This year’s Wardian Student Leadership Award for Clinical Mental Health goes to Alexander Day who was voted such by his peers and confirmed by his faculty.

I know of no one who deserves it more.

Alexander hails from the Midwest and came to us a young man with self-identified areas of growth and the motivation to achieve great things.  And that he did.

While it is clear that Alexander leaves us a man of greater wisdom and confidence and a counselor with sharpened skills as he heads to University of Reno to enter a top-notch doctoral program, this is not my focus today as these are small accomplishments compared to what he truly did while at Gonzaga.

What he did was lead a cohort group in a manner so that each member had an opportunity to examine self and grow within a relationship of care.  This years’ graduating class certainly had their share of bumps and bruises…but none of them at Alexander’s hand.  Indeed, Alexander was a steady rock in their storms and a celebrator of their successes.

Let me read a bit of what his cohort-mates had to say about him:

No one opened themselves up to this experience more than Alexander. 

He is the kindest, most gentle soul, and would literally give you the shirt off of his back if you allowed him to. 

His work ethic is astounding.  What he has accomplished in regards to extra work while in the program is nothing short of remarkable. 

He is a light in our entire cohort.  We are lucky to call him friend…and for some of us, family. 

Alexander embodies al the qualities that that make a compassionate leader.

He provided unparalleled support, love, kindness, and generosity to his fellow students over the past two years that went above and beyond anything anyone would have reasonably expected form a graduate student—so much, in fact, that he may have felt stretched in a thousand different directions (sorry, buddy…and thank you).

This program and our cohort are so thankful for his contributions to our personal and professional growth.  He is a student, a friend, and soon-to-be full-fledged counselor that leads from his head and his heart—and we are all the better for it.

Alexander is a valued leader because of his genuine, beautiful spirit. 

Alexander is a leader in every aspect of his life, in the most authentic way.  The person you see now is the person he’s always been. Honest, kind, with the heart of a helper.

He has a quiet power about him, and is as humble as they come.  I look up to and admire him every single day.

All throughout our time in the program, the concept of growth is preached to us. We are encouraged to step out of our comfort zones and challenged to be better than we were when we first started. Obviously, self-growth can be uncomfortable and unpleasant at times. For me personally, I found it easier at times to simply be content without challenging myself to be introspective and grow. Alexander was never once satisfied with contentment during his time here at the program. He was constantly challenging himself to grow and improve as a professional, all the while encouraging his classmates to step out of their comfort zones as well. He fully bought into the mission of the program and I feel he truly embodies what this program is. He genuinely cares about others, is the nicest human I’ve ever met, and brings an energy to the profession and classroom that is unprecedented. Needless to say, I’m incredibly proud of him and I feel nobody deserves this award more than him! Yay Alexander!

Having traveled pretty much literally around the world with him and having witnessed him dancing in the streets and on stage (via video…don’t ask), having presented professionally with him in Bangkok, and having taught with him all semester, I humbly agree with his cohort-mates. Alexander is a student who has left an indelible mark…he has helped me be a better professor, counselor, and human. Keep leading in your loving, kind, and quiet way, Alexander, the world needs more you.