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NSLS Members in the News


Check out these amazing stories of our members reaching their goals in November. This month, we're proud to highlight stories that leave a lasting impact through leadership. 

Our mission at the NSLS is to Build Leaders Who Make a Better World. Our members participate in volunteer events, and take part in a wide range of community service initiatives. Upon graduation, they apply the interpersonal skills they've acquired to start businesses, pursue promotions, and more.

FIU Chemistry Student Named Rhodes Scholarship Finalist

Joni Spencer, Florida International University, was named a 2023 finalist for the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship. If she’s awarded the scholarship, she’ll attend the University of Oxford, England, to begin full-time postgraduate studies. 

Joni is currently completing her senior year at FIU where she’s pursuing her bachelor’s degree in chemistry and mathematics. She has a 4.0 GPA and recently participated in a summer research program sponsored by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). 

Her participation in the program centered around research into the optimization of materials used in the assembly of EV batteries. The purpose of the research was to learn ways to improve the efficiency and sustainability of electric cars as a workable option to cars with combustion engines. 

Originally from Antigua and Barbuda, Joni is a dedicated scholar at FIU, where she participates in laboratory research studying biochemical reactions that help protect life in space. As a student in the university’s Honors College, she works as a peer learning assistant for Calculus 3 students. She was also awarded the UN-sponsored Millennium Fellowship and is working on a project aimed at improving the financial literacy of young people.

Read the Full Story at Florida International University >>


NW Missouri Graduate Recognized for Achievements

Kevin Nguyen, recent graduate of Northwest Missouri State University, has been recognized by the university for his achievements in speaking and debate while pursuing his bachelor’s in criminology. 

Following a freshman-year win at a national prose interpretation competition, Kevin and his fellow NMSU competitors faced a two-year tournament pause due to the pandemic. 

During his senior year, Kevin earned All-American status honors and was ranked superior in the top 10% of competitors in poetry interpretation, informative speech, and oral interpretation at the Pi Kappa Delta Biennial Convention.

Kevin is now pursuing his master’s degree in social work at the University of Michigan, with future plans to pursue opportunities in developing and shaping policy. He’s most interested in working to reshape and reframe societal institutions, programs, and structures.

Read the Full Story at NMSU >>


Arkansas Student Completes Competitive CES Internship

Rayvin Callaway was awarded one of 11 sought-after paid internships at the Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service (CES), which acts as a liaison between the government and the community on agricultural matters. Rayvin is a junior and member of the University of Arkansas at Monticello chapter where she’s pursuing bachelor’s degrees in animal science and plant and soil science. 

Rayvin interned at the Bradley County CES office over a ten-week period this past summer. She worked with County Extension Agents on the development and conduct of community educational events, attended meetings where stakeholders discussed local issues under the County Extension purview, and provided material support to agents in research and assembly of materials. 

Prior to entering her course of study at UA-Monticello, Rayvin was an active member of the Lincoln County Critters 4-H Club. During her 4-H membership, she concentrated on projects involving a variety of livestock. After graduation, she plans to pursue a career as an extension agent.

Read the Full Story at the Stuttgart Daily Leader >>


NIU Senior Named Student Lincoln Laureate

Vilaya Sirivong, Northern Illinois University, has been named NIU’s 2022 Student Lincoln Laureate. The Lincoln Academy Student Laureate Award is a competitive honor that’s awarded to one senior from each of Illinois’s four-year universities. The award is given based on excellence and achievement in academics and extracurricular activities. 

Vilaya is scheduled to graduate with a bachelor’s in management, emphasis in leadership. In addition to her academic pursuits, she also works as an intern for an education software company. Additionally, Vilaya is a student leader in several organizations and groups on campus, including the NIU chapter of Camp Kesem, a free summer camp for children of parents who have cancer. 

Vilaya is a recipient of the SEAFellow scholarship, which provides a four-year NIU tuition waiver. She’s also president of the Management and Business Administration Student Advisory Board and member of the NIU Dean’s Student Advisory Board.

Read the Full Story at Northern Illinois University >>


Business Leader Recognized for Professional Excellence

Renee Sandford, graduate of University of Maryland Global Campus, was recently recognized for her professional and personal achievements by Marquis Who’s Who Top Executives. 

Renee graduated from UMGC with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and management. Additionally, she earned a Business Project Manager Certificate from UMGC and an Executive Education Certificate from the University of Richmond. In addition to her NSLS membership, Renee is also a member of the National Minority Supplier Development Council. 

Renee currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer of Star Power Group and Associates, a small business consultancy providing concierge and event planning services. They help client companies transform their corporate culture and grow based on the client’s mission and values.

Read the Full Story from Marquis Who's Who Top Executive >>


Other NSLS Members Receiving Recognition IN NOVEMBER:

Raylee Evans, Lee University, competed in the “Parade of Favorites,” an annual Lee University student talent showcase that partners with City Refuge to help individuals and families transition out of crisis. Full Story >>

Dr. Mattie Blake, PhD, University of Phoenix, ran for Valdosta City Council and will compete in a runoff election on December 6 for the empty seat. Full Story >>

Daniela Lagunas, Peru State College, was elected Homecoming Queen for 2022 by PSC students. Full Story >>

Dr. Elizabeth Uchegbu, Walden University, published a children’s book titled Pandemic Party through Dorrance Publishing Co., Inc. Full Story >>

Elyse Blackwell, Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, and Leone Martin have been named recipients of Diversity Scholars Program scholarships at Appalachian State University. Full Story >>