Celebrating the 2020 Medallion Scholars

Posted by Dr. Lopez on

Group photo of the 2020 Medallion cohort.

We recently celebrated our graduating 2020 Medallion Scholars at a special April event here at the Lee Honors College. This gathering served as wonderful way to commemorate four very eventful years at WMU.

When this cohort began their time as WMU students, we were in the initial months of the COVID-19 pandemic and though their introduction to college life was not how they imagined it might be, they persevered and accomplished a great deal while modeling leadership skills to the Medallion cohorts that have followed them.

In order to maintain eligibility, Medallion Scholars must select and fully participate in a community service project throughout their time at WMU. The nature and scope of this project are determined in consultation with fellow Medallion Scholars and the honors college dean and assistant dean. 

The 2020 Medallion Scholars chose to work on climate change. Over the past four years, they have championed three projects: 

1) Zero-Waste Athletic Events,
2) Climate Café events, and
3) The Student Sustainability Summit, which they organize yearly.  

The Zero-Waste Athletic Events represent a significant undertaking in which our Medallions have worked with several campus offices, unions, and a private contractor. The Office of Sustainability has supported their work, as has the contractor of a local compost company. This company provided a compost dumpster, housed outside Read Fieldhouse. Medallions, along with student volunteers, coordinated at the WMU women's basketball games to encourage patrons not to throw food waste away in regular garbage bins, but to direct them to the composting bins, where other volunteers hand-sorted the waste to ensure it was compostable. 

Their goal of these events is to demonstrate to WMU administration that this effort is feasible and to advocate for the university to take over and staff this effort at all WMU athletic events. Now they are ready to hand over their project to the 2023 Medallions, who have been trained by the 2020 Medallions during their first year on campus, and who will continue their work and add their own stamp to it. 

The 2020 Medallions also created a registered student organization called the Student Climate Mental Health Network in order to host regular Climate Café events on campus. Through this group, the scholars worked to build a community for students to share and explore feelings of distress about the climate crisis. While hosting Climate Café community-led discussions, they collectively developed resources for climate-related mental health issues while providing professional development for group members.

As a part of their service, the 2020 Medallions organized and hosted WMU’s third annual Student Sustainability Summit, a free event open to students, staff, faculty and the greater community. The Summit serves primarily to connect groups on campus, share common climate crisis concerns and prioritize actions that WMU could take to advance sustainability. While facilitating this event, the 2020 Medallions worked with the 2023 cohort to prepare them to present this event in 2025.  

Congratulations to the graduating 2020 Medallion Scholars. They have made a tangible impact on this campus that will continue for years to come.

As pictured above (left to right): Megan Baldry, Bryan Hagenbarth, Griffin Fill, Emily Bosak, Emma Perrin, Maggie Waechter, Marysol Millar, Rebecca Fraley, Emma Hampel, Olivia Antoniolli, Kiara Durbin, Kayla Byrd and Jacob Tebben. (Not pictured: Sam Longlet and Emmanuel Marfo.)