Grace Woods

Elmhurst College

Grace Woods, a third-year honors student at Elmhurst College, is an outspoken and passionate advocate for human rights and mental health. She serves in a variety of roles both on-campus and off-campus. For the last two years, Grace has volunteered as an educator and public speaker with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of DuPage County. Here, she supports students and patients at local schools and hospitals in their struggles with mental illness. Over the past year, she has participated at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Chicago where she mentors and encourages female leadership and independence. In addition, she is involved in Kappa Kappa Gamma’s philanthropy “Girls Academy” where she leads a group of middle school girls through curriculum focused on empowerment, body positivity, and mental health. Grace was recently elected Director of Risk Management to keep its members safe, and to assist in the mental health of those in the sorority chapter. Furthermore, Grace advocates for community and policy change. With the Citizen Advocacy Center, she conducts research aimed at promoting citizens’ understanding of their rights. After graduation, Grace plans on continuing her advocacy and service while pursuing her JD and LLM in international human rights law.

Dr. Troy VanAken
Elmhurst College

Personal Statement

I have always been passionate about women’s rights, mental health, and social change. Through Big Brothers Big Sisters, I mentor a wonderful young woman. Seeing her flourish has been an exceptionally rewarding experience. After being personally affected by mental illness, I was compelled to bring help, hope, and education to others. I began advocating and speaking about mental illness and my journey at schools and hospitals through the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). At Elmhurst College, I joined Kappa Kappa Gamma. Our philanthropies include the Christopher Lyons Memorial Fund, Reading is Fundamental, the Kappa Kappa Gamma Foundation, and Magnificent Mutts and Meows Rescue. I have been involved with our philanthropy Girls Academy where I led a group of young ladies through a curriculum that addresses issues such as bullying, body image, mental health, and leadership. Further, I was elected Director of Risk Management to keep my fellow sorority sisters safe and expand mental health support in the chapter. My work with Citizen Advocacy Center, a non-profit, non-partisan free community legal organization, has allowed me to be involved in research to educate the public in areas such as their rights as well as the local and federal government.

Grace Woods
Communication: Class of 2021
written 2020

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