Fri Nov 22 2013
HICKORY, N.C. — It’s one thing to want to make the world a better place. It’s quite another to get out there and do it. Kayla Earley, 19, knows that first hand. Her charitable work and research into some of today’s major social issues earned her a Community Impact Student Award.
Earley, a Lenoir-Rhyne University junior, found out she had been nominated for an award when she was invited to attend an invitation-only conference in her home town of Charlotte. She attended the conference and that’s where she learned that she’d won the award.
Given by North Carolina Campus Compact, an association of colleges and universities committed to fostering campus-community engagement, the award recognizes one outstanding student on each campus for making a difference in the community. Earley is one of nineteen students across the state to be honored.
“I think I got the award because of the research I’ve been doing on foodinsecurity and food deserts,” Earley said. “I’ve been studying Hickory as an example of a food desert because of the population here that has to buy food at convenience stores and fast food restaurants because there’s no grocery store within walking distance for a lot of people who live in this area.”
A community health major, Earley is humble about her accomplishments and the award came as a surprise. Earley has been working with The Corner Table in Newton to learn about the issues of hunger and poverty in the area. She would like to start teaching cooking and nutrition classes to the area’s poor and underserved so they can start making healthy choices for themselves and their families. She’s also assisted in the disaster relief efforts in Haiti.
“I guess I didn’t feel like I deserved the award,” she said. “Most of my work has been in research—so many others have done so much more. I just want to teach people to be healthy. I’m looking into areas that have been overlooked and can be easily fixed.”
Though Earley may feel like others have done more, she has plenty of supporters who sing her praises.
“Kayla is one of our most engaged students,” says Ariel Mitchell, the AmeriCorps VISTA who coordinates Lenoir-Rhyne’s community service programs. “She truly deserves this recognition.”
Earley is also interested in getting involved in the fight against underage and binge drinking. Her style is to show people that a goal is possible then help them achieve that goal—no matter how lofty.
“It’s possible to do something like this but not everyone can do it alone,” she said.
Earley and other award winners were honored recently at the North Carolina Campus Compact’s annual student conference held Nov. 2 at Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte. Nearly 200 student leaders from 28 campuses in three states attended.
About North Carolina Campus Compact:
North Carolina Campus Compact is a statewide association of nearly 40 colleges and universities that seek to develop civically-engaged students and strengthencommunities. Presidents and chancellors commit their institutions to being “engaged campuses” that enhance a student’s sense of responsibility, citizenship, and leadership, and impact the community by partnering with local organizations to address real needs. For more information about the Compact or the student conference, visit www.nccampuscompact.org.LRU News | No Comments