Lerner Student Reaghan Vasilenko Earns UD’s Seitz Award

This article, written by Jessica Downey, Assistant Communications Manager, Division of Student Life, originally appeared in the August 4 edition of UDaily and is reprinted with permission.

Established in 1954, the Seitz Award recognizes a University of Delaware first-year or sophomore student in good academic and disciplinary standing who exemplifies the “We Are Blue Hen” values of respect, openness, innovation, engagement and mentorship. Award winners are granted $1,500.

The most recent recipient is Reaghan Vasilenko, a student who admitted that she likes to stay busy. The rising junior is a marketing and management double major with a business leadership concentration with minors in professional sales and sales management, as well as theatre studies. She’s also the director of marketing and design for the UD Programming Board (“The Crew”) and the president of the Phi Chi Theta co-ed business fraternity.

“I am somebody who enjoys being very involved in everything that I do, and it can be very taxing on me, but receiving this award has really validated me and shown me that my efforts are being recognized,” said Vasilenko. “This has been an incredibly fulfilling and reassuring experience.”

Vasilenko’s contributions were triply recognized this year; she was nominated by three different people from the UD Programming Board, including two fellow e-board members and her former adviser.

“It’s such an honor to be nominated by my peers for this award,” she said. “I cannot thank them enough for all of the love and support they have given me throughout my time at UD. They are all truly incredible people, so their nomination means a lot to me.”

One of her nominators — recent UD graduate Annanya Venkataraman — said Vasilenko embodies all of the “We Are Blue Hens” values and inspires others to do the same by supporting and acting as a mentor in her various leadership roles.

“I nominated Reaghan because of her unwavering commitment and dedication to the community,” Venkataraman said. “In every endeavor, she demonstrates an exceptional level of commitment and always goes above and beyond to help. She treats all her peers with utmost respect and has a lot of great ideas that I’m sure will come to fruition during her time at UD.”

In addition to the positive influence of her nominators, Vasilenko named her parents as her biggest role models.

“They are both very passionate and motivated people in their own lives and work and I think growing up around that has really influenced me to want to be the same way,” she said.

After putting the $1,500 award money back into the cost of her education, Vasilenko is looking ahead to graduation and her future career.

“The dream is to pursue a career in the entertainment marketing industry at a company like NBC, Disney or something of that nature,” she said.

Vasilenko may have a leg up on other students in her field when it comes to landing a job at Disney. Last year, Vasilenko and her father competed on the Disney+ show Best in Snow where they worked with expert ice carvers to create larger than life snow sculptures based on characters and scenes from Pixar, Marvel, Disney, The Muppets and more. (Catch her in the red snowsuit representing Team Coco’s Carvers in the show’s official trailer!)

“Seeing behind the scenes of that process and getting to witness the business aspects firsthand really resonated with me and made me want to hone in on that passion for the process,” she said.

From her studies to her clubs and stint on reality television, it’s no surprise that Vasilenko identifies with the engagement aspect of the “We Are Blue Hen” values the most. It reads: “We will take an active role in the life of the University, both as learners and contributing community members. We know that true growth comes from being active and engaged participants in our experiences.”

Vasilenko said, “I am a firm believer of the idea that college is the four years you get to explore before you’re stuck doing the same thing for the rest of your life. People call me crazy when they see my schedule and take note of all my commitments and extensive campus participation, but I’m truly just embracing the college spirit that surrounds me for the limited time I will be here.”

After receiving this award, Vasilenko encourages her fellow students to step outside of their comfort zone in order to make the most of their own college experience.

“It’s a very human sensation to feel awkward about trying anything new or doing anything alone. I have felt it myself,” she said. “You can only make a change and embrace the process once you get past that fear. Go out and do it all. Make the connections, join the club, pitch the idea. You never know what kind of impact you can have until you try.”

About the award

The fund for the George and Margaret Collins Seitz Award was established in 1954 at UD by Margaret Seitz to honor the memory of her mother and father. This annual recognition, which includes a $1,500 award, is presented to a first-year or second-year student who exemplifies outstanding character by demonstrating and encouraging in others the We Are Blue Hen values of respect, openness, innovation, engagement and mentorship. Nominations are collected through the end of March. For more information, please visit the award website, administered by UD’s Division of Student Life.

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