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Higher Education in Maryland

June 2008 Press Release


For immediate release: June 19, 2008
Contact: Christopher Falkenhagen
Communications: (410) 260-4511

Dr. Lightfoot’s memory lives on through MHEC student awards

(Annapolis, MD – June 19, 2008) Dr. Regina Lightfoot devoted her adult life to public service to young people whether it was through her church, numerous other volunteer activities or in the higher education field. Before she died last year of cancer, Dr. Lightfoot was the Maryland Higher Education’s Director of Academic Affairs. While she had many duties in this capacity, Dr. Lightfoot also worked closely with MHEC’s Student Advisory Council.

The Student Advisory Council includes student volunteer representatives from all Maryland colleges and universities. It meets monthly to discuss current issues in higher education and provide a student voice to MHEC. Among the many issues it tackled during the 2007-2008 academic year were serving as a student voice during the General Assembly Session, addressing emergency preparedness on school campuses and working on environmental or “green” initiatives.

At yesterday’s Commission meeting, three outstanding students, one each from a graduate, a four-year and a two-year secondary institution received the Dr. Regina Lightfoot Student Service Award. The Student Advisory Council took it upon them to name the award after Dr. Lightfoot. There were “three amazingly dedicated students who received this award year,” said SAC Chairperson Courtney Kiphart, a St. Mary’s College of Maryland graduate.

The recipients of the Dr. Regina Lightfoot Student Service Awards were:

• Two-year undergraduate: Casey Jo Keyser, from Frederick Community College;
• Four-year undergraduate: Simran Noor, from the University of Maryland Baltimore County; and
• Graduate: Daniel Anderson, from the University of Maryland Baltimore.

Casey served as President of the Student Government Association. It this capacity, she assumed the responsibility of being the voice of students at her institution. Casey participated in the design phase of the New Student Center Building, added to the College’s Strategic Facilities Plan, aided in the planning of the Frederick Community College’s 50th anniversary celebration, and helped create new collaborations between faculty, staff, and students at the Community College and Frederick County Public Schools.

She also worked with the faculty development program and local high school teachers to help create an engaging environment for students to try closing the gap between high school and college students. “On our campus, there is no student who has contributed more to college life, team-building, and creating a vision of student engagement than has Casey,” said Jeanni Winston-Muir, director of the Center for Student Engagement, at Frederick Community College. “She is an outstanding young woman with unlimited potential, passion, and dedication. She will change the world.”

Simran made public service in many forms a priority at UMBC. As Chair of the Student Organizations Who Serve, Simran helped coordinate resources and recruit volunteers for a wide range of service activities. Not only did she help coordinate these events, but Simran also participated in programs such as Alternative Spring Break, Sarah’s Hope, Summer Trip to New Orleans, Bea Gaddy Thanksgiving Dinner, and Our Daily Bread Soup Kitchen. She also interned and worked with the Holistic Life Foundation teaching classes, mentoring, and writing grants.

Simran has not limited her service to her institution and community, but has also traveled to New Delhi, India to teach at the Hope Project School. “Simran has been a key contributor in establishing partnerships with service providers like Sarah’s Hope, to build opportunities for UMBC students to engage in service,” Erin H. Carter, UMBC’s Coordinator for Involvement and Leadership, said.

Simran will be continuing her work to better the lives of others after graduation by joining the Annie E. Casey Foundation – known worldwide for its many charitable endeavors.

Daniel received the award for being one of the founding members of Project Jump Start, a student-run interdisciplinary program that seeks to end homelessness in Baltimore City. The program uses students’ expertise from various professional programs to provide information and referrals to those in need. He also stays involved on campus serving as the President of the Graduate School Student Government, Senator in the University Student Government, and a representative to the University System of Maryland Student Council. Malinda B. Orlin, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean, Graduate School, credited Daniel with much of the change in the University’s momentum toward increased student activism, outreach, and volunteerism.

At the meeting, MHEC Chairman Kevin O’Keefe and Higher Education Secretary James E. Lyons, Sr., also congratulated several of the Student Advisory Council members who were present, acknowledging their service on the Committee. One of the SAC members is also MHEC’s Student commissioner, Josh Michael. Michael, who was recently named the student member of the University System of Maryland’s Board of Regents, was attending his last meeting as a voting MHEC commissioner. The other two SAC members to receive congratulations were St. Mary's College of Maryland graduate Samantha Aikins and Villa Julie (now Stevenson University) graduate Robert Ciereszko.

Secretary Lyons thanked the Student Advisory Council to name this year’s Student Service Award after Dr. Lightfoot. “This was very thoughtful of you,” Secretary Lyons told the SAC members who were present.

“It is unfortunate that other Maryland students will not have an opportunity to experience the knowledge of higher education issues as they affect students from Dr. Lightfoot,” said Dr. Janet Cornick, MHEC’s Senior Policy Analyst and Advisor to the Student Advisory Council.

The Maryland Higher Education Commission is a 12-member coordinating board responsible for establishing statewide policies for Maryland public and independent colleges and universities and private career schools. It serves as an advocate for more than 325,000 college students in Maryland, for the State and its needs, and for business and industry in Maryland.



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