In the fall, the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy hosted the David Nathan Meyerson Prize for Leadership and Giving Competition, where five undergraduates competed to earn two service scholarships, and the Prize for International Service Competition, where five graduate students presented to earn one international service scholarship.
For senior Kelsey Harrington, education hits close to home. Harrington addressed why she personally became passionate about education. “My small public school experience and hearing my grandmother’s story about the power of education for her shaped who I am and helped develop my passion for learning.”
Harrington discussed the connections between poverty and education in Muncie, Indiana, illustrating that many students in her community are behind where they should be academically, which then limits them from hitting the next milestones in their lives.
“I have recently become highly fascinated with the critical role that a multifaceted approach to education has on long-term poverty alleviation. Presenting on a topic so personal to my community felt relevant and encouraged me even more about the role I can play as a civic leader,” Harrington explained.
“Winning the Meyerson Prize was an incredible honor. The most abiding lesson that I take away from my time at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy is the ability and responsibility we have as individuals to live in community and open doors to opportunities for one another. The nonprofit exploration provided by the Meyerson Prize will further equip me to do just that.”
Freshman Maren Lehman painted a picture of a young girl struggling with anorexia, then said that the young girl was her. As a survivor of an eating disorder and a campaigner to educate others about the harm of eating disorders, Lehman has hung door hangers on every door in her residence hall, and her art is hung in Portland, Indiana to raise awareness.
“My efforts and actions make a difference, but I believe I can make a larger change by partnering with a large nonprofit organization,” she said. “The National Eating Disorder Association, located in New York City, is working towards not only their vision of a world without eating disorders, but mine as well.”
Reflecting on the competition, Lehman shared these thoughts: “Sitting in the audience, I was incredibly nervous. However, once I began my speech and explained my passion for eradicating eating disorders, I knew that by advocating for individuals who are combating eating disorders, I am already making a difference.
“I’m grateful to have the opportunity to make a greater impact in society regarding body image and eating disorders through this generous prize.”
Kim Ferguson, a first-year master’s degree student, reflected on her own financial insecurity and how financial insecurity is the number one cause of homelessness in the U.S.
“In 2017, homelessness increased in the U.S. for the first time in seven years. One out of every 156 U.S. veterans is homeless. Fifteen percent of homeless individuals identify themselves as victims of domestic violence. Homelessness is relevant, homelessness is personal, and homelessness is timely,” she said.
Ferguson explained her desire to study homelessness in Greece by learning from the Emfasis Foundation and how it uses a comprehensive plan to reduce both homelessness and poverty. She wants to bring the best practices and initiatives from the Foundation to Indianapolis, where the Coalition for Homelessness Intervention and Prevention (CHIP) is working to end homelessness.
“The competition was such an inspiring opportunity! I thoroughly enjoyed listening to my fellow presenters and learning about their passion,” Ferguson said. “That’s what makes the field of philanthropy so exciting–there’s so much good and opportunity in the world and we get blend those two together.
“I was blown away when I found out I won the International Prize. I look forward to bringing my studies in Greece back to Indianapolis to help try and solve the homelessness issue that’s happening here in our city.”