First of all, we received a record number of applications for the Palmer Award. Secondly, and most importantly, the quality of the applications was truly outstanding. Graduates of The LeaderShape Institute are really working to make an impact on the world. Some of the areas that these folks are working on include ridding the world of hunger, equal representation for the LGBT community, safety from abuse for children, exposing communities to local history, providing musical instruction to youth, and improving the quality of life for senior citizens through the use of animal assisted therapy. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.
Our three recipients are also making their mark by working diligently towards their visions and a just, caring, thriving world. Here is a little bit about each of them.
Justine Falcone, Rollins College
What she's working towards: improving medical care for underprivileged people here and abroad.
Actions she has taken: monthly visits to a nursing home where the elderly with minimal financial income can stay when they are no longer able to care for themselves, medical equipment drives that provide for people below the poverty line, and volunteering at a hospital in Ghana, Africa.
From her application: "Volunteering in Africa opened my eyes to a world I never knew existed, and my time at the hospital further sparked my passion and desire for a life of medicine."
Irma Fernandez, St. Edward's University
What she's working towards: provide clothing, in the form of t-shirts, to people in need around the country and world.
Actions she has taken: created the organization "Operation T", collected and donated thousands of t-shirts to those in need, including an orphanage in Bangladore, India.
From her application: "Operation T's intention is to give others something to call their own, even if it is something as simple as a t-shirt. But the biggest intention is to inspire people to volunteer on their own in whatever way they can."
Ryan Kirlin, Johns Hopkins University
What he's working towards: sound bodies and minds through a balanced diet
Actions he has taken: held educational workshops in local schools addressing heart health, diabetes, exercise, nutritional basics, and meal planning for both students and parents independently, partnered with Johns Hopkins "Campus Kitchen" club to provide healthy snack alternatives to students, and worked with the Center for Social Concern to obtain additional funding.
From his application: "I hope for children to understand the far-reaching effects of a proper diet and appreciate the empowering nature of a balanced meal. I look forward to lifestyles in which healthy eating is the norm (not associated with misconceptions, stigmas, and taboos) and I also dream that locally grown food will one day be accessible to all."
Please join me in congratulating our recipients and in encouraging them, as well as all of our LeaderShape community members, to keep up the good work. The world needs you!