Rich Harwood, scholar and guest speaker from the Harwood Institute, spoke to a group of students and faculty Tuesday at Wrather West Kentucky Museum, and celebrated the recipients of this semester’s Giving Back Engagement Recognition Awards.
The Giving Back program is in its sixth year and is held by the nonprofit leadership studies program, formerly known as youth and nonprofit leadership.
Bob Long, visiting distinguished professor of nonprofit leadership, facilitated the program and said the students are the ones who run everything, from nominating the award recipients to emceeing the event.
“When I retired here to teach, I wanted all of my classes to have a practical, applied component; not scenarios, but real life,” Long said.
Through the Giving Back Program students get the opportunity to take part in procedures that they are taught in class.
“We each nominated a student or peer based on a list of qualities,” said Abby Siegel, freshman from Shelbyville, Ky. “We then interviewed the nominee and made a presentation to the class about them. During the presentation we all rated each nominee in each of the areas.”
When the points were tallied Siegel said four candidates stood out. The budget of $1,000 was divided among the winners and a check for $250 was donated, on their behalf, to the charity of their choice.
The award winners were Sharda Bettis, Rebecca Gaunce, Alli Phillips and Evie Swanson. The qualities considered for winning were: passion, confidence, humility, trustworthiness, selflessness and their genuine and attractive personality they put forth.
Swanson, graduate student from Minnesota and resident director of Hester Residential College, chose the Minnesota Teen Challenge, a faith-based recovery program that focuses on restoring hope to people struggling with alcohol and drug addictions as her charity.
“I had a friend go through the program and the ministry changed his life and gave him a future,” Swanson said. “I feel so honored and humbled to receive this type of recognition. I have the amazing opportunity to connect with college students 24/7 and do life with them.”
Phillips, junior from Shelbyville, Ky., made her donation to Main Street Youth in Murray and said she was honored to be nominated.
“This program is incredible,” Phillips said. “I was able to give back to something dear to my heart, while being pushed to continue to be the leader I was made to be.”
Sharda Bettis, senior from Dallas, chose to have her donation made to Murray-Calloway County Need Line and talked about the benefits of receiving an award from her peers.
“I think it’s great; the program is allowing students to identify other students that are giving back in the community and on campus,” Bettis said. “It just shows that students pay attention just as much as faculty.”
Story by Lori Allen, Staff writer