Wayne State students receive Ron Holt Civic Engagement Awards; Powicki receives Community Service Award


Wayne State College students Mary Helms, Arlington; Sara Lundeen, Axtell and Dylan Zoucha, Malcolm; received Ron Holt Civic Engagement Awards for the 2023-24 academic year, and Wayne citizen Mike Powicki received the Community Service Engagement Award during the Dr. Ron Holt Civic Engagement Award dinner held April 25 on campus.

The annual student award was started in 2014 by Dr. Ron Holt, a 1989 graduate of Wayne State. It recognizes a graduating Wayne State senior who has served as an exemplary role model and contributed to the service ethos of the college campus and community at large. The Community Service Engagement Award honors a Wayne area community member who is civic-minded and exemplifies outstanding service on campus and in the community.

Student awards include a $500 gift, a trophy, medallion, and recognition at graduation. In addition to a trophy and medallion, Holt established the Mike Powicki Endowed Scholarship in his honor as part of his community service award.

Students must participate in a Service-Learning Program project in order to apply for the Civic Engagement Award. Each semester, hundreds of Wayne State students make a difference in the community by participating in service-learning projects, contributing nearly $250,000 each year to the region in community service.

For these services, Wayne State was recognized as a member of the national President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for five consecutive years. In 2014, Wayne State was one of only three higher education institutions in Nebraska to receive the Honor Roll with Distinction in the General Community Service category.

Mary Helms

Helms is majoring in Biology, with a minor in Public and Global Health. She was involved in a service-learning project that partnered with community members to promote social, mental, and physical health through an “Ideas and “Conversations” event.

At Wayne State, Helms has been active in the Biology Club, the Spanish Club, Christian Student Fellowship, Student Senate and Phi Kappa Phi Honors Society. She was also a co-founder and president of the Chess Club, and president of the Navigators for Admissions.

Following graduation, Helms will be interning at the Center for Molecular Dynamics Nepal to study diagnostics and public health. She will also be a Fulbright English teaching assistant in La Rioja, Spain, before pursuing her Ph.D. in Immunology. Helms, the daughter of Don and Julie Helms, hopes to use her career and life to improve global health and advocate for underserved populations.

Sara Lundeen

Lundeen is majoring in History at Wayne State, with minors in Spanish, Communication Studies, and International Studies. She participated in two service-learning courses at Wayne State. One involved collecting oral histories for preservation in Wayne State’s Conn Library, and the other entailed reviewing a professor’s upcoming textbook and piloting an event to develop a better understanding of the history and reality of living with disabilities.

At Wayne State, she is a recipient of the John G. Neihardt Scholarship, a member of Alpha Lambda Delta (freshman honor society), Phi Kappa Phi (upper-level all-disciplinary honor society), and the National Society of Leadership and Success. She has served as head of the Traditions Committee of the Philomathean President’s Honor Society, treasurer and vice president of the Spanish Club, president of Phi Alpha Theta (history honor society), and vice president and president of Pi Gamma Mu (social sciences honor society).

Lundeen is currently a 2024-25 Fulbright ETA semi-finalist for Argentina. Her love of history drives her academic aspirations. Her honors project, “Musical Movements: Songs of Nineteenth-Century Nationalism and Abolitionism,” compares and contrasts the composition and ideology of songs within nationalist and abolitionist movements in the 1800s. After graduation, Lundeen intends to pursue a career in public history while furthering her education.

Dylan Zoucha

Zoucha is majoring in Biology at Wayne State, with a minor in Injury Science. He recently accepted a scholarship to attend the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s Physical Therapy Program. Zoucha is extensively involved in various community activities, which demonstrates his commitment to community service and active engagement.

Zoucha played a significant role in an instructor’s service-learning project, contributing to the finalization and revision of a textbook, which now serves as course material for a Public and Global Health class. He also participated in formal and informal discussions within the “Ideas and Conversations” service-learning project, focusing on topics related to muscular dystrophy.

Zoucha has been a regular volunteer for the English as a Second Language courses at Wayne State, assisting local students with their education. He has also served as the president of the Physical Therapy/Occupational Therapy Club, and he has led various initiatives aimed at providing opportunities and education for future therapists.

Mike Powicki

Powicki has been the athletic director for Wayne State since 2012 and has been instrumental to improvements in athletic facilities and staffing. Powicki has spearheaded the current addition and renovation project to the Athletic and Recreation Center complex. Powicki also led the initiative to add two sports to Wayne State athletics in 2019-20 with the addition of beach volleyball and the reinstatement of the women’s golf program.

Powicki currently serves locally as president of the Wayne Area Economic Development/Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, on the Wayne Community Redevelopment Authority, and the Wayne Kiwanis Board (past-president). He previously served on boards/committees such as the NCAA Division II Athletic Directors Association Board and the NCAA Division II Central Regional Advisory Committee for baseball.

Powicki earned his bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science from the University of Iowa, and his master’s degree in Exercise and Sport Science/Sport Administration from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.

Powicki is the father of two daughters, Faith and Elle.