Palmer Award Finalist: Kimberly Elmendorf

071D8A58-A682-4D47-8073-B94CB1AF6270Now that we’ve announced this year’s Palmer Award recipient, TahLea Wright, we are excited to share more LeaderShape goodness by highlighting the finalists for this year’s award. We have three Institute graduates to tell you about, starting with Kimberly Elmendorf from the University of Central Oklahoma.

Kimberly cares deeply about suicide prevention and campus sexual assault prevention. And she has demonstrated a commitment to her vision in so many ways this past year.

As a volunteer with the Crisis Textline, Kimberly participated in 34 hours of training and now serves as a Crisis Counselor for the organization. Through this training, she has learned how to talk with a person who is feeling suicidal, assess their risk, and connect them to resources that will help them where they are at in their lives.

At UCO, Kimberly is a Peer Health Leader. In this role, Kimberly has contributed to a weeklong sexual assault prevention campaign, helped to provide events that teach students to recognize the signs of suicide,  promoted counseling as a mental health tool, and is working to break the stigma of getting help.

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Kimberly is also a part of the Institute of Hope. As a member of this organization, Kimberly puts on programs to provide hope to sexual assault survivors, such as a sponsoring a panel of that included their title IX coordinator, an employee from the YWCA, and two survivors. The program provided a safe space to have open and honest discussion with the option to anonymously text questions to the panel.

Please join us in thanking Kimberly for the work she has done on her vision and in the areas of suicide prevention and campus sexual assault prevention so far.

Reading & Lifelong Learning

At LeaderShape we believe in the power (and responsibility) of being a lifelong learner. And reading is a particularly meaningful way to expand our knowledge by exposing us to perspectives, ideas, and experiences beyond our current understanding.

National Book Month has inspired us to reflect on what we have learned from our own experiences reading books – and we want to share those lessons with you! Is there anything below that you relate to? What have books taught you?

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Photo by Jaredd Craig on Unsplash

Mary Kate Kaufman
Books have taught me to think creatively and have provided me a new perspective on the world. They have given me my own personal space where I can wind down and take time for myself. It has taught me so many life lessons and overall how to live a happy life.

Sarah Kelsick
I have read many books about something I don’t know about or I have a strong opinion about and have seen it from another side. Books have taught me to look deeper and be more understanding.

Abby Prince
What have books taught me? As a lifelong reader, I can’t recall a day that I didn’t make time to read, even if just for 5 minutes. Books have taught me the value of habits and making time each day for what’s important. Books have also taught me that even when you don’t seem to have anything in common with the characters from the outset, you are very likely to relate to them throughout the course of the book. I think of Francie from A Tree Grows in Brooklyn; Liesel from The Book Thief; Mark Watney from The Martian; or Amar from A Place for Us. Their lives in Williamsburg, Nazi Germany, Mars, and California are nothing like mine. Yet I feel forever connected to them through their loves, plights, ideals, and dreams. And isn’t it like that in our real lives? When we can find what we have in common with the people we meet, it’s easier to understand them and perhaps even like them.

Sundas Shahid
Books have and continued to stretch my perspective and worldview. They allow me to simply be part of the stories, history, and in places that in realty would be impossible for me to be part of. Books not only deepen my knowledge around certain topics but also transport me to that world.

Vernon Wall
I rarely read for pleasure. I read to be a better educator. I love hearing about cutting edge research and theories that help us better understand the college student experience. I do like narratives though where I can hear of someone’s life experience.

Kristen Young
How to escape my current reality and come back refreshed and ready to face the day.
That everyone’s lived experiences are different and there is great value in truly listening to the story of another person.
That crying can bring healing.
That laughter is good for the soul.

2019 Palmer Award Winner

What a joy it is to announce the recipient of this year’s Palmer Award! Please meet and congratulate TahLea Wright!IMG_0616 2

TahLea is a student at Moravian College (PA) and attended the 2018 national session of the Institute in Massachusetts. TahLea’s vision work in the year that has passed since she attended the Institute has focused primarily on empowering students, with special attention to young women of color, to step into leadership and advocacy.

TahLea has engaged in her work on the local level as a Summer Youth Program Coordinator in 2018 and 2019 through the Volunteer Center of the Lehigh Valley with the responsibility of co-creating a leadership and service program for area high school students. In 2018, the focus of the program was Homelessness and Food Insecurity in the Lehigh Valley and TahLea engaged the participants in the program through interactive activities, guest speakers from local non-profit organizations, leadership exercises, and a service project. This program lead to the creation of the Youth Volunteer Council at her college. The mission of this council is to be the premier resource that coordinators and connects a diverse culture of youth to community service within the Greater Lehigh Valley. In 2019, the summer program included a World Café event, giving the students the opportunity to be in round table conversations with non-profit representatives from five different organizations. For a glimpse of how the program unfolded, take a look at a video that TahLea created about the week.

Through the Office for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Moravian College, TahLea had the opportunity to serve as a THRIVE Peer Mentor. Not only did she support her two mentees transition to college and through their first year of college, she was there for them when they applied to serve as mentors themselves. Good news – they were both selected!

IMG_10211Working on the goLEAD program has given TahLea valuable experience toward her longer-term goal of creating a national after school program pairing elementary and middle school students with high school and college student mentors. And her involvement as a THRIVE Peer Mentor has provided a direct line to young women of color, a community that TahLea cares deeply about. TahLea is also Vice President of Gamma Sigma Sigma, a national all-inclusive service sorority, and was named the Outstanding Sophomore Leader of the Year through Omicon Delta Kappa.

Ultimately TahLea wants people to know that they can be successful, feel cared for and loved for who they are, and to believe that they can make a difference as leaders and advocates. We can’t wait to see what is next for TahLea and her vision work!

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