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2014 ExCEL Award winners announced at Homecoming game

Sunday, September 28, 2014

LAWRENCE — Two University of Kansas seniors received the 24th annual Excellence in Community, Education and Leadership Awards during halftime of the KU-Texas homecoming football game Sept. 27 in Memorial Stadium.

The 2014 ExCEL award winners are Ellie Eastes of Pratt and Graham Naasz of Overland Park. 

Ellie Eastes, who is majoring in applied behavioral science with a minor in sociology, is the daughter of William and Dee Dee Eastes of Pratt. She was an orientation coordinator and assistant for the Office of First-Year Experience and vice president of Best Buddies, a group dedicated to working with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. She also has participated in Mortar Board, the University Honors Program and Omega Phi Alpha, the campus service sorority. She served as a site leader for Alternative Breaks. 

Graham Naasz, a biology major, is the son of Steven and Donna George Naasz of Overland Park. He is a member of the Student Endowment board and Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity. He was selected to attend the LeaderShape campus conference, and he created an Easter Egg Hunt to benefit Douglas County Special Olympics. 

The ExCEL Award provides an annual $500 award to two students. The winners will plan the Blueprints Leadership Conference next spring in conjunction with KU’s Student Involvement and Leadership Center.

The winners were selected from among 10 finalists on the basis of leadership, effective communication skills, involvement at KU and in the Lawrence community, academic scholarship and ability to work with a variety of students and organizations. The selection committee included representatives from Student Union Activities, the Board of Class Officers, the Student Involvement and Leadership Center and the homecoming steering committee.

The award was established in 1991 to recognize one male and one female student for achievement and to add student interest to annual homecoming festivities. To be eligible, applicants must be full-time undergraduate students with an overall grade-point average of 3.0 or higher. Each finalist completed an application and participated in an interview.

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