Ohio Wesleyan University senior Anna Fender is one of 10 students statewide being honored with a 2022 Charles J. Ping Student Service Award in recognition of her “outstanding leadership and contributions to community service or service-learning.”
Fender of Sullivan, Illinois, also is one of two 2022 Ping Award recipients selected to receive $250 Legacy Award mini-grants to be contributed to her charity of choice. The honors are bestowed annually by the Ohio Campus Compact, a nonprofit consortium of 40 colleges and universities working to strengthen the overall capacity of the schools “to educate students for civic and social responsibility and to improve community life.”
In nominating Fender for the Ping Award, Ohio Wesleyan President Rock Jones, Ph.D., said: “She is the embodiment of Ohio Wesleyan’s ideal of excellence in leadership and service. … As evidenced by her body of work, Anna is already engaged as a member of this next generation of civic leaders and problem-solvers. Her kindness, intellect, and determination will make the future better for all of us.”
Fender’s body of work spans all four years of her time at Ohio Wesleyan and includes helping to plan and develop two interfaith service teams, creating and implementing a series “Let’s Talk About Social Justice” dinners, and interning and volunteering with People In Need (PIN) Inc. of Delaware County, which will receive the mini-grant.
As a PIN intern, Fender supervised youth volunteer groups, participated in community events, and helped provide access to healthy food for people experiencing food insecurity. Today, she is a program support specialist and works primarily in the emergency services department, which assists families with eviction prevention, prescription, and utility needs.
“This work has allowed me to learn about the specific needs of people living in my community,” said Fender, a triple-major in Social Justice, Women’s and Gender Studies, and Comparative Literature. “It has also reaffirmed my desire to work with non-profit organizations.”
Regarding the “Let’s Talk About Social Justice” programs, Fender said: “One of the themes we frequently discuss at Ohio Wesleyan is that creating space for conversations across differences is an important form of service. … These dinners increased community connections and offered participants a chance to discuss topics that are deeply important but rarely discussed with strangers. … The overwhelming response was positive, and I am heartened that plans are being made to continue this program in the future.
“Service and community-based learning are at the core of my experience at Ohio Wesleyan University,” said Fender, who plans to pursue a master’s degree in nonprofit management after she graduates in May. “I value having been in a place that nurtured me and allowed me to first participate and then grow into leadership.
“Now, on the precipice of my post-graduate life,” she said, “I am grateful for the direction I have gained and hopeful that my contributions continue to enhance both our campus and the surrounding community.”
Learn more about the Ohio Campus Compact and the Ping Award at www.ohiocampuscompact.org, more about People in Need at www.delawarepeopleinneed.org, and more about Ohio Wesleyan’s commitment to community service at www.owu.edu/service.