JONESBORO — Rashad Kirksey of West Helena was announced as the recipient of the R.E. Lee Wilson Award at a special ceremony Thursday evening at the Cooper Alumni Center at Arkansas State University. The Wilson Award is the highest honor an A-State student can receive.
Perry Wilson of Little Rock, the award namesake’s great-great-grandson, joined the ceremony online to announce Kirksey as the recipient.
“I truly feel honored to be seen as a leader and help serve others,” said Kirksey. “I’m grateful to God but all of my years at A-State have been how can I help give back to others and help students on their journey as well. I feel as if I’ve completed my goal here at A-State and I now can move on."
Kirksey was one of six exceptional students selected at Distinguished Service Award (DSA) winners. The Wilson Award and DSA winners were introduced and recognized during the student honors awards ceremony.
This was the culminating event of Convocation of Scholars at A-State, an annual celebration somewhat curtailed because of the national pandemic.
Kirksey will graduate in May with a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science with a 3.80 grade point average. He has a lengthy list of academic and scholastic achievements, including receiving the Debbye Turner, Arkansas Promise, and Arkansas Challenge scholarships. He also was awarded the Price and Sarah Gardner pre-law, Anderson Neal Jr. and Marietha Goodwin Neal, and the Linual Cameron scholarships.
He is a consistent member of the Chancellor’s and Deans Lists. During summer 2020, Kirksey served as a law fellow for the Public Policy and International Relations (PPIA) at the University of California-Berkeley, and during the 2019 fall semester, he drafted and defended a Supreme Court appellate brief in regard to the fourth amendment search and seizure provisions.
He is active in campus government and, after fulfilling service as a freshman and junior senator, he was elected to serve as president of the Student Government Association this academic year. He has worked on the Student Activities Board, the Student Philanthropy Council, the Pre-Law Club, and is an active participant in the Black Student Association, Brother2Brother, and NAACP community outreach whose top priority this year was voter registration. A member of the 2020-21 Homecoming Court, Kirksey is also the chapter president for Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity at A-State.
R.E. Lee Wilson, a Mississippi County planter and businessman, served on the institution's Board of Trustees from 1917 until his death in 1933. The annual Wilson Award presentation began the following year, more than eight decades ago.
In addition to Kirksey, the five other DSAs, recognized for leadership, scholarship and citizenship, include Brenna Cannon of Jonesboro; Megan Gunnels of Conway; Sarah Hall of Jonesboro; Bailey McAlexander of Jonesboro; and Imani Udoumana of Nashville, Tenn.
Faculty, staff and advisers to student organizations, and other members of the campus community submit nominations for the prestigious awards.
All of the nominees have achieved excellent academic records and provided countless hours of service to the community, their classmates, campus organizations, their departments and colleges, and to Arkansas State University. A committee comprised of students, faculty, staff and previous Wilson Award recipients makes the final selection.
The DSAs and Wilson Award winner also worked alongside the A-State Alumni Association to help create the Emerging Young Alumni Award, recognizing recipients for their professional accomplishments and continued engagement with the university.
The names of Wilson Award winners are permanently listed in a prominent display outside Centennial Hall in the Carl R. Reng Student Union. Previous winners of the award joined to form the Wilson Fellows, a chapter within the A-State Alumni Association.
Our mission is to enhance students' understanding of the diversity of approaches to knowledge; to enhance an awareness and appreciation of their intellectual heritage; to expand their understanding of government and cultures; to facilitate work and political concepts at the formal operational level of reasoning, to develop generalizations, to build theory and apply it to problem solving; to increase their tolerance of differences and appreciation for ethical values; and to instill in them a desire for lifelong learning and citizen engagement.
The peer-reviewed journal Politics & Policy recently published an article by Dr. Rollin F. Tusalem, associate professor of political science, "State Regulation of Religion and the Quality of Governance." Tusalem examines how state authorities' regulation of religion severely harms the quality of governance, especially dimensions involving political accountability, corruption, and the rule of law. He concluded secular states are more likely to have better governance. The article is available on the journal's website.