Free Press Editor Honored for Leadership
by Ali Khan, age 16
Simpson Street Free Press assistant editor Stephanie Sykes was recently recognized by the University of Wisconsin-Madison for her leadership.
Sykes won the Leadership Certificate, which recognizes students who have made an outstanding contribution to the Madison community. Sykes was one of 50 students out of several thousand possible winners honored. The program was established in 2002 by members of the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs at UW-Madison. The program defines leadership as "the ability to mobilize self and others toward a common goal," which signifies that leadership is an action, not a position. The Leadership Certificate award was created to recognize personal commitment of leaders who create an impact on the individual, group, and community levels.
To be eligible for the Leadership Certificate award, Sykes had to complete a minimum of 100 hours of leadership education and experience fulfilled by: leadership roles, academic courses, civic engagement, out-of-class learning, and work experience.
Sykes served as a teen leader of BRIDGE, an international friendship program that seeks to bridge the gap of cross-cultural understanding. Sykes said at her experiences at BRIDGE, "I learned that the best leaders are those who can share passion and motivation with others, not just fulfill a sense of duty."
She also volunteered at Lapham Elementary's after-school program through Badger Volunteers which accounted for the award's civic engagement requirement.
A portion of Sykes' leadership hours were dedicated to an out-of-class learning experience in which she spent her time meditating. She also studied in the Virgin Islands, where she helped restore a sugar mill plantation and studied its history.
Meeting the last award requirement of work experience, Sykes served as a staff writer for SSFP, an after-school academic newspaper program for elementary to high school students. Working in the SSFP newsroom since 2008, she has progressed to the role of an editor, literary specialist, and book club leader. Sykes said the elementary, middle and high school students she has worked with at the Simpson Street Free Press have challenged her to put aside her own insecurities in order to help every student achieve academically. She said the Simpson Street Free Press "has been the most influential experience of her college career."
After receiving the award, Sykes was eligible to wear a special graduation cord recognizing her achievement. Though Sykes has graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and International Studies, her education is not over. Sykes plans to combine her interests of teaching and intercultural understanding by teaching English in Germany this fall.