Excelling Beyond the Classroom, Into the Community
Many University of Idaho scholars go above and beyond in the classroom, but senior Lynn McAlister is being rewarded for her efforts in the community as well.
A transfer student from American Falls, Idaho, McAlister has coordinated the Women’s Mentoring Program for two years as a work-study student, is a mentor through the Office of Multicultural Affairs and co-leads Social Forum. She is a volunteer at the Gritman Medical Center Cancer Resource Center and Orphan Acres Equine Rescue, Rehabilitation and Sanctuary. Two years ago, she also earned the student employee of the year award.
“It’s a great chance to be involved with people, especially young women who are at the beginning of their college career,” says McAlister, a first generation college student from a low-income family. “I want to be actively involved in helping people.”
Last year McAlister received the $2,000 Idaho Inclusiveness Coalition Human Rights Leadership Scholarship, funded by Hewlett-Packard. The annual award goes to one currently enrolled college junior or senior in the state of Idaho, who has at least a 3.0 GPA and has demonstrated involvement in human rights issues with influence beyond the university.
“Lynn is such an amazing person; she is driven to succeed, and her main measure of success is to make a difference in society, to improve the life chances of marginalized peoples,” says adviser and mentor Leontina Hormel, assistant professor of sociology. “I see rich potential in her future work as a health professional and leader for human rights.”
Currently a pre-med and sociology student, McAlister is also a McNair Scholar and Martin Scholar. She holds a 3.9 overall GPA and a 3.95 University GPA. After graduation this year, she hopes to be accepted by the Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho (WWAMI) Medical Program.
“I’d really like to be a doctor, but I’m not sure what my concentration will be yet,” says McAlister, who would eventually like to do a tour in Doctors Without Borders. “I like working to empower people; to give them a sense of control over their own situation.”
In 2009, McAlister also began working with the Palouse Peace Coalition to bring in nationally recognized speakers for a five-day visit to University of Idaho, Washington State University and the Moscow community to speak about human rights issues faced by U.S. veterans.
“You just can’t read about social injustice, you have to do something about it,” says McAlister, adding a veteran’s support group has been created as a result of the fall event. “It was a natural progression into activism.”
She also co-founded and produces a radio show “Radio Active” on KRFP 92.5 during Peace Radio every other Sunday from 2-4 p.m.
McAlister did not win the award by herself, as she thanked her parents and leaders she has met.
“There have been so many great people in my life that have helped shape who I am today,” says McAlister. “They have all been so supportive; I really feel like I want to do my best for them.”
McAlister already knows what she’s going to do with those funds: find a bigger apartment that will fit a kitchen table where she can study chemistry.