MAY 20, 2009

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Southeastern Student Receives National Leadership Award

Photo of Leticia Burkhalter, SE student.
Leticia Burkhalter of Southeastern Oklahoma State University was one of two college students nationwide to receive the 2009 Frank Newman Leadership Award, which honors outstanding civic leadership.

Campus Compact has selected two college students to receive the 2009 Frank Newman Leadership Award, which honors outstanding civic leadership: Leticia Burkhalter of Southeastern Oklahoma State University and Molly Hamm of Kansas State University. Both students have taken leadership roles in serving their communities while excelling academically.

Each of the winning students will receive $5,000 for school-related expenses or to support their civic work. They will also receive personal mentoring from their respective college presidents in fulfilling their scholastic, public service, and civic leadership potential during their college years.

“We had an outstanding pool of applicants this year, but even among this group, these two students stand out,” notes Pam Mutascio, program associate at Campus Compact. “We are delighted to be able to help them achieve their academic and civic goals through the award and through mentoring on the part of their dedicated university presidents.”

A Durant High School graduate, Leticia Burkhalter is a working mother of five and a full-time student at Southeastern Oklahoma State University. Majoring in special education, she says that her calling is to provide educational opportunities and to be an advocate for low-income families.

Burkhalter has founded three sustainable community-based organizations. Families Feeding Families (FFF) is a community kitchen that serves hot meals five days a week. Since opening, FFF has provided more than 275,000 meals. Funded by the United Way and community donations, the organization has one full-time employee and more than 200 volunteers. The Back Pack program provides elementary school children with nutritional, kid-friendly food that doesn’t require refrigeration or preparation. Over the past year, children have received approximately 14,000 snack packs. Mommy and Me provides guidance to new mothers on interacting appropriately with their young children to facilitate their development and refers families to any necessary community services. Through community donations, the program also provides diapers and baby formula.

President Michael Turner of Southeastern Oklahoma State University praises Burkhalter’s dedication, saying, “Ticia demonstrates civic values, civic skills and civic efficacy and commitment” that are consistent with the university’s goal of developing responsible citizenship. Burkhalter’s long-term objective is to establish a program on campus to assist low-income parents and their children. Over the next academic year, Burkhalter will meet with President Turner monthly to share knowledge and ideas related to leadership and civic engagement, and will receive guidance from campus staff on the development of the child-parent program.

Campus Compact and the Newman family established the Frank Newman Leadership Award in honor of Campus Compact co-founder Frank Newman, a scholar who exemplified a life of public service and educational leadership. The award is designed to support and recognize students with financial need who have demonstrated civic leadership through service and scholastic achievement.

Campus Compact is a coalition of more than 1,100 college and university presidents —representing some 6 million students — who are committed to fulfilling the civic purposes of higher education. As the only national association dedicated to this mission, Campus Compact is a leader in building civic engagement into campus and academic life.