Five Southeast Students Receive President’s Spirit of Southeast Award


Five Southeast Missouri State University students were honored with the President’s Spirit of Southeast awards during the 2021 Student Life and Leadership Awards program.

Recipients of this award are selected by Southeast President Carlos Vargas. Recipients must demonstrate integrity, leadership and involvement on- and off-campus, encourage others to get involved and embody the best of Southeast. Students must have a minimum 3.0 grade-point average and have completed at least 60 credit hours.

“I am pleased to announce the five students that I have selected for this award, as they have been outstanding leaders during their years at Southeast and have demonstrated the high standards of the Spirit of Southeast Award,” Vargas said. “These five students truly are the Spirit of Southeast. They exemplify the leadership qualities we hope all students will strive to achieve, and their contributions assist in making Southeast an outstanding public, comprehensive university.”

This year’s President’s Spirit of Southeast Award winners are:

President Carlos Vargas and Kate Appleman

Kate Appleman of Jackson, Missouri, is a senior biomedical sciences major with minors in Spanish, chemistry and physics. She is a member of the Jane Stephens Honors Program, where she has served on the Honors Council and has coordinated and contributed to the Student Research Conference. She has conducted grant-winning student research projects with the Department of Engineering and Technology that focus on the heart and examine nanoparticles. She is vice president of Alpha Delta Pi sorority; president of Iota Chi, the Order of Omega National Greek Honor Society and the Red Cross Club; and Student Government senator representing the College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. She is a volunteer for the Cape Girardeau County Public Health Department and the American Red Cross, and helped organize several blood donation clinics on campus, including Greek Week’s annual blood drive. She is a Presidential Ambassador and has bee accepted into the President’s Leadership Academy Class of 2021. She has a near-perfect GPA of 3.929 and plans to graduate in May 2022.

Morgan Kaplan and President Carlos Vargas

Morgan Kaplan of Hawthorne Woods, Illinois, is a Spring 2021 graduate earning a Bachelor of Science in social work and a Bachelor of Arts in global studies with a concentration in Hispanic Culture and a minor in Spanish. Through Southeast, she participated in study abroad programs to Peru, Germany and Austria. She was a member of Student Government, Residence Hall Association, and Southeast Leadership Programs. Morgan also served as a Student Ambassador, Opening Week Leader, and Resident Assistant. She was a First-Year Leadership Program graduate, Emerging Leaders Program graduate and facilitator, and President’s Leadership Academy graduate. She was a Presidential Ambassador; president of the Student Social Work Organization, which grew in membership and activity during her tenure; and member of Alpha Delta Pi sorority and the Panhellenic Council.

President Carlos Vargas and Maja Lundell

Maja Lundell of Stockholm, Sweden, is a Spring 2021 graduate earning a Bachelor of Science in microbiology, cellular and molecular biology, and biotechnology, boasting a perfect 4.0 GPA. As captain of the tennis team her junior and senior years, she demonstrated her leadership skills by helping the freshman adjust to college life and setting a great example of work ethic on and off the court. Being an international student, she made a true effort to integrate into the local community, volunteering for several organizations, including the Feed My Starving Children program. This past fall, she and the tennis team led a tennis clinic for children who are blind or visually impaired. She is a President’s Leadership Academy graduate, and through the Southeast Success Project, had the opportunity to address the Cape Girardeau City Council. Lundell was a three-time recipient of the Ohio Valley Conference Academic Medal of Honor.

President Carlos Vargas and Anna Ockel

Anna Ockel of Campbell, Missouri, is a Spring 2021 graduate earning a Bachelor of Science in political science with minors in criminology and sociology. She was a member of the Jane Stephens Honors Program, with a  3.81 GPA. She was president of the Student Activities Council, and served in various capacities for Greek Life, SEMO Quiz Bowl, SEMO College Republicans and the Homecoming Planning Committee. She was a member of the All-University Judicial Board, where she acted with fairness and impartiality during hearings. She also served as an Orientation Leader, Student Ambassador and CampRedhawk Nest Leader. Ockel has been accepted by the St. Louis University School of Law beginning this fall.

Anthony Shepard and President Carlos Vargas

Anthony Shepard of St. Louis, Missouri, is a Spring 2021 graduate earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts in musical theatre with a 3.452 GPA. His work onstage included outstanding performances in The Jeanine Larson Dobbins Conservatory of Theatre and Dance productions of “Ain’t Misbehavin,” “Our Town,” “A Raisin in the Sun,” “Othello,” “9 to 5” and “Unlimited.” He was emcee and a performer in the 2021 Bridges Diversity Showcase and served as a student ambassador for the University’s MLK (Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.) Celebration. His was a founding member of the Holland College Diversity and Inclusion Committee. He was president of Alpha Psi Omega; member of the Black Mask Theatre Honor Society and the Blacklight choral group; and 2019 Homecoming Man of the Year finalist.