The Trailblazer Awards has been a traditional part of student life at Utah Tech University for decades, and recognizes the accomplishments of UT students, faculty, staff, community members and businesses who have been extraordinary in their commitment to Utah Tech students. As a formal event patterned after the Academy Awards, this annual ceremony recognizes the best and brightest at Utah Tech University and these awards are considered some of the most prestigious offered on our campus. At the conclusion of each academic year, Utah Tech University is pleased to host this annual award ceremony honoring students and members of the campus community for their many accomplishments.

The Awards Ceremony will be Thursday, April 11, 2024
in the Eccles Mainstage Theater at 7 p.m.

JUDGING CRITERIA & NOMINATIONS

To learn more about each award select a category below and nominate your peers by filling out the linked form!
Student of the Year

This award recognizes an outstanding student who has distinguished themselves through:

  • Service to UT and the community
  • Involvement in numerous clubs and organizations
  • Leadership that has contributed to the success of the institution as a whole
  • Demonstrated success in the classroom through maintaining a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.5
  • Maintained full-time enrollment for 2 consecutive semesters

The successful nominee:

  • Is self-motivated
  • Has demonstrated service to others
  • Has significant experience in leading students

The Student of the Year is nominated by the campus community and then all nominees are contacted and asked to answer questions specific to this category. These materials are reviewed and narrowed to a field of five finalists by a preliminary screening committee. The materials from the five finalists are then given to a head judge – and the finalists are contacted to participate in a private interview where a panel selects the winner.

Past Winners of Student of the Year Award:

2023 – Corey Gardner
2022 – Morgan Olson
2021 – Riley Randall and Leonardo Lupiano
2020 – Kaylyn Fulton and John Gremillion
2019 – Wing Yin Jane Lo and Cajun Syrett
2018 – Hillary Beecher and Brandon Simister
2017 – Sarah Ramaker and Anthony Cirrito
2016 – Keshara Bjorkman and Dillon McKinney
2015 – Megan Church and Mikey Nelson
2014 – Jordyn Hanevold and Brandon Price
2013 – Samantha Warnick and Brody Mikesell

Nominate

Stafford Student Involvement Award

The Stafford Student Involvement Award is named in honor of Donna Stafford, who served as Director of Student Activities at UT for nearly two decades.

This award is given to a student who has:

  • Shown extraordinary commitment within one specific organization, club, or department at Utah Tech
  • Their contributions within the specific area were not only visible to those within their organization, but to the campus as a whole
  • This student has gone above and beyond their call of duty
  • Maintained a full-time enrollment for 2 consecutive semesters

The Stafford Student Involvement Candidates are nominated by the general campus community. All nominees are contacted and asked to answer questions specific to their category. These materials are then reviewed and narrowed to a field of five finalists by a preliminary screening committee. The materials from the top five are given to a head judge and the finalists may be contacted to participate in a private interview where a panel selects the winner. This category is not open to members of the UTSA Executive Council.

Past Winners of Stafford Student Involvement Award:

2023 – Benji Welch
2022 – Tamano Yamanaka
2021 – Deven Osborne
2020 – Valerie De La O
2019 – August Barlow
2018 – Stanley Rosander
2017 – Jess Dages
2016 – Morgan Kirk
2015 – Kristian Johnson
2014 – Lacy Culpepper
2013 – Morgan Kirk

Nominate

Entertainer of the Year

This award is presented to a student who has:

  • Shown exemplary talent, skill, and dedication in their chosen discipline
  • Truly been in the public eye performing as a representative of UT
  • Had outstanding performances before many types of audiences
  • Involvement within a particular, group, ensemble, or department
  • Maintained a full-time enrollment for 2 consecutive semesters

Candidates are nominated by the general campus community. All nominees are contacted and asked to answer questions specific to their category. These materials are reviewed and narrowed to a field of five finalists by a preliminary screening committee. The materials from the five finalists are then given to a head judge and the finalists are contacted to participate in a private interview and personal performance where a panel selects a winner.

Past Winners of Entertainer of the Year Award:

2023 – Courtnee Ramos
2022 – James David
2021 – Jessica Carrozza
2020 – Grace Palfreyman
2019 – Jaidyn Harris
2018 – Olga Ivanenko
2017 – Cajun Syrett
2016 – Matt Setoki
2015 – Sarah Ramaker
2014 – Sarah Ramaker
2013 – Karman Wilson

Nominate

Personality of the Year Award

This award is presented to a student:

  • Whose unique character, enthusiasm, and positive attitude have made a lasting impression on Utah Tech
  • Who has discovered their individuality and is not afraid to let it show
  • Who has contributed to the morale of faculty, staff, and students on campus
  • Maintained a full-time enrollment for 2 consecutive semesters

The Personality of the Year is nominated by the general campus community. All nominees are contacted and asked to answer questions specific to their category. These materials are then reviewed and narrowed to a field of five finalists by a preliminary screening committee. The materials from the finalists are given to a head judge and the finalists are contacted to participate in a private interview where a panel selects the winner.

