UND’s Kristi Okerlund to receive excellence in advising from national honor society this weekend in Phoenix


David L. Dodds

Document Type


Publication Date



UND’s Kristi Okerlund to receive excellence in advising from national honor society this weekend in Phoenix

UND’s Kristi Okerlund is well known for her generosity.

When good things happen to her, she’s quick to deflect credit to others. That’s why her response to being named a recipient of The Excellence in Advising Award by the National Mortar Board is so fitting.

“I really don’t see myself as extraordinary,” Okerlund said. “I see myself as a regular person giving back to an organization that means a great deal to me on a campus I love.”

Okerlund, who works in UND’s Student Involvement & Leadership office, was recently in Phoenix at the National Mortar Board Conference to receive the award, which is given annually to chapter advisors who have demonstrated a commitment to the purpose of Mortar Board and who have gone above and beyond in their work. The award was handed out Saturday, Aug. 1.

Okerlund, a native of Fargo, has been a part of UND’s Quo Vadis Mortar Board Chapter since 2003, and was an active member for two years. She moved on to work as a graduate student advisor from 2005-2007. She became a co-advisor in 2007, and then took over as sole advisor two years later ? it’s a role she still holds today.

“I want UND students initiated into Mortar Board to have the same experience that I had as an undergraduate student,” Okerlund said.

The Quo Vadis Chapter of Mortar Board at UND is probably most recognized for the annual Turkey Basket Drive that it leads each year around Thanksgiving. Since 1979, the drive has delivered thousands of traditional holiday meals to underprivileged Grand Forks area families.

“I love volunteering in our community and the connection between the Greater Grand Forks community and the Quo Vadis Chapter of Mortar Board at UND is instrumental as the students plan and execute the Turkey Basket Drive each year,” Okerlund said. “Mortar Board members work with many facets of our community in order to successfully carry out the Turkey Basket Drive.”

Founded in 1918, Mortar Board is a national honor society that recognizes college seniors for superior achievement in scholarship, leadership and service. A select number of students on each campus are invited to join the organization, which provides opportunities for leadership development, promotes service to colleges and universities and encourages lifelong contributions to the global community.

Since Mortar Board's founding, more than 250,000 members have held the honor of being initiated at 230 chartered chapters across the nation.

Okerlund says that most recipients of The Excellence in Advising Award have served as chapter advisors for several decades, and in the past while attending national conferences, she often found herself in awe of their fascinating careers and stories.

“I am grateful to all of the students I have the opportunity to work with," Okerlund said. "They have shaped me as an advisor and I would not be where I am today without them.”

Cassie Gerhardt, UND assistant dean of students and interim director of the Memorial Union, said that UND’s Mortar Board Chapter would not have been as successful as it has been without Okerlund.

“This award is much deserved and is a testament to Kristi’s hard work and service to students,” Gerhardt said. “It should be noted that advising Mortar Board is outside of Kristi’s positional job description and expectations, so her service to Mortar Board is truly an example of going above and beyond in service to UND and our students.”

David Dodds University & Public Affairs writer

This document is currently not available here.