2023 Thunderbird Awards announce winners

At the 73rd annual Thunderbird Awards on April 22, Southern Utah University honored faculty, students and staff for their significant contributions to the T-Bird community.

The ceremony included diverse performances by the finalists for the Artist of the Year Award in addition to the presentation of each individual award.

“Our Thunderbird Awards have a rich history at SUU with 73 years of recognizing excellence,” SUU President Mindy Benson said. “[The event] gives us a chance to come together and celebrate our faculty, staff and students in one night.”

The prestigious award ceremony evoked plenty of emotion while showing off some of SUU’s best and brightest. Longtime T-Bird Mitchell Bealer felt especially touched after receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award.

“It means a great deal to me to be up on this stage with all the other amazing people that were honored tonight for their incredible achievements,” Bealer said. “I truly can’t imagine spending a lifetime working anywhere else. Here at SUU, I truly do bleed Thunderbird red.”

The 2023 award winners are listed below:

Carmen Rose Hepworth Award
Gail Harris

Staff Community and Culture Award
Adam Wilcock

Student Personality of the Year Award
Allan Ahanonu

Employee Personality of the Year Award
Sara Greener

Georgia Beth Thompson Service Award
Kamarie Dalton

Distinguished Faculty Service Award
Jacqualine Grant

Staff Mentorship Award
Karson Rasmussen

Female Athlete of the Year
Cherita Daugherty

Male Athlete of the Year
Tevian Jones

Student Commitment to Inclusion and Diversity
Hector Cedillo Tellez

Staff Commitment to Inclusion and Diversity
Landry Igiraneza

Distinguished Faculty for Diversity and Inclusion
Julie McCown

Outstanding Educator for Inclusion & Diversity
Chirstin Stephens

Sterling R. Church Student Involvement Award
Candice Riddell

Staff Distinguished Initiative or Activity
Mike Miller

Distinguished Faculty for Global Engagement Award
Shalini Kesar

Distinguished Scholarly or Creative Activity Award
John Belk
Brianne Kramer
Sijun Liu

Gerald R. Sherratt Friend of SUU Award
Tessa Douglas

Outstanding Classified Staff
Kendall Parry

Outstanding Professional Staff
Alison Adams

Distinguished Educator Awards
Nicole Dib
Crystal Koenig
Brock Landrum

Outstanding Educator Award
Gretchen Ellefson

University Department of the Year Award
Facilities Management

Student Organization of the Year Award
SUU Animal Ambassadors

Artist of the Year Award
Anne Turner

Board of Trustees Staff Award of Excellence
Donna Law

Board of Trustees Faculty Award of Excellence
Matt Barton

R. Kenneth Benson Award
Alexa Lord

Lifetime Achievement Award
Mitch Bealer

The list of finalists and award descriptions can be found here.


Story by Kale Nelson


Photo by Nick Stein