Shaley White, Leoti, is not the typical college sophomore. Only 17 years old, White is in her second year of college and is a high school senior at the Kansas Academy of Mathematics at Science at Fort Hays State University.
White has also taken on the leadership position of co-coordinator of the American Democracy Project, an initiative that encourages engaged citizenship.
“Getting involved in a community strengthens the community as well as the individual,” said White. “I get involved because I love to build relationships and see how the things I do positively influence others. Once you start getting involved, it’s pretty addictive.”
White recently organized and coordinated ADP’s Ben Franklin Papers program, at which 300 fifth-graders from the Hays area learned about Franklin and saw two of his original, handwritten letters, which are in the collections of the university’s Forsyth Library. ADP, the library, and the Department of Teacher Education sponsored the event.
“The Ben Franklin Papers was a tremendous success and such a blast,” White said. “We did a post-event essay competition that really showed me the benefits of doing the event. The kids learned a lot and had an awesome time. The collaboration with the other departments was wonderful as well.”
Sandi Grigoryan, project coordinator for the Center for Civic Leadership, said White’s young age does not hinder her ability to lead, but instead empowers her.
“Shaley is unique because she is a highly-motivated problem solver, especially for her age,” Grigoryan said. “When she is given a task or has an idea, she brings it to completion without being stumped or set back by a hurdle. Not many people believe that she is so young when they interact with her because of her mature understanding of what’s important in life and her ability to lead. She’s creative, intelligent and passionate about her work. These qualities will take her far in life.”
White said ADP has benefitted her in many ways by increasing her civic involvement and improving her leadership skills.
“It can do the same for everyone else on campus by providing educational opportunities as well as outlets for expressing their views and learning how to collaborate with others,” she said.
White is one of two coordinators of ADP. Her fellow co-coordinator is Carolyn Campbell, Wheat Ridge, Colo., sophomore.
“Carolyn is unique because she has a passion for civic engagement, politics and how they work together to accomplish a greater cause,” said Grigoryan. “She has the ability to see the bigger picture and work for the common good.”
FHSU is a national leader in the ADP movement and played a large role in developing some of its national programs, Grigoryan said. The FHSU chapter of ADP is currently creating “ADP 2.0,” a program to better fit the needs and issues of today’s society.
For more information on the FHSU chapter of ADP, go to www.fhsu.edu/adp/.