Published Monday, April 24th, 2023
Katie Brezina and Carter Ossian received the Ron Holt Civic Engagement Award for 2022-23, while Sandy Brown received the inaugural Community Service Engagement Award.
Wayne State College students Katie Brezina of Bellwood and Carter Ossian of David City received Ron Holt Civic Engagement Awards for the 2022-23 academic year, and Wayne citizen Sandy Brown received the inaugural Community Service Engagement Award.
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 Sandy Brown Endowed Scholarship in her honor as part of her community service award.
Students must participate in a Service-Learning 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.
Brezina is majoring in Elementary Education with supplemental endorsements in Reading and Writing, English as a Second Language, and Early Childhood Education. She has participated in five Service-Learning projects, all of which have had an emphasis on working with local students.
At Wayne State, Brezina is involved in the Wildcat Academy of Learning and Knowledge, Phi Kappa Phi, the Student Council for Exceptional Children, and Philomatheans President’s Honorary Society. She has served in various leadership roles with the Newman Center, Cardinal Key, and the Wayne chapter of the Nebraska Education Association – Aspiring Educators in order to have a meaningful impact on the community around her.
Brezina’s honors project, “Trauma-informed Teaching: The Link Between Teacher Self-efficacy and Trauma-informed Training,” examined the perspective of northeast Nebraska teachers to determine a way to improve the workplace environment. She is currently student-teaching at Centennial Elementary School in Columbus where she works with a kindergarten class, and she will begin her teaching career at Centennial later this year.
Ossian is majoring in Secondary English Education (7-12) with endorsements in English as a Second Language (PreK-12) and Reading and Writing (7-12). Ossian’s Service-Learning project enabled him to administer Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills testing and provide professional recommendations for a second-grade student’s educational journey.
At Wayne State, Ossian has been a member of the Northeast Nebraska Teacher Academy (NENTA), a writing and communications tutor for the Holland Academic Success Center, a resident assistant in the Berry Hall dormitory, and a Navigator for Wayne State’s Admissions Office. He has served in leadership roles for the Student Senate, Philomatheans President’s Honorary Society, the Honors Club, Sigma Tau Delta (English Honor Society), the Honors Program, Phi Kappa Phi, the WeLead Program, and Presidential Scholars Program. He is also a representative for the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services’ “Choose You” campaign.
Ossian’s volunteer work in Wayne has been with the Marine Corps League, Special Olympics bowling, and the Rocky Mountain Boxing program. His published novel, “Chaotic Reasoning,” doubles as his honors project. After completing his student-teaching this semester, he aspires to teach while pursuing a graduate degree in curriculum and instruction with an emphasis in English.
From left to right: Ron Holt, Sandy Brown, and WSC President Marysz Rames
Brown is the marketing director for State Nebraska Bank & Trust, a fifth-generation family-owned bank in Wayne. She was formerly an attorney at Microsoft in Seattle, working on legal issues for MSN, Microsoft Research, and the Office of the General Counsel. She also developed and managed the Legal Internship Program at Microsoft.
Since moving to Wayne in 2010, Brown has been an active volunteer in the community, focusing her passion for the environment and children. She is chair of the Wayne Green Team, a group of volunteers focused on minimizing waste and increasing sustainable behavior. Through her leadership efforts, the Wayne Green Team has brought recycling programs for electronics, glass, and batteries to the community, diverting thousands of pounds of valuable materials from landfill. She also consults rural communities on how to start recycling programs.
Brown also served as president of the Wayne Elementary Boosters for four years and helped start events such as the Fun Run, Holiday Daughter Dance, and the Valentine Son Dance. She now coaches the Mock Trial and Science Bowl teams for Wayne High School. In 2021, the Wayne Area Chamber of Commerce presented Brown with Wayne’s Citizen of the Year honor.
Brown has served as a guest lecturer at several Wayne State forums, covering topics such as sustainability, public relations, and networking. She also served as the community representative on the Wayne State College Strategic Planning Task Force in 2019-2020.
Brown received her undergraduate degree in communications from the University of Washington and her law degree from Seattle University. Her husband, Matt Ley, is chief executive officer of State Nebraska Bank & Trust in Wayne.
Located in Wayne, Neb., Wayne State College is a proud member of the Nebraska State College System.