwrf.edu or call 425-0662.

This year’s Chancellor’s Award for Students recipients are:

Lyndsay Hage – A double major in biology and psychology, Hage created the Dan’s Bandana Project to raise awareness of depression and mental illness in response to the suicide of UW-Eau Claire student Daniel Gerbec in 2012. Hage worked with Gerbec’s mother, UWRF biology Professor Betsy Gerbec, to develop the idea and to write a grant that led to its funding. She has been a research assistant in both the biology and psychology departments, served as president of Psi Chi Honor Society, and peer adviser to the Student Undergraduate Scholarly Activity and Creative Research Council. As a teaching intern for the psychology department’s freshman orientation program, faculty turned to Hage to keep it up and running when its faculty adviser, Hage’s supervisor, went on maternity leave. Hage is from River Falls.

Cheng-Yen Lee — Through outstanding dedication and hard work, Lee, of Taiwan, overcame the language barrier and will graduate in May with a degree in elementary education and a coaching minor. Lee didn’t let his struggles learning English stop him from becoming a prolific volunteer on campus and in the community. As a front desk supervisor for the recreation and sport facility event staff, he sold tickets at hockey games, officiated from the penalty box and even resurfaced the ice at the end of each period. Meanwhile, Lee worked as an assistant coach on the women’s basketball team, regularly volunteered to read to children at the River Falls Public Library and served on numerous student committees.

Daniel Saunders — This Hastings, Minnesota, native singlehandedly raised the level of awareness about climate change and its effects on the nation during his time at UWRF. Saunders, a senior biology major, organized clubs, compiled data, coordinated trips to other states and regularly penning editorials in the Student Voice in support of sustainability efforts on campus and beyond. In 2013, Saunders founded the Environmental Corps of Sustainability student organization. Since then, he’s organized climate petitions, rallies and trips to Washington, D.C. and New York City to protest for environmental causes. He has also led efforts to compile data on UWRF’s greenhouse gas emissions and reported them to the national Sustainability Tracking Assessment and Rating System.

Samuel Tauchen —Tauchen was nominated for his outstanding work as a spokesman for UWRF through the state and national FFA organizations. As national collegiate ambassador for the FFA, he delivered more than 60 hours of presentations to school classes, civic groups and collegiate organizations in River Falls and across the state. He also served as president of the Student Senate, was the Vice Nobel Ruler of Finance for Alpha Gamma Rho and tutored more than 50 students through the UWRF Academic Success Center. Tauchen, of Bonduel, Wisconsin, will graduate in May with a degree in agricultural education and a psychology minor.

Randall Joseph Pfeifer — Graduating this spring with a degree in business administration and computer science and information systems, Pfeifer, of Hammond, Wisconsin, served as the lead technical manager for production services at the University Center, where he supervised three managers and 17 students and designed a more efficient process for programming the building’s lighting system. Pfeifer also volunteered his time installing and maintaining the computer science and information systems department’s lab equipment, served on the Search and Screen Committee to hire a new production services coordinator, and he worked as a summer research assistant at the University of Minnesota Genetics Lab, where he helped discover a possible genetic mutation causing rare bladder stones in the Native American Indian dog.

Haley Klinker — As a UWRF service intern for Student Life, Klinker, of Rochester, Minnesota, channeled her own experiences as a new student and as a world-traveler to reach out to new and international students in creative and inclusive ways. She researched, planned and oversaw trips, never failing to find new ways to get students involved. Klinker, an international studies major and Spanish and psychology double minor, is also lauded for her dedication to social issues, particularly the issue of human trafficking. She has spent numerous hours learning about the problem, and recently organized a Destination Domestic service trip for students to travel to Detroit, Michigan, to help girls and young women experiencing exploitation, violence, teen pregnancy and homelessness through the Alternative for Girls organization.

Julie Vang — Vang, the daughter of Laotian refugees who fled to America during the Vietnam War, uses her Hmong language skills to connect with families for her undergraduate research, and to help the parents of Hmong students better understand their children’s lives at UWRF. Vang is a sociology and international studies double major with aspirations to attend graduate school. She has served as an orientation and transition leader, worked as a desk assistant in the University Center, was an Upward Bound resident assistant, led campus tours for the Admissions Office and has been a multicultural outreach intern. Vang, of Minneapolis, Minnesota, is also a McNair Scholar and the recipient of the Lawton Undergraduate Minority Retention Grant.