Recognition for selfless service

Natalie Lussier

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Making significant contributions to community resources is a deed that is not left unrewarded. Kanyn Doan, a junior studying Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies at Grand Valley State University, received the Outstanding Community Impact Award – which is an honor given to a student who has made service an integral part of their college experience.

The award was given through Michigan Campus Compact (MiCC), a coalition of college and university presidents who are committed to fulfilling the public purpose of higher education. MiCC promotes the education and commitment of Michigan college students to be civically engaged citizens through creating and expanding academic co-curricular and campus-wide opportunities for community service, service learning and civic engagement.

Doan was nominated for the award through Brittany Dernberger, assistant director of the Women’s Center. Dernberger said that she nominated Doan because of her strong commitment to gender, justice and service learning.

Doan has been actively involved in the Women’s Center as a Women’s Leadership House resident. She has also been a Women’s Center ambassador and a participant on the Women’s Center and Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies South Africa study abroad trip. Dernberger said that, in these roles, Doan has participated in leading multiple days of service, presenting at the Leadership Summit on behalf of the Women’s Center and regularly represents the Women’s Center at events around campus.

“Kanyn regularly takes on additional challenges and responsibilities (for the Women’s Center),” Dernberger said. “This past January, she served on a social justice service learning panel. This award is a great honor because it is a statewide recognition of her dedication and hard work.”

While on the panel for social justice learning, Doan received the initial Community Impact Award. Once selected, she was required to write about her service and the impact it has had for her and others, and was then awarded the Outstanding Service Award.

While writing about her service, her volunteer work in South Africa first came to mind. Not only did she provide service for the residents, but they provided unexpected services for her.

“We go in thinking that we need to alter them, but really we should be learning from them,” Doan said. “It changed my life. It really did. It was a really life-altering experience.”

Focusing on everyday tasks is a crucial part of service for Doan, where recognition is not considered a primary goal when participating in service.

“(We need to start) asking questions, asking why…and really trying to dig deeper – and not just checking off the hours and checking off the box,” Doan said. “How can we impact our campus? How can we teach each other?”

Doan hopes to take the experiences she has had and use it as a teaching tool to reach out to other students. She said she hopes to keep learning, and that the knowledge and kindness she passes on will be carried out in other communities and help shape them and allow them to shape her.

“The world wasn’t designed the way it was just for us to learn about, it’s for us to experience,” Doan said. “I’m going to meet as many people as I can and I’m going to let every opportunity take me away with it…I have a pretty broad major and a pretty broad mindset.”

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