Student News

Jessica Clemens receives Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award

Jessica Clemens, a senior majoring in child development and family studies, received the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award at the Chancellor’s Awards Ceremony on April 17, 2006. The award is given annually to a UNC-Chapel Hill student who has made the greatest contribution to the quality of campus life through participation in student programs.

In nominating Clemens for the award, Clinical Assistant Professor of Early Childhood Education Sharon Palsha highlighted some of her contributions:

“Jessica’s commitment to serving others has made a difference in the lives of many individuals both young and old and I am convinced that she will continue this service for her lifetime.

She is an active contributing member of her church. She was distraught that one of her classes met last semester on Wednesday evenings because she would not be able to attend her church group.

This semester she is student teaching, and when she found out she would not get UNC’s spring break but the school system’s spring break, she pleaded to begin student teaching 10 days early so that she could go with her church group to help build houses in New Orleans over UNC’s spring break. Currently, she is busy finishing her student teaching in order to help the people of New Orleans who were left homeless.”

As an illustration of Clemens’ desire to make a difference for children with disablities, Palsha related the following story:

“One of my best stories about Jessica is when she ran into my office after an exam last semester. She had just taken an exam in another department and she felt that one question on the exam stereotyped children with disabilities. She refused to answer the question and instead she wrote one-page response to the instructor informing her that none of the responses were correct in her judgment and why. I encouraged her to share her response with the whole class if the instructor would permit her to do so. A week later she was leading a section of the class to educate her fellow students about the strengths and gifts of children with disabilities, and to dispel the stereotypes that were outlined in their text book. I am confident that Jessica will continue to advocate for all children and families.”

In addition to achieving an outstanding academic record, Clemens has been an active participant in Habitat for Humanity throughout her college years. She also has volunteered with the UNC Dance a Thon.

After graduation, she will join the Peace Corps and teach children with special needs in the country of Jordan.