Honoring service

Two WWU students receive Student Civic Leadership Award

Anilce Castillo, senior bioengineering major, and Shayla Kern, social work major, were awarded the 2023 Walla Walla University Student Civic Leadership Award in April. The awards are given as a part of a larger initiative organized by Campus Coalition for the Public Good to celebrate students who are passionate about civic engagement and to recognize their community service. 

The selection process for the Student Civic Leadership Award at WWU relies on nominations from faculty, staff, and students. Once selected by John McVay, president of WWU, Castillo and Kern were celebrated in a ceremony at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington. Jonathan Simons, associate director of the Center of Humanitarian Engagement (CHE) at WWU, emphasized that award recipients are students who embody service as a way of life and who are leaders within that space. 

While at WWU, Castillo has worked as a project specialist for the CHE, leading a weekly challenge program through the Hey Neighbor Neighbor program. She also served as co-leader of Hispanic ministries with the goal of creating a welcoming community for Hispanic and non-Hispanic students. An outspoken advocate for diversity and inclusion, Castillo works directly with the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at WWU as a champion for various initiatives. 

When asked about what it means to receive this award, Castillo said, “It has shown me that I am able to do a lot more than what other people, or even sometimes myself, think I can do.” She reflected that while growing up she heard negative comments about Hispanic people: “It’s a good reminder that despite other things that people tell you, you are capable of doing great things, and helping others do great things, too.” 

As a full-time student, mother, worker, and volunteer, Kern has a strong passion for helping others. A prolific volunteer and advocate, Kern has frequently spoken at events about her experience living in the YWCA domestic violence shelter in 2017 and being one of the first participants in the Living in New Circumstances program. Through this program she was able to set goals for herself, access important resources, and find a passion for helping others. She has been extensively involved with Walla Walla’s Children’s Home Society, volunteering in community engagement and enrollment programs and collaborating with the organization’s leaders. She also serves on the Walla Walla Community Council. 

When asked about her career aspirations, Shayla said that she “will continue to work with children and families, promoting these programs within the community.” She also shared that she would like to work closely with nonprofit leaders and have hard conversations about what needs to change to continue promoting success in family and social life locally.  

Simons encouraged all students to get involved in service. “No matter what year you are or what you are studying, we care about you getting involved in the community,” he said. “Generosity in service doesn’t stop when you graduate,” he added. “We want our students to take their passion for service with them. 

To learn more about the importance of generosity in service at WWU or to get involved, visit wallawalla.edu/che.

Posted April 27, 2023

Congratulating award recipients
Group photo with award recipients