Halen Gifford, a junior at The College of Wooster, is a leader who has made an exceptional impact in our local community from her very first days on campus. Through her leadership on local policy, she created changes in local housing, land bank, and emergency shelter access, which have been adopted by our City. She has also spearheaded research to support the hiring of those who had been formally incarcerated, and her results were taken up by local businesses and recognized with our local NAACP Community Enrichment award. She has also been engaged with increasing voter registration, and is currently working with students and faculty to establish a course-based collaboration with a local domestic violence shelter. She also chairs our Campus Council, an elected body of students, staff and faculty.
Service work and community engagement have always been important to me. When I got to college, I knew that I wanted to be active not only on campus but in the community. As a first-year college student, I joined my school’s College Democrats group. From there I was able to become heavily involved in voter registration efforts. I worked as a fellow for the College Election Engagement Program (CEEP), where I was able to promote election and voting engagement on my college campus. Additionally, for the past two summers, I have been a consultant for the Applied Methods and Research (AMRE) program. Through AMRE, I worked on social service projects that benefited individuals in Wayne County, OH. My first project researched job opportunities for individuals coming out of incarceration and my second project aimed to bring affordable housing to Wayne County with the goal of decreasing homelessness. I now am an intern for the College of Wooster’s Community Connection Program (CCP) where I have the pleasure of coordinating service learning in the greater Wooster, OH community with first-year students.