2010 Lindley Award Recipient
College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences - Outstanding Senior
At 22, Elisa Briesmeister has already lived in places that most people will never see. Fresh out of high school, she joined the “Youth With A Mission” program and went to South America and lived in Chile, Ecuador and Peru. Later, as a University of Idaho student she was a summer intern at the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa in Accra Ghana. Geographically and otherwise, if you ask the 2010 Lindley Award recipient where she would most like to be it would be “a place of influence . . . a point of impact.”
Graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies and another B.A. in Spanish, with a minor in Psychology, Elisa intends to find that place by using her education to help young people understand the dangers of human trafficking.
Originally from Selah, Washington, Elisa says that many things in her life have contributed to foster her interest in the subject. She credits her faith and her family, who instilled the importance of education and the care-taking instinct. Built on this foundation, she adds that her travels along with the eye opening experiences she has had while at the University of Idaho - even as a first year student, have played a major part in her evolution.
“I want to serve people with my life and transform others through the work I do.”
This process of transformation is something Elisa has experienced firsthand. From being a tutor in the Tutoring and Academics Assistance Program and the executive events coordinator of the Residence Hall Association, to being a head delegate to the National Model United Nations and singing in the jazz choir, she immersed herself in campus life. However, it is her participation in the events and programs of the Martin School of International Studies that ultimately fed her desire to work with the children that are vulnerable to human trafficking and exploitation.
“In a Globalization Core Discovery course*, my eyes were opened to a fundamental understanding of the positive and negative repercussions of our ever-changing world, and what I learned about the globalization of sexual exploitation echoed with what I had witnessed during my year in South America and would later see again in Africa.”
This revelation was later reinforced by meeting Iain Campbell-Smith and Sister Lorraine Garasu, who were the keynote speakers at the 2007 Borah Symposium, where she acted as a Martin School of International Studies student volunteer. At the symposium, she learned about Campbell-Smith and Garasu’s work with a local women’s organization to establish peace in Bougainville and rebuild the lives of its traumatized citizenry.
“My advisor, Dr. Bill Smith - Director of the Martin School, encouraged me to engage personally with Sister Lorraine . . . This moment made a significant impact on me because while just a freshman, Dr. Smith emboldened me to explore future applications of what I had been learning.”
Smith cites this ability to apply her knowledge as one of her greatest assets.
“Elisa innately balances many characteristics that may seem like opposites but combine in terrific fashion - confidence and humility, leading and following, knowledge and acknowledgement of what there is left to learn.”
Understanding this, Elisa plans on continuing her education by pursuing a Masters of Arts in Teaching through the University of Portland's Pacific Alliance for Catholic Education teaching program, which will take her to Salt Lake City to teach middle school Spanish.
However, before she starts this new chapter in her life, Elisa is off to Pichilemu, Chile. While there, she plans on visiting friends and helping with earthquake relief. Pichilemu was devastated by the February 2010 quake and tsunami that followed - not surprisingly, Elisa is once again putting herself at “a place of influence and a point of impact.”
* The Globalization course was taught as part of the University Honors Program, which also supported her education with a honors scholarship. She was an active member of the program while at the University of Idaho, achieving the prestigious University Honors Program Certificate.
The Lindley Award was created by Ernest K. Lindley as a memorial to his parents Ernest H. and Elizabeth K. Lindley. His father served as the president of the University of Idaho from 1917 – 1920. Students who apply to be considered for the award are selected by a panel of distinguished educators from the College of Letters, Arts & Social Sciences. FIND OUT MORE