A freshman student at Western Carolina University, Kaleb Ticknor, was honored in November with a Community Impact Award for his service to the campus community.
The award, only given to 17 students from across the state, is given annually by North Carolina Campus Compact, a non-profit coalition of N.C. campuses, which is dedicated to “building the capacity of colleges and universities to produce civically-engaged graduates and strengthened communities,” according to its website.
Ticknor was chosen for his leadership as a student in organizing voting initiatives, mock debates and in facilitating cooperation and coordination between the campus’ various political groups.
A major in Emergency Medical Care, Ticknor is an Oklahoma native but said he comes from a military family and has been living in Fayetteville. He heard about WCU and the EMC program from several EMTs, paramedics and soldiers from Moore County where he served as a volunteer firefighter.
“They all said that the EMC program is awesome,” Ticknor said about what influenced him to choose Western Carolina. He plans to work for an EMS squad after graduation, possibly in Nashville, Tennessee.
Ticknor became politically involved this semester through his USI 101 class, a required course for Honors students that seeks to encourage student participation and community involvement. This purpose worked well for him. Under the guidance of the Steve Carlisle, associate dean of the Honors College, Ticknor became chair of the Honor’s College Voter Initiative and a student-led committee that provided transportation to and from polling places on Election Day.
Admittedly new to the world of politics, Ticknor said he feels students recognize the importance of elections, but that, from what he’s seen, many feel their vote does not truly matter.
According to Western’s University News, Ticknor’s service to the campus community was recognized at the North Carolina Campus Compact’s Student Conference, which is held annually at North Carolina universities and community colleges alike. This year’s conference was held at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, with major topics focusing on volunteer work, leadership, service learning, advocacy and activism.
Paul Loeb, the writer of “Soul of a Citizen,” was the keynote speaker. Next year’s event will be held at Central Piedmont Community College.
By utilizing Facebook, email and word-of-mouth, Ticknor helped organize a number of political events on campus, including a mock debate between the College Democrats and the College Republicans.
“One of the greatest challenges we faced was that of competition of information,” said Ticknor.
Ticknor said that if he were to do one thing differently, he would get the administrative offices more involved.
“Towards the end, we collaborated with them on a few things, and they were incredibly helpful,” he said.
Although unaware of how he came to win the award, Ticknor was grateful. He was notified two weeks prior to the ceremony.
“I was glad that the Voter Initiative on campus was successful enough to be noticed at the conference,” he said, “though I didn’t have any personal feelings beyond that.”