You may have heard about the David Nathan Meyerson Prize for Leadership and Giving competition and the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy undergraduate winners of that competition, senior Rosie Tarlton and junior Elizabeth Williams.
You may have listened to their presentations and heard Tarlton talk about her passion for children’s health and Williams focus on poverty and urban development. You may wonder though, what are their motivations? What previous experiences caused these two young women to apply for this unique opportunity?
Tarlton has been passionate about children’s health since she was little. As a newborn, she was rushed to Riley Children’s Hospital, part of the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals system, where she received life-saving treatment. In 2015, she was selected as a Riley Champion, one of seven individuals who have overcome adversity within their medical journeys and continued to give back to the hospital. As a senior and Riley Champion in high school, Tarlton attended Jagathon—IUPUI’s dance marathon—and realized that IUPUI was where she wanted to spend her college years.
“The feeling at Jagathon and IUPUI … the entire experience literally changed my life,” she said. “I knew I wanted to come here after that.”
Tarlton arrived at IUPUI that fall, believing that she wanted to major in American Sign Language (ASL) interpreting.
“I was in a public relations first-year seminar class, and the advisor said to me, ‘Rosie, you are not in the right place,’ ” she said. “I had shared all of my experiences and pictures as a Riley Champion and she told me that IUPUI had the perfect major and introduced me to the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.”
Tarlton immediately began taking classes in the school, and realized it was the place for her.
Williams came to IUPUI through a different path, and she also didn’t begin as a philanthropic studies major.
“I grew up in Indianapolis and during my last two years of high school, I took many of my prerequisites for college at IUPUI. I initially didn’t intend on coming here, but it ended up making the most sense,” she said.
Williams knew she wanted to work in the nonprofit sector, and began in the Kelley School of Business.
“There was someone in my church who was enrolled in the Ph.D. program (at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy),” she said. “It sounded so interesting, so I met with Pamela (Clark, director of student services and admissions), and she sold me on it. I love the flexibility and the fact that the professors have real world experience in the field. I thought it would be an incredible education if I wanted to work for a nonprofit organization and so far it’s been that way.”
When the two women heard about the David Nathan Meyerson Prize, they responded in two very different ways. Williams read an email about it and decided immediately to apply.
“I enjoy writing and public speaking and thought it would be a unique opportunity to grant money to an organization,” she said.
Tarlton, however, took some convincing.
“I didn’t plan on applying originally,” she said. “Pamela encouraged me to apply and so I decided to.”
Both felt confident entering the presentation stage of the competition. Tarlton spoke about children and youth health, and the impact of the care she had received on her own life.
“I was a little nervous, but it’s also easy to speak about something I have so much passion for,” she said. “It truly came from my heart; I loved the experience.”
Williams based her presentation on the book When Helping Hurts: Alleviating Poverty without Hurting the Poor… and Ourselves” by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert. She spoke about her passion for city and urban development, affordable housing, and wanting to address the root issues of poverty.
“I was nervous, but it was also exciting to talk about something that I love,” she said.
Both expressed surprise that they won, but also were excited about the possibilities.
Williams: “I thought everyone’s presentation was excellent. I was inspired by everything the students had done. I immediately started thinking about who I wanted to grant the money to and what I wanted to do for the experience.”
Tarlton: “I thought everyone did a phenomenal job, so I was surprised and honored that I won. It wraps up my experience at the school. It represents what I’ve done here and made it all feel whole to me.”
And their plans? Williams organized a trip to The Chalmers Center in Atlanta, Georgia to meet the authors of the book she based her presentation on.
“The Chalmers Center works with other social service organizations in the area to provide holistic strategies and approaches to helping people and working on poverty,” she said.
During her visit, Williams was able to learn about the organization and sit in on two lectures on poverty in the U.S. and community development.
“One of the most impactful things I was reminded of was that, in order to be effective, I have to approach situations with humility and recognize that there is so much I still need to learn,” she said.
Williams also plans to do an internship with the Southeast Neighborhood Development, Inc. (SEND), and she has applied to volunteer at Shepherd Community Center.
“Poverty is an issue that has so many different factors. Housing is one of those factors that I hope to address,” Williams said.
Tarlton finished her term as the director of community engagement on the Jagathon executive board last weekend, and looks forward to continuing to volunteer at Riley Children’s Hospital. She tentatively plans on visiting several Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals around the country to learn about their missions and what they do.
“I’d like to learn more about organizations that support collegiate level student involvement with philanthropy, like Jagathon,” she said.
After graduation Tarlton says she wants to work in development and fundraising in an organization where she can make an impact.
“My experience (at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy) has been amazing,” she said. “It has truly given me so many opportunities that I don’t think I would have gotten anywhere else.”
Abby Rolland is the blog content coordinator for the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.