Past Winners of Personality of the Year Award:

2023 – Dallas Clifford
2022 – Fernando Rodas
2021 – Penny Mills
2020 – Cameron Chatwin
2019 – Brett Coleman
2018 – Daylor Youngblood
2017 – James Kener
2016 – Matt Devore
2015 – Joey Acosta
2014 – Jordan Bracken
2013 – Ezra Hainsworth

Nominate

The GRIT Award

This award is presented to a student who has:

  • Faced and overcome significant personal obstacles
  • Found the strength and ability to succeed in their educational pursuits
  • Maintained a full-time enrollment for 2 consecutive semesters

The candidates are nominated by the campus community. Nominees are contacted and asked to answer questions specific to their category. These materials are reviewed and narrowed to a field of five finalists by a preliminary screening committee. The materials from the five finalists are then given to a head judge and committee who select the winner.

Past Winners of The GRIT Award:

2023 – Lillianna Rogers
2022 – Gerado Vargas-Zuniga
2021 – Felicity Tarr
2020 – Jose Toral-Martinez
2019 – Felicia Morris
2018 – Brooke Garceau
2017 – James Stone
2016 – Robin Harter
2015 – Alex Lambson
2014 – Maria Bonny
2013 – Joshua Walker

Nominate

Club of the Year

The Club of the Year contributes to the well-being of Utah Tech and the community through:

  • Its strength, campus activity, and commitment to serving others
  • Enthusiastically being involved as a club in campus life
  • Educational and social opportunities for its members
  • Must be chartered through Utah Tech’s ICC (Inter Club Council)

The Club of the Year is nominated by the general campus community. Club nominees are contacted and asked to answer questions specific to their category. These materials are reviewed and narrowed to a field of five finalists by a preliminary screening committee. The materials from the five finalists are then passed to the UTSA Inter Club Council who selects the winner.

Past Winners of Club of the Year Award:

2023 – Birds Aren’t Rea
2022 – Pickleball Club
2021 – Turning Point USA
2020 – National Association – Mental Illness (NAMI on Campus)
2019 – American Medical Women’s Association
2018 – Pacific Islander Student Association – (PISA)
2017 – Rural Health Scholars
2016 – Hispanic Students Association
2015 – Gay/Straight Alliance
2014 – Sigma Tau Delta
2013 – Utah Tech Serves

Nominate

Teachers of the Year

The coveted Teacher of the Year Award is presented to a full-time faculty member who have:

  • Contributed to academic excellence at Utah Tech through knowledge in their area of expertise
  • Exceptional teaching ability
  • Extraordinary dedication to the educational pursuits of students
  • Provided service and inspiration outside of the classroom.

Teachers of the Year are nominated by the campus community at large, then all nominees are contacted and asked to answer questions specific to this category. These materials are reviewed and narrowed to a field of finalists by a preliminary screening committee. The finalists are then passed to the Vice President of Academics who narrows the finalists to five in each group, assembles a committee to review all submitted materials of the finalists, and then the committee selects the winners.

Past Winners of Teacher of the Year Award:

2023 – Derrick Esplin
2022 – Roger Hale
2021 – Samuel Tobler
2020 – Curtis Larsen
2019 – Olga Pilkington
2018 – Paul “Lish” Harris
2017 – Rico Del Sesto
2016 – Kristine Olson
2015 – Theda Wrede
2014 – Del Smith
2013 – Stephen Armstrong

Nominate

Teacher of the Year - Rising Star

The coveted Teacher of the Year – Rising Star (three years or less) Award is presented to a full-time faculty member who have:

  • Have been employed full-time as faculty for three years or less
  • Contributed to academic excellence at Utah Tech through knowledge in their area of expertise
  • Exceptional teaching ability
  • Extraordinary dedication to the educational pursuits of students
  • Provided service and inspiration outside of the classroom.

Teachers of the Year – Rising Star are nominated by the campus community at large, then all nominees are contacted and asked to answer questions specific to this category. These materials are reviewed and narrowed to a field of finalists by a preliminary screening committee. The finalists are then passed to the Vice President of Academics who narrows to the top five finalists, assembles a committee to review all submitted materials of the finalists, and then the committee selects the winner.

