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Nicholls Unity Gala honors staff, students

THIBODAUX – Black History Month at Nicholls State University wrapped up Thursday, Feb. 26, with the 3rd Annual Unity Gala. Conducted in the Cotillion Ballroom of the Bollinger Memorial Student Union, the event honored a university staff member and several students for excellence.

Tommy Ponson (left), director of parking services and judicial affairs at Nicholls State University, receives the 2009 Staff Unity Achievement Award from Dr. Rushton Johnson, dean of student life, at the 3rd Annual Unity Gala. The ceremony was conducted Thursday, Feb. 26, in the Cotillion Ballroom of the Bollinger Memorial Student Union.

Tommy Ponson (left), director of parking services and judicial affairs at Nicholls State University, receives the 2009 Staff Unity Achievement Award from Dr. Rushton Johnson, dean of student life, at the 3rd Annual Unity Gala. The ceremony was conducted Thursday, Feb. 26, in the Cotillion Ballroom of the Bollinger Memorial Student Union.

“The gala enables students of different backgrounds to celebrate unity, and it allows students and faculty who have been doing excellent work for our campus to be recognized and honored,” said Jonathan Kerry, director of student rights and grievances and president of Student Educators and Leaders.

“We want the student body to know that all good deeds in the community and campus are noticed – and that we offer our utmost respect and appreciation.”

Ten-year Nicholls veteran Tommy Ponson, director of parking services and judicial affairs, received the 2009 Staff Unity Achievement Award for his commitment to advancing the quality of student life. Ponson serves on the Response and Review Team and the Anti Discrimination Committee at Nicholls. He has also been active with the Student Programming Association and Office of Residence Life – along with Greek advising and faculty advising.

“He has served as a mentor for many students, including myself,” Alex Barnes, president of the Student Government Association, said. “His door is always open.”

Several students were honored as well at the Unity Gala. Winners of the Student Unity Achievement Award included Gael Cleophat, a computer information systems senior; Paul Cook, a mass communication junior; Ugo Ezema, a pre-med biology senior; Whitley Garrison, a nursing sophomore; Sally Gilfour, an education senior; Marquita Hill, a family and consumer science senior; and Kentura Kemp, a culinary arts junior.

An additional award for diversity achievement was presented to Phong Truong, an accounting senior.

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