Holland Newton · August 29, 2008
At its opening academic ceremony today, Southern Virginia University president Rodney K. Smith announced the recipients of the Ed and Cheiko Okazaki Distinguished Service Award.
The award, which was inaugurated last year, is bestowed at the university’s convocation by surprise announcement. Steve Baldridge, Shirley Cash and Kayla Carter received this year’s awards.
“Each year, through the Ed and Chieko Okazaki Distinguished Service Award, we honor a member of our faculty, our staff, and our student body for exemplary leadership and service.” Smith said. “Today, we recognize three leader-servants and thank them for the goodness of their service and the greatness of their example.”
Steve Baldridge is an associate professor of politics and education. After completing his undergraduate work at Washington & Lee, he earned a law degree and a Ph.D. in educational leadership at Brigham Young University. He is Shenandoah regional chair for the Virginia School Board Association (VSBA), and he serves on the board of directors for the VSBA, he is chair for board of directors of the Jackson River Governors School, he is a member of the Buena Vista School Board, a member of the Perry McCluer Middle School parent advisory committee, a member of Enderly Heights Elementary School PTA, and he serves diligently as the Scoutmaster in a Buena Vista Boy Scout troop.
“In addition to his exemplary service to students as a trusted teacher and mentor, Steve also tirelessly serves the local community in myriad ways,” said Paul Edwards, Southern Virginia’s executive vice president and provost. “We are blessed as an institution and community to have him with us.”
Shirley Cash has worked in the housekeeping department at Southern Virginia University for 22 years. She has been involved in cleaning all on-campus and off-campus facilities. Her main responsibility this year is Main Hall (2nd, 3rd, and 4th floors and the lobby area). She is married to John Cash, who works in the maintenance department at SVU, and she has a daughter, Missy, who also works at SVU in the housekeeping department.
“In my time at Southern Virginia, I have repeatedly been blessed to observe Shirley smiling at just the right time,” Smith said. “She is quiet in her service, but it is also clear from her interaction with students, staff and faculty that she serves us all with each swish of her vacuum and each time she attends to a detail to bless our lives.”
Kayla Carter is the vice president for campus programming in the Southern Virginia University Student Association. She is a junior from Pascagoula, Mississippi, studying liberal arts. In past semesters she served as an orientation leader, resident assistant and as a member of the activities committee. She also has recently accepted the lay position of Relief Society president in her student congregation of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“Kayla is the kind of person who does everything and does so with a smile on her face,” said Joe Bouchelle, associate dean of students. “Her tireless efforts on behalf of the university and the community are truly of the highest caliber. It is her charming demeanor which helps make whatever she is involved in a better event, whichever person she greets a happier one, and whatever day it is a brighter one.”
The award is named in honor of Ed and Chieko Okazaki. Ed was a Japanese-American who served this country in a highly decorated unit of the U.S. Army during WWII, and his wife, Chieko is an author and educator who served as first counselor Relief Society General Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1990-97.