Wittenberg student Amanda Kot, class of 2024 from Mogadore, Ohio, recently received the 2023 Charles J. Ping Student Service Award sponsored by Ohio Campus Compact, a nonprofit membership organization of 40 Ohio colleges and universities, which serves to promote community service initiatives on campuses. Kot, who was among 13 statewide recipients, was officially recognized at this year’s Honors Convocation, April 14 (Kot, right in photo, receives award from Rachel Scherzer, assistant director of the Hagen Center for Civic and Urban Engagement).
The annual award is presented in recognition of outstanding leadership and ability to meet the needs of the community by working in partnership with members of the community.
“Amanda stood out for her ability to independently maintain lasting partnerships with off-campus partners and her commitment to equal access to education,” Wittenberg President Michael Frandsen said in his nominating letter. “Amanda has independently built relationships with key nonprofit leaders working in education, mental health, and youth services. Last semester, she was a recipient of Student Senate’s ‘Build a Better Wittenberg’ fund, which she used to plan and execute a Youth Summit on campus in collaboration with leaders from Clark County Prevention Services and Wellspring Youth Prevention Education.”
Kot, an Educational Studies and Spanish double major pursuing minors in women’s studies and justice, law, and public policy, has also translated materials for English Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) at Springfield High School and spent last summer participating in the Summer Civic Internship program through Wittenberg’s Susan Hirt Hagen Center for Civic and Urban Engagement. Through the program, Kot served as a youth camp intern with Springfield Promise Neighborhood.
“I came to a deeper understanding of true service after becoming involved in the Springfield community through Wittenberg’s community service program,” Kot wrote in her application letter. “Specifically, I learned how important it is to work directly with communities and public organizations to achieve social justice and bring about change by listening and meeting the needs of the community. I believe that education is a wonderful place to start when addressing community needs. There is a large value placed on schooling, so service should start by bringing parents, communities, and students together. My passions are in youth work and in being able to nurture the development of children in the community by committing to their success.”
While tutoring students in Springfield, Kot observed that Spanish-speaking students did not have the same access to tutoring, resources, or written materials as their English-speaking counterparts. She listened to their stories and heard about the pressure they have to assimilate to an English-speaking learning environment while facing significant barriers without the necessary tools to do so.
“My experience with ESOL tutoring largely impacted me culturally and the way I think about the education system,” she said. “Providing supplementary aid to Hispanic and Haitian students allowed for me to practice my Spanish skills while building connections with the students and valuing their agency and voice. This experience also allowed for me to reflect on my own implicit bias (growing up in predominantly white town) and fueled my dedication to cultural awareness and an equitable learning environment.”
Through her recent experiences, Kot has built relationships with key nonprofit leaders such as Wellspring and Clark County Partners in Prevention to work on education, mental health, and youth services.
The award is named in honor of Charles J. Ping, who served as President of Ohio University from 1975-1994. An early supporter and Board Member of Ohio Campus Compact, Ping has been a tireless advocate for campus-community partnerships and increased opportunities for students to become active and engaged citizens. All candidates are nominated by the president of their college or university.
About Ohio Campus Compact:
Ohio Campus Compact is a statewide non-profit coalition of 40 college and university presidents and their campuses working to promote and develop the civic purposes of higher education. Learn more about the Ping recipients at https://ohiocampuscompact.org/awards/student-awards/ or for information on Ohio Campus Compact, email firstname.lastname@example.org.