Congratulations to Ms. Karina Agarwal and Ms. Kendelle Pitts, the inaugural winners of the Lavelle Leaders Awards! These students have demonstrated outstanding leadership skills by identifying critical needs in their communities and coalescing the strategies, resources, and partners necessary to effect change.
The Lavelle Leaders Awards were established to recognize outstanding scholars who have demonstrated the highest level of academic achievement and whose leadership experiences and school, career, or community engagement have made a significant impact. The Awards are open to college juniors and seniors as well as graduate students who are legally blind and attend one of the 12 Lavelle Fund Tri-State New York area partnering colleges and universities. The two winning applicants stood out as exemplars of outreach, team-building, and leadership skills; their efforts and perseverance have directly impacted hundreds of individuals, and are likely to serve many more in the future. Both impressive and inspiring, they are true role models for their peers.
As a busy pre-law student, Ms. Agarwal has put her problem-solving and leadership skills to excellent use in varied projects, including partnering with directors of healthcare networks on measures to improve support services and clinical outcomes for hospital patients, and creating “Bungee Box,” a highly acclaimed program (with potential to become a non-profit organization) delivering food and personal care items to the people and communities who need them most.
In addition to studying chemistry, Ms. Pitts is a volunteer and advocate for several non-profit organizations. In working with a team providing outreach to homeless individuals in her community, she immediately recognized the special needs of the women she served, particularly regarding the lack of feminine hygiene products. Through outreach and collaboration with service agencies, community leaders, media outlets, and merchants, Ms. Pitts formed “Pad-emonium”, an ongoing collection drive (with potential to become a non-profit organization), distributing essential supplies to women in need across the state.
These examples are only the highlights of the many academic and civic accomplishments of these outstanding young women, who embody the spirit of the Lavelle Leaders Award, demonstrating that true leaders are change-makers determined to persevere despite obstacles–including a global pandemic– to make a significant, lasting impact on their communities.
The Lavelle Fund for the Blind is a charitable grant-making foundation dedicated primarily to supporting programs that help individuals who are blind or visually impaired live independent and productive lives. The Lavelle Fund offers the Lavelle-Brother Kearney Scholarship Program and the Lavelle Leaders Awards to select students annually.