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Columbia Missourian

FROM READERS: Mizzou recognizes Unsung Heroes

March 2, 2012 | 4:54 p.m. CST
Winners of the MU Heroes Award pose after the banquet. The program honors students who often do not get the recognition they deserve.
Maddie Blasberg is a public relations intern with Student and Auxiliary Services wanting to spread the word about SUPB's Unsung Hero Awards.

The Student Union Programming Board hosts the annual Unsung Heroes Banquet to recognize extraordinary students who haven’t received the recognition they deserve.

Not all outstanding students stand out from the pack, at least not in the way you might expect. They often don’t get paid, show up in the news or line their walls with trophies. Instead, they quietly serve, humbly volunteer and courageously overcome challenges without ever seeking recognition.

They are the Unsung Heroes: people that fly ever so slightly beneath the radar, making a difference without making a lot of noise. Since 1998, SUPB has brought Mizzou’s modest champions into the spotlight. Recipients of the award are students who have made positive impacts but have not received due recognition for their hard work, innovation, courage and self-sacrifice.

Megan Frost-Smith, 2011 Unsung Hero Award winner, received the award for her mission trip to Honduras and her work with inner-city kids.

“It’s encouraging to be recognized,” Megan said. “Hopefully the awards will spur others on to continue to serve.”

Joe Hayes, assistant director of Missouri Student Unions and SUBP advisor, also sees the value.

“It’s a way to identify the humble folks out there,” Hayes said. “The goal is to recognize people that haven’t been recognized before.”

Students, faculty, staff and community members are invited to nominate candidates for the award. The recognition is restricted to students currently enrolled at MU, but qualifications for the award are left fairly wide open.

“Unsung Heroes is not going to recognize people who already have their due recognition,” Hayes said, other than that the judging criteria is primarily based “on feel.”

Three faculty members act as the judging panel, feeling out the nomination forms in search of candidates who have achieved something truly special. Judges are guided by several standards for evaluation, but avoid strict grading criteria that wouldn’t accommodate the unique innovation.

“Winners in the past have done a lot of service in the community,” Hayes said. “Sometimes they are students who have overcome really big obstacles in their own lives.” But more often than not, recipients have shown great initiative in creating new programs and community ventures.

Like Quentin Hall, a former Unsung Hero award winner who loves working with reptiles. Hall founded the University of Missouri Herpetological Society, a group of students interested in learning more about snakes and educating the community about reptiles with bad reputations.

“It was a special honor to be recognized for doing something that was so special to me,” Hall said.

Recipients of the award, and those who nominated them, are invited to attend a banquet on April 13. Winners and their guests will enjoy dinner and a keynote speech.

If you know someone who you think is deserving of this special recognition, please visit to fill out the nomination form. Deadline for nominations is March 23.

This story is part of a section of the Missourian called From Readers, which is dedicated to your voices and your stories. We hope you'll consider sharing. Here's how.