On Friday afternoon, a group of 25 graduate and undergraduate University of Oregon students gathered in the Ford Alumni Center ballroom during the 2019 25 Ducks award ceremony.
During the seventh annual celebration, Emerald Media Group, in association with the Student Alumni Association and the Duck Store, recognized students who exemplify leadership, innovation and passion across campus. Students are nominated for the award by their peers or faculty members.
These students, accompanied by their friends and family members, represented a range of majors and interests across campus, from anthropology and advertising to political science and psychology. The students are involved in organizations like MEChA, Greeks Go Green and Safe Ride or participate in other extracurriculars within the community.
Bill Kunerth, the president and publisher of Emerald Media Group, welcomed the crowd. He said the 25 Ducks decision committee received 60 nomination applications.
“We were all very impressed with the passion and leadership,” he said of the nominees, adding that selecting only 25 students for the award was a challenge.
Next, James Chang, director of the Duck Career Network, spoke to the audience about the uniting power of being a Duck. The Duck Career Network is part of the UO Alumni Association’s efforts to link alumni with careers and professional resources.
“We are stronger together,” he said. “Wherever you go, there are going to be Ducks.” He added that as these students graduate from the university, he hopes they will continue to represent UO as they have done during their time in school.
The students were then presented certificates. Emily Poole, outreach director for Emerald Media Group, and Jessica Cheung, director of membership for the Student Alumni Association, presented the awards and read a “fun fact” about each recipient. The recipients received their certificates and a 25 Ducks stoll to wear at graduation.
Seniors Romario Garcia Bautista and Yomaira Janet Tarula-Aranda nominated each other for the award, and both were selected. The two are best friends and roommates, Tarula-Aranda said, but they didn’t know they had nominated each other.
Tarula-Aranda said she nominated Garcia Bautista because he is a “badass that has done a lot for the Latinx community.” Garcia Bautista has been involved in seven different student organizations on campus and works to represent his Zapotec indigenous community.
“You never expect to be recognized,” said Garcia Bautista. He said the award encourages him to keep doing the work he started at UO.
Tarula-Aranda, who is an active member of MEChA, agreed. “I remember seeing this award freshman year, and I could see myself getting it,” she said. She plans to “continue the good fight doing good for my community,” in the future.