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Student Spotlight | University of Missouri St. Louis Constitution Day Essay Contest Winner

UMSL_LOGOUniversity of Missouri – St. Louis (UMSL) held an essay contest as part of their commemoration of Constitution Day 2015 asking students, ” What does freedom mean to you?” Undergraduate student Myra Dotzel won the essay contest with her strong and flowing words about what freedom means to her.

In Honor of the Human Spirit | By Myra Dotzel, UMSL first-year student

Freedom, like other ideas, is a value shared amongst many different peoples. Because of this, freedom is interpreted in many different ways. The term “freedom” is commonly defined as the absence of necessity or constraint in action. However, when mentioned in the United States Constitution, freedom intimates a much broader range of ideas and celebrated values. Our United States Constitution guarantees freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, and petition. In short, the Constitution promises individuals the right to be themselves.

Even though interpretations of “Freedom” vary across cultures, groups, and communities around the world, freedom is universally humanity’s natural right of choice. In other words, freedom is what allows an individual to value what they do in safety and confidence. More specifically, freedom should not and will never be taken away from humanity. A person is born with freedom and will die with it as well. In the direst of circumstances, people neither have the ability nor do they have the right to confiscate freedom from another. Furthermore, no one reserves the right to offend or diminish the freedom and liberty of others. In this way, freedom in itself is a symbol of equality amongst individuals, races, groups, and other communities. Freedom is about individual expression; it is color in a bleak world; it is what transforms a loud, violent world into a tolerable one. In these ways, freedom must be encouraged as it is part of the human spirit.

Freedom is generally defined as an absence of norm or coercion. However, freedom, is more than this. Acting to harm another’s freedom is acting to harm one’s own morals and what was ultimately intended for the human spirit and world as a whole. So today, in the midst of violence, hate, and persecution, it is important to remember that no matter who we are or where we come from, the human spirit of freedom always echoes through our hearts and must inform our actions. In general, acting to infringe another’s freedom is a moral crime. Ultimately, freedom serves as an example of the endurance and commitment to honoring the human spirit. Without freedom, there is no equality. Without equality, there is no freedom.

About the Author

Myra Dotzel is a dually enrolled freshman at the University of Missouri – St. Louis, she is a passionate writer and artist. Her writing has been recognized at the state level. Her paintings have been accepted into the Young Artist Guild Showcase and have won special awards through various organizations’ art contests. Myra is an active deacon at her church. She is very much a community-minded individual. In 2014, Myra organized a supply drive for the Department of Veterans Affairs at Jefferson Barracks. She brought over 6,000 brand new items to help stock the supply room at the VA hospital at Jefferson Barracks.

Student Spotlight: Campus Compact’s 2015 Newman Civic Fellows

Campus Compact’s Newman Civic Fellows Award honors inspiring college student leaders who have demonstrated an investment in finding solutions for challenges facing communities throughout the country. Through service, research, and advocacy, Newman Civic Fellows are making the most of their college experiences to better understand themselves, the root causes of social issues, and effective mechanisms for creating lasting change. These students represent the next generation of public problem solvers and civic leaders. They serve as national examples of the role that higher education can—and does—play in building a better world.  The Newman Civic Fellows Awards are made possible through the generous support of the KPMG Foundation.

Congratulations to the following 46 students from AASCU/ADP colleges and universities who have been named Newman Civic Fellows for 2015 by Campus Compact! You may click on each name to read a description of their accomplishments.

Student Spotlight: CSU Fresno’s Elizabeth Olenchalk

California State University, Fresno junior Elizabeth Olenchalk was named a 2014 Newman Civic Fellow in recognition of her commitment to community service and civic leadership.

Elizabeth is a Liberal Studies major and her minor in Urban Civic Education was developed as part of AASCU’s five-campus, Learn and Serve America grant-funded program to develop civic minors in urban education (learn more here). Olenchalk hopes to become “a change agent who addresses community issues.” Read more.

Student Spotlight: FHSU’s Kelly Nuckolls

FHSU's Kelly Nuckolls

FHSU’s Kelly Nuckolls

Kelly Nuckolls, a senior at Fort Hays State University and a student member of ADP’s Implementation Committee, has been recognized nationally as one of 180 2013 Newman Civic Fellows by Campus Compact.

The Newman Civic Fellows Award honors inspiring college student leaders who have demonstrated an investment in finding solutions for challenges facing communities throughout the country. Fellows are recommended by their college or university presidents and the awards are made in memory of Frank Newman.

According to the award notification, “Nuckolls creates programs and events to involve students and the surrounding community in becoming aware of taking action to combat hunger. Her passion for this work has positioned her as a leader on and off campus.”

Nuckolls has been involved in numerous organizations including the Global Leadership Project, American Democracy Project, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Universities Fighting World Hunger Eighth Food Summit, Up ‘Til Dawn, Mortar Board National College Senior Honor Society and Student Government Association.

Kelly Nuckolls is deeply involved in awareness and action for local, national, and global hunger. For two years she has been the coordinator for the Global Leadership Project. Through her position, Kelly creates programs and events to involve students and the surrounding community in becoming aware and taking action to combat hunger. Her passion for this work has positioned her as a leader on and off campus.

Congratulations, Kelly!

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