Past Winners of Teacher of the Year – Rising Star Award:

2023 – Robert Kagabo
2022 – Cindy Greenman
2021 – Kristy Grayson
2020 – Raisa Alvarado
2019 – Travis Ficklin
2018 – Abu Khan
2017 – Sophie George
2016 – Brenda Armstrong
2015 – Martina Gaspari
2014 – Rico Del Sesto
2013 – Kristine Olson

Part-Teacher Faculty (formerly Adjunct)

The coveted Part-Time Faculty (formerly Adjunct) Award is presented to a full-time faculty member who have:

  • Contributed to academic excellence at Utah Tech through knowledge in their area of expertise
  • Exceptional teaching ability
  • Extraordinary dedication to the educational pursuits of students
  • Provided service and inspiration outside of the classroom.

Part-Time Faculty (formerly Adjunct) are nominated by the campus community at large, then all nominees are contacted and asked to answer questions specific to this category. These materials are reviewed and narrowed to a field of finalists by a preliminary screening committee. The finalists are then passed to the Vice President of Academics who narrows to the top five finalists, assembles a committee to review all submitted materials of the finalists, and then the committee selects the winner.

Past Winners of Part-Teacher Faculty (formerly Adjunct) Award:

2023 – Aaron Edgley
2022 – Sarah Black

Staff of the Year

This award category recognizes a Full-time staff employee who has distinguished themselves through remarkable service to faculty, staff, and students. A mirror award to Teacher of the Year, this category recognizes:

  • Demonstrated excellence in their position
  • Extraordinary dedication to their position that contributes to the campus overall and especially students

The Staff of the Year category is one of the greatest honors presented to a staff member at Utah Tech. The Staff of the Year award is nominated by the campus community at large. All nominations are given to the President of the Staff Association who assembles a committee to review the finalists and selects the top five finalists and the Staff of the Year award winner.

Past Winners of Staff of the Year Award:

2023 – Jared Madsen
2022 – Aaron Meadows
2021 – Shadman Bashir
2020 – Mikyla Richardson
2019 – Ali Threet
2018 – Kim Seaich
2017 – Chris Alverson and Dave Mortensen
2016 – Michele Tisdale and Jaclyn Kerouac
2015 – Jill Fiske and Terry Bell
2014 – Sylvia Bradshaw and Jon Gibb
2013 – Dana Kelvington

Nominate

Staff of the Year - Rising Star

This award category recognizes a Full-time staff employee that has been employed at Utah Tech for three years or less and who has distinguished themselves through remarkable service to faculty, staff, and students. A mirror award to Teacher of the Year – Rising Star, this category recognizes:

Demonstrated excellence in their position

  • Extraordinary dedication to their position that contributes to the campus overall and especially students

The Staff of the Year – Rising Star category is one of the greatest honors presented to a staff member at Utah Tech. The Staff of the Year – Rising Star award is nominated by the campus community at large. All nominations are given to the President of the Staff Association who assembles a committee to review the finalists and selects the top five finalists and the Staff of the Year – Rising Star award winner.

Past Winners of Staff of the Year – Rising Star Award:

2023 – Alicia Frank
2022 – Garyn Gulbranson
2021 – Tyson Kauer
2020 – Brenten Canfield
2019 – Chandler Whitlock
2018 – Jessica Davis

Nominate

Commitment to Inclusion and Diversity Award

This award is presented to a student, faculty, staff or community member who has:

  • Demonstrated extraordinary commitment to and involvement with inclusivity and diversity at Utah Tech
  • Made contributions to inclusion and diversity that has been visible to the campus community as a whole
  • Candidates for this award may be nominated by either campus or community members.

Nominations will be reviewed and narrowed to a field of five finalists by the Utah Tech University Center for Inclusion and Belonging Staff. The top five finalists will subsequently be recommended to the head judge who reviews the nomination materials, and may conduct private interviews of the top five finalists prior to selecting the winner.

Past Winners of Inclusion and Diversity Award:

2023 – Mike Nelson
2022 – Kimberly Querales
2021 – Blair Barfuss
2020 – Mayor Jon Pike
2019 – Doajo Hicks
2018 – Daneka Souberville
2017 – Sylvia Bradshaw
2016 – Donna Howell
2015 – Christina Duncan
2014 – Rae Matalolo

Nominate

Community Partner of the Year

This award recognizes local community partners (organizations/businesses/individuals) that have been extraordinary in their support of UT students, faculty, and staff. The Community Partners of the Year are nominated by the general campus community and the nomination materials are reviewed and narrowed to a field of up to five finalists by a committee.

2023 – Encircle, Lin’s Grocery, Star Sign and VCBO Architectures

Nominate

Contact

Del Beatty

Vice President of Student Affairs

Phone: 435-652-7514

Ali Threet

Dean of Students

Phone: 435-652-7514

Kristel Johnson

Executive Assistant for Student Affairs

Email: Kristel.johnson@utahtech.edu

Phone: 435-652-7514