LAWRENCE — Two University of Kansas students, Jose Montoya of Los Lunas, New Mexico, and Jonnette Oakes of Topeka, are winners of the 28th annual Excellence in Community, Education and Leadership (Ex.C.E.L.) Awards. The award presentation during halftime of the KU-Oklahoma State football game Sept. 29 in the David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium concluded KU’s 106th Homecoming celebration.
Montoya, a senior majoring in sport management and journalism, is president of the Multicultural Greek Council. He is a Hawk Link Honors Program graduate and participates in the Multicultural Scholars Program. He is treasurer of the music fraternity Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, and he served as vice president of the Latino fraternity Phi Iota Alpha. He is a Marching Jayhawks rank leader and press announcer for KU women’s tennis. He served as a sports reporter and crew member for Playmakers Central on KUJH-TV and was a volunteer crew member for Rock Chalk Video. He won the Earl Falkenstien Honor Award in 2018 and has interned in Washington, D.C., for the past two summers.
Oakes, a senior majoring in political science with a minor in business, is a member of Delta Sigma Theta sorority and served as the chapter’s president and nominating chair. She was secretary of the law fraternity Phi Alpha Delta and currently serves as vice president of outreach for the National Pan-Hellenic Council. She has been a student ambassador at KU, and she assists new students as an Adidas peer mentor. She interned for the Kansas Legislature and was a desk assistant for the KU Office of Multicultural Affairs.
The Ex.C.E.L. Award provides an annual $250 scholarship to two students. Nominees were selected on the basis of leadership, effective communication skills, involvement at KU and in the Lawrence community, academic scholarship and ability to work with a variety of students and organizations.
The theme for this year’s Homecoming was “Home on the Hill.” The event was sponsored by Crown Toyota, Volkswagen and Hy-Vee, with two locations in Lawrence, and was supported by Kansas Athletics. Students and alumni participated in several activities throughout the week, including competitions, reunions and tailgates. The Alumni Association also launched KU Mentoring, a program that provides career connections and networking opportunities for students and alumni. The program is the first phase of the Jayhawk Career Network.
The annual Homecoming celebration was organized by the KU Alumni Association and a student-led steering committee, which was chaired by Allyson Bellner, a sophomore from Marion, Iowa, majoring in biology; Ashley Dunn, a Lawrence junior majoring in communication studies; Logan Hotz, a Rose Hill junior majoring in mathematics and economics; Mary Claire McLaughlin, a junior from Ballwin, Missouri, majoring in mechanical engineering and business; and Rebecca Seldin, a junior from Deerfield, Illinois, majoring in strategic communications. They worked with Alumni Association staff members Ally Stanton, director of student programs, and Keon Stowers, assistant director of student programs.
The Homecoming parade was Sept. 27 on Massachusetts Street in downtown Lawrence and featured KU alumni Rich and Judy Howard Billings of Lakewood, Colorado, as grand marshals. The Billings are benefactors of the annual Spirit of 1912 Award and participated in their 60th Homecoming celebration this year.
Other 2018 Homecoming event and award winners:
Jennifer Alderdice Homecoming Award
- Brianna Mears, a junior from Olathe majoring in strategic communications
Rich and Judy Billings Spirit of 1912 Award
- Howard Cohen, a 1979 School of Business alumnus, and his wife, Debra, from Leawood
- First place: Alpha Delta Pi, Chi Omega, Alpha Tau Omega, Beta Sigma Psi
- Second place: Kappa Delta, Sigma Kappa, Theta Chi, Delta Tau Delta
- Third place: Alpha Chi Omega, Triangle, Delta Gamma, Sigma Pi
Student Life – Chalk & Rock Competition
- Best Interpretation of Theme: Sellards Scholarship Hall
- Best Use of Space: Watkins Scholarship Hall
- Difficulty Level – Picasso: Krehbiel Scholarship Hall
- Most Spirited: The Big Event
- Best Incorporation of Organization: Women in Medicine
For more information about this year’s event, visit kualumni.org/homecoming.
About the KU Alumni Association
Through the support of members and donors, the KU Alumni Association advocates for the University of Kansas, communicates with Jayhawks in all media, recruits students and volunteers, serves the KU community and unites Jayhawks. For more information, visit kualumni.org.