UNC Asheville senior Stephanie Watkins-Cruz has been recognized for outstanding leadership and service by North Carolina Campus Compact, a statewide network of colleges and universities that are committed to community engagement. Watkins-Cruz is a recipient of the network’s Community Impact Student Award, which honors one student leader at each member school.
Watkins-Cruz is one of 18 students across the state to receive the 2014 award, joining more than 200 college students honored by the organization since the award was first presented in 2006.
During her time in Asheville, Watkins-Cruz has been a forceful advocate for the advancement of girls and minority communities at home and abroad. She is president of UNC Asheville’s chapter of She’s the First, which funds scholarships for girls in developing countries. In this role, she organized fundraisers, special events, and partnerships, including the Cupcake Classic 5K and the school’s first Celebration of the Girl.
Working with UNC Asheville political scientists, Watkins-Cruz contributed research on local housing to the State of Black Asheville 2014, an event she also helped to coordinate and promote. A political science major from Charlotte, she is a leader in the Black Student Association, has organized voter registration efforts in the Shiloh community, and tutors youngsters in Pisgah View Apartments as part of the Urban Mentoring Academy.
Stephanie Franklin, director of Transition and Parent Programs at UNC Asheville, nominated Watkins-Cruz for the award. “She never shies away from opportunities to improve others' lives,” Franklin says. “Rather than passively accepting circumstances at face value, Stephanie actively seeks solutions.”
Watkins-Cruz and other award winners will be honored at North Carolina Campus Compact’s annual student conference on Nov. 8 at N.C. State University in Raleigh. Now in its 21st year, the conference will convene 180 student leaders from 25 campuses in five states, offering participants a slate of workshops focused on leadership best practices and community issues.
North Carolina Campus Compact is a collaborative network of colleges and universities with a shared commitment to educating engaged citizens and strengthening communities. Guided by an executive board of presidents and chancellors, the Compact supports member schools through professional development and resources related to civic and community engagement. The Compact was founded in 2002 and is hosted by Elon University.