2022 CHARLES J. PING LEGACY AWARD WINNERS
Ohio Campus Compact is excited to announce the Charles J. Ping Legacy Award winners for 2022!
OCC’s Charles J. Ping Student Service Award is designed to recognize and honor undergraduate students for their outstanding leadership and contributions to community service or service-learning on their campus and within their community. The Ping Legacy Award recognizes students who address economic, emotional, and environmental community needs.
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.
Students nominated to be a Charles J. Ping Student Service Award winner compete with other nominees from across the state for two $250 Legacy Award mini grants, to be given to a nonprofit organization of the winner’s choice. The Legacy Award mini grants are sponsored by Ohio Campus Compact.
Congratulations, 2022 Legacy Award winners Julie Centofanti and Anna Fender!
Julie Centofanti, Biology, 2024, Youngstown State University
Since March 2020, our lives have drastically changed. We must wear masks to slow the spread of a deadly virus that has affected thirty-five million Americans and caused over 900,000 deaths since then. However, the need for universal volunteerism is just as essential as ever. Students at Youngstown State University Honors College were faced with a challenge; assisting the community while quarantined. As a busy student with an immunocompromised father, I wanted to continue serving the community while protecting my family from this virus.
During the summer of 2020, I discovered the Smithsonian and Library of Congress Transcription Centers. These websites offered students the opportunity to transcribe documents that historians and researchers can use in the future. After YSU volunteers transcribe historical documents, historians can gain access to these hard-to-read documents with a complete, typed transcription. This benefits historians because they can spend more time researching documents than trying to read them. Throughout the fall semester, with the mentorship of Professor Mollie Hartup, I conducted Transcribe-a-Thons, which allowed students to transcribe documents while conversing in a virtual environment. During the fall and spring semesters, these weekly meetings were transformed into a Transcribing Club, where students meet up to three days a week to transcribe historical documents.
The Transcribing Club’s mission is to transcribe or correct millions of hard-to-read historical and scientific documents. Club members found many fascinating letters, scientific experiments, and political papers that correlate to events occurring today, such as the pandemic of 1918. We found the historical aspect fascinating, and club members could not stop typing and reading these articles! We enjoyed learning about the first women that fought for their right to vote, along with scientific articles that measured the temperature and location of stars. We also learned more about President Theodore Roosevelt through his great mass of papers, which included documents regarding our community steel mills in Youngstown and Cleveland, Ohio.
This club provided the perfect platform for me to volunteer and virtually build community among honors students while quarantined at home. Club members worldwide have the opportunity to interact with students of different majors. We enjoy discussing our classwork, hobbies, family, and pets. For example, several of the music majors delighted our members by virtually performing complex orchestral scores they would perform at a virtual competition. A biology major that works at my favorite ice cream shop shared her favorite work experiences.
A business major living in India started his morning at 4:30 AM to attend our meetings halfway across the globe. It is fascinating to learn about his culture! A business major shared her adorable Goldendoodle puppy! The upperclassmen mentored first-year students with similar majors. For example, a business major upperclassman advised a freshman regarding her internship. Recently, I hosted a joint Transcribe-a-Thon with the University of Texas at Arlington, where sixty students met between the two universities. I truly enjoyed talking to each student that shares stories during our meetings.
Throughout the formation and management of the Transcribing Club, my leadership abilities have significantly improved since high school. For example, I taught my members to follow proper transcription techniques. Together, we learned about various idiosyncrasies found in illegible cursive handwriting. If a member found a phrase that they could not decipher, that student shared their screen while members of the club helped them solve the illegible phrase. As a club, we currently completed over 16,000 documents and transcribed over 1,600 hours! The Transcribing Club also has Levels of Transcribing, which give students motivation to attend meetings. After attending a certain number of sessions, they can earn prizes and reputable titles that are emphasized on a resume.
Honors students at Youngstown State adhere to the five honors pillars. The Transcribing Club is an excellent example of the Service-Learning pillar. Service-Learning allows students to learn new information while working as a team. This valuable experience allowed me to learn more about historical events while helping national library databases. Without this club, it would have been difficult for YSU Honors students worldwide to connect during the pandemic.
In the future, I hope to expand the Transcribing Club by scanning, digitizing, and transcribing historical documents from Youngstown and surrounding communities. This project will allow students to learn more about the community where they attend college while building friendships among Honors College students. While transcribing, I found a quote by Teddy Roosevelt that relates to the Transcribing Club’s persistence during the pandemic: “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”
Anna Fender, Social Justice, Women’s and Gender Studies, and Comparative Literature – 2022, Ohio Wesleyan University
Service and community-based learning is at the core of my experience at Ohio Wesleyan University. I value having been in a place that nurtured me and allowed me to first participate and then grow into leadership. I began by joining the Spring Break Interfaith Service program my freshman year. Our team served with Lakota Youth Development on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota. The following year, I co-led the Philadelphia Interfaith Service Team. In this role, I was able to deepen my understanding of service learning by leading team reflection, guiding group decisions, and navigating last minute changes when we relocated to Columbus due to the pandemic. In the fall of my sophomore and junior years, I volunteered as a leader for City and Service Camp Oh-Wooo, interacting with a wide array of community partners. All of these experiences, combined with my majors in Social Justice and Women’s and Gender Studies, led me to decide to pursue non-profit management as my future career.
In the summer of 2021, I interned with People in Need (PIN), Inc. of Delaware County, Ohio. As part of this internship, I supervised youth volunteer groups, participated in community events, and helped provide access to healthy food for people in Delaware County experiencing food insecurity. At the end of the summer, I was invited to continue as a PIN program support specialist. I now work primarily in the emergency services department which offers support to families needing assistance with eviction prevention, prescriptions, and utilities. This work has allowed me to learn about the specific needs of people living in my community. It has also reaffirmed my desire to work with non-profit organizations.
One of the themes we frequently discuss at Ohio Wesleyan is that creating space for conversations across differences is an important form of service. During the spring semester of my junior year, I conducted research focused on assessing student feelings of belonging and connection. This research found that 85.2% of freshman and 85.6% of juniors surveyed felt disconnected. In response to this research, and as a result of my combined interests as a triple major, I created a series of dinners called “Let’s Talk About Social Justice” with the intent of bringing students, faculty, and staff together to discuss social issues and identity elements that impact them directly. These dinners increased community connections and offered participants a chance to discuss topics that are deeply important but rarely discussed with strangers. The dinners were funded by a Baran Fellowship and catered by local minority-owned restaurants. All participants were invited to complete entry and exit surveys through which I tracked anonymized participant experiences. The overwhelming response was positive, and I am heartened that plans are being made to continue this program in the future.
My time at Ohio Wesleyan has flown by so quickly. Now, on the threshold of my post-graduate life, I am grateful for the direction I have found and hopeful that my contributions continue to enhance both our campus and the surrounding community.