If there was ever a small town that knows a thing or two about food – delicious, Southern, soul food – it’s Auburn, Alabama. Any true Tigers fan has witnessed the expanse of game-day tailgates packed in like sardines across campus, each boasting tables covered with grilled meats, dips, vegetable platters and more sweets than one tummy can handle. And if that isn’t enough, Acre, Chicken Salad Chick, Amsterdam Café and Steel City Pops are only a taste of the fantastic Southern dining spots that our city has to offer.
While I am enormously blessed with the simple privilege to eat, I am also painfully aware of the 60 percent of public school children in Alabama who are not and who partake in the federally-funded free or reduced school lunch program. In Lee County alone, over half of the school system’s students are enrolled. As an elementary education major working to complete my internship at Northside Elementary School it shocks me that, even in 2015, many of my young students are simply too hungry to learn in the classroom.
The more I get to know these precious individuals, the more piercing this issue becomes to me; however, it makes me enormously proud to know that End Child Hunger Alabama, along with Auburn University’s Hunger Solutions Institute and the Jason Dufner Foundation, are working together to move Alabama into the top 25 percent of states with the highest degree of child food security by 2020.
Though I wholeheartedly support our state’s initiative on a larger scale, Jason Dufner’s Blessings in a Backpack program directly impacts children of Lee County, some of which have been my students, by providing eligible schoolchildren with a backpack full of nutritious food to take home for 38 weekends during the school year. These backpacks, containing items like macaroni and cheese, juice boxes and granola bars, combat the effects of malnutrition, which can result in weaker immune systems, lower IQs, shorter attention spans and lower academic achievement.
While I pray every day that we will soon find a cure for illnesses like cancer and Alzheimer’s, I am compelled even more to take action on the issue of child hunger because the solution already exists. Through partnering with these powerful organizations, we can help provide access to nutritious foods that promote growth and development, both of which are necessary for physical and wellbeing and academic achievement. Finally, by encouraging my friends, classmates, sorority sisters, roommates and campus organizations to help stuff backpacks or pick up an extra box of oatmeal at the grocery store, we can provide an “appetite for learning” to underprivileged children in Lee County schools, down the street or even next door.
Snapchat. Texting. Music. Lack of Sleep. These are all common distractions related to car accidents among young adults. We believe that it won’t happen to us or that stoplights and stand still traffic “don’t count”. I’ must admit, even I’m guilty of it from time to time. But if we’re honest with ourselves we know that if we’re behind the wheel our full attention should be on the road. The severe consequences of distracted driving haven’t always been apparent to me. In August 2015, I was involved in a serious car accident that was a direct result of distracted driving. While at a stand still, I was hit by a large truck at over 70 miles per hour. The reason: a distracted driver. The trunk of my car was pushed against the back of my driver’s seat and my car proceeded to catch on fire. Soon afterwards, the fire began to spread and caused my car to explode. Thankfully, I was able to escape my vehicle before it was too late, but others have not been as fortunate.
According to saferoads.org, sending or receiving a text message causes the driver’s eyes to be off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds. When combined with driving 55 miles per hour, this is the equivalent of driving the entire length of a football field blind. We all know someone who has been involved in a wreck that could’ve been avoided. Every year, texting while driving contributes to over 200,000 vehicle accidents—many resulting in serious injuries, or even deaths. In fact, it is the leading cause of death for teenagers. It breaks my heart that there are lives lost over something so preventable. It is my goal throughout this campaign to educate young adult drivers about the dangers of driving while distracted and how to practice safe driving. People advocating for safer roads and driving techniques isn’t new, but it’s something that involves all of us. My goal is to raise money for an organization called “It Can Wait”, a national campaign that specifically works to unite these objectives in order to stop unnecessary vehicular accidents and deaths everywhere.
I want to challenge not only Auburn students, but our community to put their phones down every time they step into a car. I want them to identify what their biggest distractions are in a car setting and the best way to eliminate them. Whether that’s handing your phone over to another passenger, leaving it in the backseat, or using an app that alerts others that you’re driving and unavailable. Change always begins with younger generations and it is my hope that through this campaign we’re able to open the dialogue on producing safer roads for everyone.
Spread Wellness With Wesley
College is an incredible journey for students, as they are shaping their values, visions, and the person they are constantly transforming into. Such an experience can also come with many challenges and obstacles while students are all trying to map out what the rest of their lives will stand for. When I first came to Auburn I struggled with mental health and became trapped in my own mind. I felt alone because I thought that no one else would understand the “illness” that “I” was diagnosed with.
