Student Leader of the Month

Recognition for excellence in leadership through campus and community involvement.

We invite you to nominate a student who you believe exemplifies leadership through personal development, organizational leadership and/or community engagement. To receive this recognition, the student must be in good academic standing.

Nominations will be reviewed and selected by members of the Kent State University Leadership Center staff.

Student Leader of the Month recipients will receive:

  • Student Leader of the Month Certificate
  • End-of-Semester lunch with other recipients and divisional leaders
  • $15 gift card to the KSU Bookstore
  • Recognition on the Student Leader of the Month website
  • Recognition in the monthly Leadership Newsletter
  • Mention in a twitter post via @KentStateLeads

If you have any questions, please contact

Submit a Nomination for Student Leader of the Month

SEPTEMBER - Student Leader of the Month


Communication Studies

Her nominator, Ariana, had this to say about her:

"Sophia Kiriakou is in involved within multiple organizations within Kent State, which includes working as an Exploratory Mentor through the Kent State Advising Center. Through the Exploratory Program she helps first year students connect with campus resources and learn about career readiness and exploration. Sophia is also Vice President of the Commuter and Off-Campus Student, which is a position that she values as a commuter herself. Through this Vice President title, she connects with students at Kent State University, hosts and plans social events with various staff, assists with official social media platforms, and hosts weekly office hours. Finally, Sophia is involved within the executive board of Kent Communication Society. She majors in Communication Studies with two minors in Psychology, and Disability Studies and Community Inclusion. Through this organization, Sophia has host meetings in both an in person and remote setting, as well as formed connections through the CCI department.”

OCTOBER - Student Leader of the Month

Theatre Design 

Their nominator, Katie Mattise, had this to say:

"I first met Graham when they arrived on campus a few years ago. Even back then, they were strong in their beliefs and looking for ways to move Kent State and the people that make up its community toward social justice. Since that time, that drive has grown and they’ve found ways to take up that cause more formally. Graham just started working in the LGBTQ+ Center on campus this semester. Last year and this year, Graham has served as the president of Threads. Last year was an especially tough year and it didn’t spare student group involvement. Graham took that year to occasionally meet with me (the advisor) to strategize and plan for this year.

Since being back on campus, Graham has worked hard to build up Threads and get back what was lost throughout the pandemic (recognition, membership, events & planning). They’re still in the process of doing so, but the time and effort they put in should definitely be recognized. They were instrumental in planning a Queer Fam night during K/T. They tabled at the resource fair for K/T and at Blast Off. They did all this while being the only e-board member, moving back to the Kent area, getting ready for their classes, taking on a new position at the LGBTQ+ Center, and dealing with all the challenges of the pandemic still raging on. Their commitment to creating community, especially for those with multiple marginalized identities, is inspiring. Graham’s dream for Threads is to provide a space for those that don’t always have them at KSU (queer people, trans folks, students of color, people with disabilities, etc) and to educate around and advocate for them. Graham has grown tremendously since I first met them. They’ve stepped up into leadership roles in ways I don’t know if they would’ve been comfortable when they first got here. It’s been really amazing to be along for the ride.”

NOVEMBER - Student Leader of the Month

Aerospace Engineering

Her nominator, Yewande Moore, had this to say about her:

"When I think of a student who embodies this model in totality, I think of Julia. Julia is probably the most hard-working student I have come across in my tenure here at Kent State. She is heavily involved all over campus and still maintains very strong grades in her academics. She is committed to cultivating a great student experience for our on-campus students through her work as Executive Director of KIC. Through this journey she is responsible for an organization that is committed to programming, student engagement, advocacy, and service for almost 6,000 students. Additionally, KIC does a number of sustainability and social justice initiatives through our Eco Reps and Social Justice Advocates.

Julia has done a phenomenal job in preparing her executive board for a year of success to properly execute and accomplish their goals. I am proud that in such a short time, Julia has learned this new position and has made it her own and has already positively impacted so many people and has also inspired so much change on campus. She is beyond deserving of this recognition and honor."


