The Athena Smith Ford Student for Peace Award

Established in 1996, the Student for Peace Award is presented to a young person whose academic and extra-curricular activities reflect a commitment to justice and a future of peacemaking. In 2019, the award was named in memory of Athena Smith Ford, the 2001 recipient and an outstanding advocate for justice and peace throughout her short lifetime. Athena, who passed away in 2016, is a model for young people who want to bring about justice and peace in their communities

2019 Honoree: Sara Ahmed
On May 19, Sara Ahmed will be the first person in her family to graduate from college.  As she completes her bachelor’s degree from King’s College with a major in biology, Sara will realize the fruits of not only her diligent efforts but also those of her hard-working parents who emigrated to the United States from Egypt as young newlyweds. Many more people will reap the benefits of Sara Ahmed’s dedication to peace, justice, and interfaith and inter-cultural understanding. As a student, Sara has been involved in a number of activities to promote peace and justice. She most recently spoke at the Standing Against Terror: United with Our Muslim Neighbors event on Public Square in Wilkes-Barre, held in response to the terror attacks in New Zealand. Sara has been a leader of the Multi-Cultural and International Student Club; she recently participated in a SERVE trip to Puerto Rico and a Quest retreat through Campus Ministry. Sara was also part of a study abroad program in Peru, which included inter-cultural dialogue between King’s students and young Peruvian English language learners. Ms. Ahmed is committed to promoting peace and justice at King’s College and in the Wilkes-Barre community as a whole. Sara has also been instrumental in educating the King’s community on interfaith issues and presented on this activity at President Obama’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge at Gallaudet University in 2016. Sara uses the knowledge she gains to encourage and educate those around her. She is a brave and passionate student, especially where justice and advocacy are concerned. Sara’s goal is to one day travel the world and do research that will impact the lives of many people. She is a very worthy recipient of this award.

Past Awardees:

2018 Honoree: Julianna Stella
Julianna Stella is a senior Social Work student at Misericordia University, where she serves as the president of the Social Work Association and as a member of the directing team of Campus Ministry in charge of the Catholic Relief Services ministry. The team promotes education and advocacy on campus and hosts events such as hunger banquets and climate change, immigration and human trafficking simulations. Julianna is also the advisor to the Circle K Service Club and a mentor in the Social Work Intern Mentoring Program. Currently, she interns at Catholic Social Services in the Immigration and Refugee Resettlement Program. Outside of school, she serves as Vice President of the Wyoming Area Kiwanis and works as a part time lifeguard at the Holiday Inn. After receiving her undergraduate degree, she will attend the University of SUNY Buffalo for a Masters in Social Work and Macro Practice. Her passion and purpose is service to others, and she aspires, as best expressed by her campus minister and dear friend, “to be kind, work hard, and cultivate joy.”

2017 Honoree: Chelsea Taylor Collins
Chelsea Collins is a recent graduate of Marywood University’s Graduate School of Social Work. During her time in school she was the graduate assistant overseeing the Center for Social Justice and Community Collaboration in which she organized events such as a diversity event for undergraduates and a solution-focused panel dealing with heroin and opiate addiction in Northeastern Pennsylvania. She spent a year interning as the onsite social worker at the Scranton Lackawanna Human Development Agency and the past year interning at Senator John Blake’s Scranton office. She hopes to continue her efforts for promoting intersectional social justice by working in public policy and research. Chelsea is well deserving of the Student for Peace Award as her inspiration is anyone who spreads love and peace in the face of adversity. She started a blog, as a way to start a discussion on political and social issues such as criminal justice, race, and gender, as a way to simplify complex problems to educate and collaborate with others. Her aspiration is to do good, help people who may not have a voice and work in public policy.

2016: Angela Costigan and Katie Gereda

2015: Aoife Burke, Becky Revitt, Andie Sullivan, and Luke Sullivan

2014: Jarred Kraft, Mr. J

2013: Arisa Lucia Gereda

2012: Jordan Marsh and Adam Zapotok

2011: Stanley Chan

2010: Sarah Klee

2009 William Browne

2008: Diya Das

2007: Britney Brewster

2006: Amanda Shonk

2005: Donald Stefanovich

2004: Abigail Myers

2002: Greg Elliott

2001: Buddy Shah and Athena Smith Ford

2000: Jude Pannell

1997: Justin Scappaticci

1996: Brian Hebling