Kirsten Spooner was hired at the Center for Community Engaged Learning before classes began in her first year of college. As a service-learning coordinator, her job was to be present on site when SNHU students were required to be there for their service-learning classes. She was to take attendance, ensure students were involved in the service, and serve as a liaison between the community partner, our campus, and the service-learning faculty. Kirsten spent her first year at the community center at Langdon Mills, an apartment complex that primarily houses new Americans. About this experience, Kirsten wrote, "I am from a small town in New Hampshire. I lived there my entire life and went to high school with about 300 students. SNHU was a huge change from this. I always wanted to work with children, but growing up I pictured an all-white student classroom with me at the board. Now, the image is very different. Because of my experience at SNHU I picture children of all ethnicities and races in a place where everyone feels safe and confident and ready to learn."
Our SNHU staff quickly saw Kirsten's incredible leadership potential and promoted her to Service-Learning Program Coordinator for her second year. In this role, Kirsten assists in program-wide oversight. She helps to train the service-learning coordinators, visits each site to ensure things are running smoothly, and facilitates classroom orientations. Additionally, Kirsten has served as an Alternative Break Trip Coordinator for a spring break trip to New York and to Santa Julia, Nicaragua. In this role she was responsible for participant selection and training, budget development, and all trip logistical planning. One of her trip chaperones, Professor Sue Losapio, said she would go on any trip anywhere in the world as long as it was with Kirsten.
Kirsten excels at everything she puts her mind to (as evidenced by her impressive 3.7 grade point average). In addition to her work in our Center for Community Engaged Learning, Kirsten is a member of the Inter-Greek Council, is a Resident Assistant on campus, and was a recent recipient of the inaugural Penmen Pursuits Award. Kirsten writes, "Service will be part of my life forever. It is part of me no matter where I am. In the classroom I can be an advocate for engagement, as an RA it informs my programming and bulletin boards, and as a Greek member, I infuse everything with the two most important pillars- leadership and philanthropy. I have found my passion and changed my way of thinking. Addressing social injustice is now and forever will be in my life."
Of her work in the Center, her supervisor Kelley Hobbs writes, "Kirsten's passion is unmatched. Nothing she does is for recognition. Her work in the community comes from an internal and inherent desire to do good and make her community a more just place to be for all citizens. She sees injustice and wants to fight it. She's a quiet leader who thinks critically about some of our biggest problems and figures out ways in which she can be part of the solution."
The President's Leadership Award was created to recognize a student who has made service an integral part of her college experience, a description that fits Kirsten perfectly. Everything Kirsten does- from her curricular engagement to her co-curricular engagement is connected to her goal of creating positive change in her community.
During my time as an undergraduate student, I have been heavily involved and dedicated to community service and encouraging my peers to become active citizens. It is important to me to educate others about the cycle of poverty and societal inequities through critical thinking. My passion is to end social injustices by educating and coordinating college students so that they are proactive and make positive impacts on their communities. I address root causes of social issues by being conscientious and intentional with the work that college students and I are doing and assessing how well the work is meeting the needs of the community partner.