DECEMBER- Student Leader of the Month

Fashion Major

His nominator, Thomas Neipsuj, had this to say about him:

"Matthew, or Matt, is one of the strongest student leaders I know. Since I have graduated, he is one of the few student leaders that I still stay connected with and actively see his impact. Most recently I saw him excel as Sig Ep's philanthropy chair, where he raised over 1K for suicide prevention with an exciting "Egg an Ep" event that was help for 12 hours and got lots of community support and expanded past the traditional Greeks only philanthropy format. Matt is also heavily involved with SSP and has grown a lot as a leader. He uses these experiences to aid in USG and IFC. IFC is of particular importance, because Matt sits as the diversity chair for the board. He is fully aware that he is a straight white male and that it is almost ironic that he sits in this position, but he is a true statement of a privileged identity fighting for minorities and those less represented. He works on connecting the community, bringing awareness to equity and inclusion of diverse identities, and is even working with IFC on diversity workshops. Something we do not see a lot of in the IFC community. He has just grown a lot as a leader and it is cool to see this growth out of a young man that still has so much time left at the university. He is self-aware, driven, and hopes to one day use his career to help with the sustainability and abuse of labor within the fashion industry, which I think is admirable. He is also very comfortable with learning, growing, and sharing what he learns to others, which I saw a lot with him as a peer leader trainer with SSP. Matt is just overall great kid that just deserves so much recognition and a true shout out for the hard work he puts out into the University, the community, and one day the whole world."


FEBRUARY - Student Leader of the Month


Hannah's nominator, Haley Corley, had this to say about her:

"As her advisor, I have watched Hannah grow immensely as a leader over the past year. She currently serves as the president of Delta Gamma here at Kent State and her commitment to providing members with a positive, worthwhile membership experience is apparent in everything she does. As a previous executive board member, Hannah demonstrated self-reflection and tried to better her intrapersonal leadership by attending workshops, finding resources, and calling on the support of her advisors. Now, Hannah demonstrates her commitment to interpersonal leadership by sharing leadership development opportunities with her fellow officers, integrating team building activities into meetings, and constantly providing support to members in need. Hannah also cares for her community and seeks to create positive change. I am so proud of the leader she is becoming and cannot wait to see the legacy she leaves on the KSU community."

MARCH- Student Leader of the Month

Taryn Phillips-Smith
Human Development and Family Studies

Taryn's nominator, Nicole Kotlan had this to say about her:

I have had the pleasure of working with Taryn over the past four years as the Senior Director of the Exploratory Advising Center in University College at Kent State University. I believe Taryn exemplifies the description of the awarded as a student leader of the month and more. 

 Taryn has been involved in multiple programs, excelled in her leadership, and been committed to her community. Over this past month, Taryn has served as a member of University College’s Student Ambassador program, K/T Family Leader, more specifically, a K/T Mentor, a student panelist for the Exploratory Program’s Admissions program Future Flashes, President of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Incorporated, and an intern for Limitless Ambition, Inc.

I have observed first-hand the impact Taryn has had on other students (future Flashes to her peers) and within our community. Most recently, I have been so impressed with her leadership in and out of the classroom. Specifically in her roles as the President of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Incorporated. In this position, she leads and supports chapter members as they live their commitment to service. This bridges over well to her internship with Limitless Ambition, Inc. this semester. Her commitment to creating positive change is fostered by her passion to give back to the youth in this organization as she gains experience. In this role, she is developing and revising curriculum for teen programs and workshops. She is also facilitating Teen Enrichment Programs, fostering collaboration partnerships with school administrators (K-12), and assessing programming efforts. She is also overseeing the teen engagement platforms for the non-profit, including Instagram and GroupMe. 

 She has successfully done this and maintained a solid academic record while juggling numerous leadership activities and a part-time job. I believe a key to her leadership success is she cares beyond her four walls, she cares about students, Kent State and the community beyond. As you can tell, I think very highly of Taryn and provide this letter of support for her consideration for the award.