Maldonado Recognized as Senior of the Year at Student Recognition Dinner 

Ella Wiebusch, News Editor

As the night came to a close, five seniors stood with bated breath at the front of a host of peers, faculty, staff, and parents. Recognized for their academic, organizational, and leadership merits, each candidate waited anxiously to hear which name would be called. With all of them deserving of such an honor, it was hard for anyone to pick just who would be presented with the Buena Vista University (BVU) Senior of the Year Award. 

As his name was called on the night of Saturday, Apr. 27, award recipient Alan Maldonado stepped forward with a huge grin on his face, feeling honored to have even been nominated.  

“It was an amazing feeling when my name got called. The other candidates were all very well deserving of the award, and so to have won is a great honor for me,” said Maldonado. 

A business and Spanish double-major, Maldonado is the current Student Senate President, a Community Coordinator for Residence Life, and a member of both the Spanish honor society Sigma Delta Pi and the Hispanic Club. Despite his illustrious record here on campus, Maldonado expressed his thanks with humility.  

I never expected this. I don’t believe anyone in their freshmen year walks into BVU thinking they’ll be the winner of this great honor,” shared Maldonado. “Four years is a long time, and to have even been nominated for this award is a testimony to four years of hard work and dedication to the university.” 

The other four semi-finalists who were up for the award were Andrew Bandstra, Brandon Glienke, Emily Kim, and Jenny Schildroth, all of whom are accomplished students in their own right, which made getting Senior of the Year so special for Maldonado. The selection process was one that sought to involve everyone on campus from faculty and staff to students and alumni, and for Maldonado the real significance of the award is in the recognition of his efforts to leave a legacy at BVU. 

I hope to leave campus thinking I did what I could with what I had, said Maldonado.” There is always more work to be done and work that could have been done better; however, I leave BVU feeling happy and prideful of the connections I’ve made. BVU has incredible people here, and to be able to think I helped in the development of future leaders is a true blessing.” 

Besides the Senior of the Year award, many students and other individuals were honored for their outstanding achievements and contributions to BVU. One such award was given to a pair of special people for their support of a BVU student 

Joseph and Rochelle Graf received the Parents of the Year award, having been nominated by their daughter, Mel Graf.  

I nominated my parents for Parents of the Year because I wanted the chance to show them how much their continued support throughout my college career has meant to me. Whenever I needed anything—to ask for advice, to lament a poor test grade, to simply chat—they were always there to lend an ear,” said Graf. 

Graf finds that it is difficult to say whether there is one singular area that her parents have had the most influence in, as they have played a part in virtually every aspect of her college career. Graf explained that that is the nature of having a great support system: it becomes difficult to figure out where their influence begins and ends. Without them in her corner, Graf’s college experience as a whole would have been poorer. 

When Graf told her parents that they would be receiving the award, they were completely taken aback and felt “incredibly humbled.” 

“When I received the email that they were receiving this award, we were all sitting together in the living room. I forwarded them the email, nonchalantly saying that it was official BVU business that they needed to look at,” said Graf. “They were completely shocked when they opened the email. I was grateful for the opportunity to show my parents that they are deserving of such an award, and to show the world how awesome my parents are.” 

Graf says that her parents are the friendliest, kindest, most good-natured people one can ever meet. Their constant efforts to make the world around them a better place have had a profound impact on Graf’s own outlook on life because, as she says, they make it easy to see the good that exists in the world. 

“My parents deserve this award because despite the distance between here and home, despite the crazy schedules that we all have, despite the hardships that life throws at us and the indecision that can plague our minds, they have never once faltered in their love and support of my educational pursuits. They believe wholeheartedly that I can achieve my goals, even when I wholeheartedly believe that there’s no way I can achieve my goals.” 

Both Maldonado and Graf agree that what truly matters at the end of the day is the people who have loved and supported them along the way. 

“BVU has the potential to give every student here an amazing experience,” said Maldonado.It’s just a matter of working for it and stepping out of your comfort zone. Everyone should take advantage of the four years they have here and never take for granted all the experiences here, good and bad. In the end, BVU will have prepared you to be a better person with the skills needed to get your career started.”