Leticia “Ticia” Burkhalter of Southeastern Oklahoma State University has been selected by Campus Compact to receive the 2009 Frank Newman Leadership Award, which honors outstanding civic leadership. Burkhalter is one of two students in the nation to receive the award.
Burkhalter, along with Molly Hamm of Kansas State University, will each 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.
“I want to congratulate Leticia for receiving such a prestigious honor,” said Chancellor Glen D. Johnson. “Her civic leadership in her community is a great example of the impact that can be made by one person.”
“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.”
Burkhalter is a working mother of five and a full-time student at Southeastern. 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 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 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 Mommy and Me 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 colleges and universities that develops college students’ awareness and skills in civic responsibility through service learning, community service and civic engagement. Thirty-four states have Campus Compact offices. In Oklahoma, Campus Compact was formed in 2000 and currently has 33 public and private colleges and universities that participate.