Palmer Award Finalists: Silvia Araoz

As we continue with our Palmer Award finalist highlights, we are pleased to introduce you to Silvia Araoz. Silvia is from Salt Lake Community College and participated in the Latinx session of the Institute in San Antonio, Texas.

Silvia’s vision is to ensure that low income populations who are struggling with immigration issues have confidential and convenient access to legal issues. One of the ways in which Silvia is working toward her vision is through the Salt Lake City Mexican Consulate, where works in the Education Window helping immigrants obtain information on how to get education to improve their lives. She has also given presentations about the requirements to become an American citizen at local churches and libraries.

Mariflor Medina, a friend who also attended the Institute, is partnering with Silvia on this work as well. Both Silvia and Mariflor hold a paralegal certificate and are working toward their degrees in social work. Together they have a created a business plan to create a mobile legal aid resource and are actively meeting with community members for coaching and support. With access to a vehicle such as a van or a bus, Silvia and Mariflor will have the ability to connect with immigrants in person throughout Utah and provide information on American citizenship, the fight to vote, education, legal aid, and more!

It is clear to see that Silvia and Mariflor are staying in action when it comes to their vision for the Latinx community, and we are eager to see where their work goes from here.

You can learn more about  this year’s Palmer Award recipient TahLea Wright here.

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.

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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