Peru, NE - The 2023 Student Senate Banquet was held on April 16th, 2023, in the Live Oak Room on the Peru State College campus. The event, attended by members and guests, acknowledged a remarkable year of dedication to the betterment of the Peru State community. Phillip Hensarling, President of the Student Senate, presided over the banquet.

After Hensarling’s welcome, dinner served by Fresh Ideas, and the introduction of the Student Senate members, the focus of the evening shifted to the presentation of the Student Senate Service Awards. 

“One of the great ways Student Senate serves the Peru State community is by elevating the great works of students and student organizations on campus,” said Dr. Jesse Dorman, Vice President for Enrollment Management. 

The Scroll of Service Award recognizes a current, full-time Peru State student who has shown dedication and service to the student body and the College and is the most distinguished non-academic accolade. This award was presented to Ryan Arnold, a 2023 Peru State graduate majoring in Biochemical Science and minoring in Kinesiology. Arnold has served as a Resident Assistant in Delzell Hall, a Christian Student Fellowship leader, a chemistry research assistant in the science department, a student tutor, president of club golf, member of Rotaract, science club, and student senate, and involved in the Peru Theatre Company. He plans to attend the University of Tennessee for Ph.D. studies in chemistry.

The Barb Lewellen Award honors an outstanding faculty, staff member, or administrator who has distinguished themself through the betterment of students and student life at Peru State College. This award was presented to Danny Hayes, Instructor of Criminal Justice. Hayes is the advisor of three clubs on campus (PRIDE, Kappa Omicron Rho, and the Golf Club). Hayes has taken students to numerous regional and national conferences in his eleven years at Peru State and has taken students on Study Abroad experiences to Europe three times. Hayes also teaches all Peru State Sociology courses.

The Elaine Hanson Award distinguishes an individual (or individuals) not enrolled or employed by the campus who show true dedication to the members of the Peru State College Community through their continued service to students and the institution. This award was presented to DJ and Lindy Schmidt, owners, and operators of The Market Grocery in Peru. The Schmidts opened their store in Peru in September of 2022. Their endeavor has provided immense value to the town of Peru, Peru State College, and surrounding area. The Schmidt’s also own another grocery store in Louisville, Nebraska. 

The Thomas Ediger Award honors a club or organization that has shown exemplary service to the campus and surrounding community. This award was presented to SAIL (Students Active in Leadership). SAIL is a student-led organization for Student Success Services (SSS) members whose purpose is to grow leadership and social skills, provide service and outreach, and experience professional growth. Members organize community service and volunteer activities to benefit the campus, community, and region. SAIL’s projects this year included a fall and spring roadside trash pick-up, hosting two American Red Cross blood drives, cleaning the Missouri River banks, button-making for donations to SOS (Serving Our Students) and donating $381 to the Foundation office from this effort, Valentine’s for Vet’s for the Omaha VA Medical Center, a toilet paper drive for the homeless shelter at the Open Door Mission, and more. 

“It is truly an honor each year to be present when Student Senate recognizes the service and dedication that members of our community provide to others,” said Dr. Dorman. “This year was no different as these traits were very present in the award winners. All the recipients and nominees this year give of so much of themselves for others and represent why Peru State is such a special community.” 

Additional recognition went to the Student Senate for the many successful activities the organization was involved in throughout the year, outgoing Student Senate President Phillip Hensarling for his outstanding leadership and dedication, and President-Elect Becky Hupp and Vice President-Elect Shannon Jones. Dr. Dorman presided over the ceremonial passing of the gavel to President-Elect Hupp. Inaugural speeches were provided by Hupp and Jones, and Hupp provided those in attendance with the farewell. 

The 2023 Student Senate Banquet was a fitting tribute to the remarkable achievements of the organization as well as Peru State College's students, faculty, staff, and community members. 

The Student Senate works to improve the experience for students on campus through direct funding or sponsorship of clubs, organizations, community wide initiatives, Homecoming, Campus Activities Board, club sports, the campus newspaper, and more. Also, Student Senate serves as a link between the student body and the College faculty and staff by bringing forward concerns or improvements. The mission of the Student Senate is to be the voice of the students for the students. 

Nestled in the hills of historic southeast Nebraska, Peru State College offers a mix of innovative online and traditional classroom undergraduate and graduate programs, including online graduate degrees in education and organizational management. 

Established in 1867 as Nebraska’s first college, Peru State has transformed over the past century and a half into a state-of-the-art institution offering diverse, multifaceted educational programs annually to nearly 2,000 students.