Month: April 2018


First Year Student of the Month

School: Truman State University Region: MACURH
Nominee: Mark Van Coutren Nominator: Erin Darr

On-Campus Population: 2600 Chapter Size: 26

Please explain the outstanding contributions of the nominee during the month of nomination

During the month of April, I was able to watch a first year student continue to increase his involvement at Truman State University and contribute to student organizations across campus. Mark Van Coutren had a busy month with induction into an academic honors fraternity, participation in campus activities, being an RHA representative of his Residence Hall, and serving on the RHA Mental Health Awareness Task Force. As the semester comes to a close and gets busy with academics, I enjoyed that he stayed excited and contributed in many different ways throughout the month.

From April 16 through April 22, Mark participated in Truman's Human vs. Zombies competition, a campus game where students simulate a real life zombie apocalypse outbreak 24 hours a day, for a week. Throughout the week, students can often be seen running around campus with either a headband or arm band symbolizing either human or zombie status. It was fun to watch the community of players throughout the week, and I watched Mark on multiple occasions fleeing from zombies around his Residence Hall or on the campus Quad.

Mark is also involved in the Residence Hall Association where he provides updates from the Missouri Hall Council he is a part of as the RHA representative. His attendance at RHA meetings has been amazing throughout the year, and he also showed dedication to the organization by attending outside events. On April 28, Mark attended the RHA formal where it was exciting to see his fun side shine as he danced with other RHA members and make connections with attendees.

The largest project put on with the help of Mark this month was the RHA Mental Health Awareness Task Force campus outreach project. Until the late April, the Task Force met weekly to prepare for the project, and Mark stepped up to serve as one of the co-chairs. In this role, he was a part of the group of around eight student leaders who coordinated the creation of stepping stones with student hand prints. On April 27, Mark tabled on the Quad with RHA members to allow students to place their hands in cement and speak about positive mental health on campus. Mark assisted a lot with the cement creation process, giving away of remembrance buttons, and helped recruit in attendance to the table through his honors fraternity.

On the evening of April 30, students gathered for a Candlelight Vigil with the stepping stones that were created. The stones were layed outside of the health center to represent students giving a helping hand to themselves and others with regard to metal health. Students took part in reflection about mental health on campus, and had conversations guided by questions from the Task Force. Mark contributed greatly to the conversation and gave lots of feedback from a first year perspective. His vulnerability to discuss this with other attendees and provide encouragement was impressive as most attendees were older students. Mark gave assistance to others to help light candles and help with tear down following the vigil.

First year student at Truman State University often students stay focused on academics early on and branch out during second semester. I loved watching Mark pursue getting involved and finding community through different organizations on campus. He took on many responsibilities to support the RHA campus outreach project and have high involvement in activities put on throughout the month of April. Going into next year, I'm thrilled to watch Mark continue to grow and hope that he builds on his engagement from this year to make a high impact at Truman State University next fall.

Word Count: 600

Date of entry into database: 2018-05-05 23:52:08

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