Charno Awards 2021


UCM Charno Awards

The UCM Alumni Foundation recognizes one outstanding male and one outstanding female graduate each year with the George Charno Outstanding Senior Award. 

The 2023 Charno Awards and Who's Who ceremony will take place at 4 p.m. Thursday, April 13, in the Sandra Temple Elliott Ballroom.

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2022 Charno Award Recipients

Emma Cobb and Justin Cobb

Emma and Justin Cobb

The 2022 George Charno Outstanding Senior Award recipients were Emma and Justin Cobb.

Read about their accomplishments at



2021 Charno Award Recipients

Olivia Waddell and Zachary Racy

2021 Charno Winners CroppedThe 2021 George Charno Outstanding Senior Award recipients were Olivia Waddell and Zachary Racy.

Read about their accomplishments at



2020 Charno Award Recipients

Hannah Breedlove and Cole Fine

2020 Charno Award photosThe 2020 George Charno Outstanding Senior Award recipients were Hannah Breedlove and Cole Fine.

Read about their accomplishments at


In 2020, we celebrated 80 years of the Charno Awards. Congratulations to the 2020 Charno Award winners and to all of our outstanding Who's Who award recipients!

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2019 Charno Award Recipients

Katie Kim and Yuganesh Gunalan

Profiles by Laurie Luckritz, '18

Kim and GunalanThe 2019 George Charno Outstanding Senior Award recipients were Katie Kim and Yuganesh Gunalan.


2019 Charno Awardee Katie Kim

During her time at UCM, Katie Kim, '19, was instrumental in helping international students make connections with the community and adjust to life in a different country. As an international studies major, Kim alleviated challenges for new international students by spearheading two programs that assist with immediate needs such as obtaining household necessities and finding friends. Household Exchange and Friendship Families have been instrumental in the success and happiness of international students delving into life in the United States.

“Katie helped me out a lot,” says Urooj Khalid, a Pakistani student working on her computer science degree. “She explained how I’m going to be staying in the dorms, what it’s going to be like and even helped me call my parents in the first week.”

Kim came to the university as a freshman with the goal in mind to have an international student as a roommate. With the help of Dr. Michael Sekelsky, emeritus percussion instructor and former interim dean of the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, Kim was paired with Ayako Kodani, a Japanese student. Her friendships with Japanese students eventually led Kim to pursue a visit to Japan. 

Wanting to immerse herself in other cultures while at UCM, Kim took a student position in 2016 that was created to develop Friendship Families. The program connects local families to international students in order to build experiences and support cultural diversity. Under the direction of Suzy Latare, manager of Outreach, Access and Community Health with Campus Community Health, the program provides the opportunity for international students to experience Midwestern American life — while giving Warrensburg-area residents the chance to learn about other cultures.

One challenge for international students that Kim addressed during her time at UCM was transportation. Without vehicles of their own, these students often have to rely on others for trips to the grocery store, department store or airport.

“As exchange students, it’s hard to go around out of campus. Back at home, we have trains and buses, but here even going to Walmart is hard,” says Ayaka Ueyama, a Japanese international student. Many students still walk from their dorms all the way to Walmart.  

Kim also realized that international students had nowhere to leave the items they purchased in the U.S. when they returned to their home countries upon graduation. She offered to keep the items and save them for incoming students in the coming semester, eliminating the need for them to buy brand-new items that they may only use for one or two semesters. After announcing that she would accept unwanted items from students, word of mouth spread, and Kim was flooded with all sorts of things, from soccer balls to shampoo.

The 2019 Charno Award winner's experience at UCM helped shape her career path. Kim is now teaching English in Japan at Sado Island in the Niigata Prefecture. 


Yuganesh Gunalan

2019 Charno Awardee Yuganesh Gunalan

Yuganesh Gunalan, '19, an international student from Malaysia, won the 2019 Charno Award alongside Katie Kim. Out of thousands of universities he explored, Gunalan chose UCM based on its aviation program, affordability and safe location (in 2019 the campus was named the safest institution of higher education in Missouri by the Your Local Security organization). Another reason for his decision was international recruiter Chuck Petentler, who communicated regularly with Gunalan’s family to answer their questions before he came to Warrensburg.

“He’s one of the main reasons why I’m here at UCM,” Gunalan says. “He’s now a family friend because he and my dad clicked.” Gunalan’s father was an international student who became president of his university’s International Student Organization (ISO) during his time in the United States, and Gunalan made it a goal to follow in his footsteps. UCM's Graduate and International Student Services (GISS) strives to ensure that international students feel at home no matter what part of the world they are from.

“Students come here and have a great experience, and they feel at home and want to share that with their friends and family,” says the office's director, Dr. Shellie Hewitt.

Even after preparing for his time in the U.S. since he was a little boy, Gunalan still experienced a bit of culture shock. He joined Friendship Families, where Kim was working at the time.

“Life in the Midwest is different than Hollywood, so I thought Friendship Families would be good exposure for me,” Gunalan says. His host family went above and beyond for him, meeting biweekly for lunches and helping him purchase a car for his two-year stay.

“The Warrensburg community is the safest, cheapest, most reliable place to come for international students,” Gunalan says. “UCM is dedicated to student success, so they don’t leave you stranded; they work for you.”

After graduating from UCM as a 2019 Charno Award recipient, Gunalan is now pursuing a master's degree in business administration.  

Read more about Gunalan and Kim at


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Please consider contributing to the George Charno Sr. Scholarship to keep this tradition alive.

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George Charno

a Legacy of excellence

George Charno, a Kansas City attorney, established the award in 1940. Each year, two recipients — one male and one female — are chosen from students who are named to Who’s Who at the University of Central Missouri. 

Who’s Who recognizes students who are well-rounded and who have contributed to campus in a variety of ways. Selection is based on a combination of criteria, including leadership, scholarship, character, involvement in campus organizations and extracurricular activities, service to the university and involvement in one’s academic department.

To date, more than 150 students have received the prestigious George Charno Outstanding Senior Award. The two Charno Award recipients are also recognized during the spring commencement exercises.

Charno Award 1948 - Emma Godfrey1948 Charno Award Winner Emma Lee (Dixon) Godfrey

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