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STLCC Students Receive Leadership Awards

Thursday, April 29, 2021


Four St. Louis Community College students were honored for outstanding leadership on their campuses.

Each received the 2021 Student Leadership Award from the Missouri Community College Association.

The MCCA Student Leadership Awards are presented annually to an exceptional student leader from each of Missouri's colleges/campuses. Recipients are identified by their college/campus president/chancellor and chief student affairs officer.

The award recipients are Heather Cabeza from Wildwood, Oluwaranti Oginni from Forest Park, Kristina Wideman from Meramec, and Annsara Watson from Florissant Valley.

Heather CabezaA gymnastics coach and former teacher, Heather Cabeza enrolled at STLCC-Wildwood determined to launch a new career as a physical therapist. In May, she will graduate with an associate degree in general transfer studies. In August, she will begin the Doctor of Physical Therapy program at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

At STLCC, Cabeza is an honor student, maintains a 4.0 GPA and is actively involved on campus. She is currently the president of the Beta Rho Epsilon chapter for Phi Theta Kappa after having held a vice president role last year. She has also been an active member of Science Club and Club Council, and has volunteered at several campus events. Outside of class, she is a working mother with a young child and family.

Stephanie Church, coordinator for campus life and college transition, wrote this about Heather in her nomination letter: “Heather has been an unwavering student leader and mentor during her academic journey at St. Louis Community College. Not only has she pursued her academic goals with fierce determination and persistence, but she has done so while demonstrating a deep commitment to serve others. Heather truly is ‘determination and resilience in motion,’ and we are so proud of everything that she has achieved.”

Oluwaranti Oginni Oluwaranti Oginni is in the physical therapy assistant program at Forest Park. She is described as an outstanding student leader in the Archer MADE (Making a Difference in Education) mentoring program. It connects new students with peers who are academically successful, proven leaders who can introduce them to campus life, resources, activities and leadership opportunities.

Oginni has given countless hours to working with her fellow students at STLCC. She uses her energy to impact the STLCC community by motivating her mentees and models the way toward student success.

"Oluwaranti always goes the extra mile to assist with the program,” said Dedra Duncan, supervisor of Forest Park’s Archer MADE program. She is an excellent communicator, organized, and stays current with says to motivate students. We would love to have more students like her on the team."

Kristina Wideman has served as president of the Meramec Student Governance Council through the 2020-21 academic year. During her term, Wideman has made community engagement and recognition a priority. She has a sharp sense of humor and a love and care for STLCC.

As SGC president, Wideman has provided leadership for several virtual events and activities. The group hosted a “chocolate tasting,” where more than 50 participants got a lesson in creating brigadeiros, which are Brazilian chocolate truffles. Each participant received a kit in the mail and then logged in for a cultural chocolate tasting and lessons in making brigadeiros. There was even a “truffle sculpture” challenge.

Under Wideman’s leadership, SGC also hosted several “paint parties,” an international foods virtual scavenger hunt, and, in collaboration with STLCC counseling departments, a virtual event about suicide awareness. At the beginning of the spring 2021 semester, SGC sought nominations to recognize faculty who went above and beyond to support students during the move to virtual learning in spring 2020.

Annsara WatsonAnnsara Watson is a nontraditional student who will earn an associate degree in general studies with honors in May 2021. A retired licensed practical nurse, Watson has been on the dean's list at Florissant Valley since she enrolled in spring 2020. She boasts a 3.6 GPA, is a member of Phi Theta Kappa honor society and student representative for the Student Government Association.

Watson serves as a leader both on and off campus. Perhaps more impressive is the fact that Watson has achieved such success despite being diagnosed with cervical cancer in February 2008 and another condition that doctors can do nothing about. Watson made a promise to her mother, who is a colon cancer survivor, that before she drew her last breath, she would have Watson's associate and bachelor's degrees. Keeping this promise has driven Watson to achieve at high levels and shine as a leader.

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