What I soon came to learn was that I was not alone; that I did not have to worry about what others thought of me because once I shared my story, others joined and walked alongside me. Many students struggle with mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse, eating disorders, etc. Through discovering this, mental health was no longer about me and my struggle; it was about what the campus as a whole could do together to increase and promote Mental Wellness. The support I’ve received from the community and resources at Auburn have given me the confidence and strength to persevere and give back to others what I have learned myself. Mental Wellness is not just a platform to me; it is my calling to be a voice to the voiceless.
Someone struggling could very well be the person sitting next to you in class, your best friend, or even a family member. This past year a shocking 68.9% of Auburn students claimed that they would seek help from a mental health provider for a personal problem they experience. From experience as the Health and Wellness Director, I have learned that even though many students want to seek help, most are not aware of the resources that Auburn provides.
After spending a lot of time dealing with the word mental “illness”, I noticed something spectacular. If you take out the “I” in “illness” and replace it with “We” it creates the word “Wellness”. This transformation from “I” to “We” is a perfect representation of what my platform is all about. Instead of attaching a stigma to mental health issues and calling it an illness that only certain people have, we can work together as a school to spread the true meaning of Mental Wellness. Mental Wellness is a state of wellbeing in which the individual is able to make a contribution to his or her community. Students struggling with mental health don’t have to feel like they are alone anymore when we can work together to spread mental wellness across campus.
The vision of “Spread Wellness with Wesley” is to bring the Auburn campus together to not just raise awareness, but to foster a community that promotes a greater sense of Wellness. It is to provide the student body with information about the mental health resources that Auburn provides, while raising money for these resources in order to support students who struggle just like I did.
Lutzie 43 Foundation
The name Philip Lutzenkirchen holds a lot of meaning on Auburn’s campus. He was a talented football player for the Tigers and a leader with impeccable character. During high school, I loved watching him play. After reading an article about his date to the prom with a friend with special needs, I was more than on board. It is safe to say he quickly became my favorite player. I had the fortunate opportunity to meet him during my Camp War Eagle experience. He was so genuine and kind to me, and really got me excited about coming to Auburn! I was truly heartbroken to hear of his untimely death two years ago. It was such a loss for the entire Auburn family.
After his death, I was encouraged to hear that a Foundation was being created to honor him. The Lutzie 43 Foundation was established in loving memory of Philip. The objective of the Foundation is to pass on Philip’s many endearing characteristics in terms of community service, leadership and service to others. The foundation aims to develop the character and decision making skills of young people by focusing on leadership, charity, compassion, mentorship, hard work, honesty and faith through education and application. It also is involved with a variety of special projects and events that correlate with Philip’s focus on giving back in the communities where he lived. The events include: The annual “13 Can Make a Difference” food drive, the Lutzie 43 Road Race, and various other community events and projects. Future plans include reestablishing a prom for special needs children in Cobb County and nearby communities in the spring of 2016.
To me, running for Miss Homecoming will provide Auburn with the opportunity to support this worthy foundation. Philip left a legacy on our campus that is still making a difference today. I want to encourage our student body to think about what kind of legacy they will be leaving behind after graduation while raising funds to assist with the events in which the foundation is seeking funding, particularly the special needs prom.
The characteristics that the Lutzie 43 Foundation focuses on, remind me of the characteristics that I see in my peers at Auburn every day. Our student body is compassionate, hard working, honest, dedicated to education and charitable. I think this platform aligns well with what Homecoming is all about. It is about welcoming back the Auburn Family and reflecting on the traits that make Auburn different and special-the same traits that set Philip apart. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to honor him and raise awareness and funding for his Foundation.
As humans, we are all enslaved, or bound, to something or someone. At the widespread level, we are witnessing accounts of working oppression in factories, commercial sex trafficking and more. This imprisonment is not only distinguished at a global level but more specifically through personal entrapment to various temptations. Amidst both, there is a prized goal of freedom and restoration for the victims at hand.
My goal in this campaign is to educate, empower and encourage. Educate our student body of the global oppression and share in raising awareness of the slavery that abounds in and beyond our college campus. Empower students, by way of knowledge, to translate the privileges of their Auburn experience into tangible, proactive ways to defend the rights and worth of our fellow men. Finally, I desire to encourage our students to actively participate with conviction as we establish our significance in having the power to overcome the battles within and to seek to change this universal issue.
By way of addressing this global perspective, I hope to uncover where we are bound as Auburn men and women to ultimately grant personal freedom. This platform, and overall campaign, is not limited to the week prior to Homecoming as this campaign will provide tangible resources from on campus organizations to aid in “doing justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with my God.”
Together, I believe that we have the ability to advocate for the oppressed, to lead our students in finding purpose and worth through concrete resources as they contribute their fullest potential on campus and in the world at large.
- The Elections Board ruled unanimously that Sara Bedsole’s campaign was found without fault in reference to this violation.