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Finalists compete to win fall 2021 Community Impact Challenge

Finalist teams for the fourth annual Community Impact Challenge will pitch to a panel of judges composed of members from the Emporia community and Emporia State University at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 27. Finalists have a chance to win a grant to put their ideas to address challenges facing the Emporia community into action by the end of the 2021-22 school year.

The CIC is a grant competition that seeks to inspire students of ESU to make an impact on challenges facing the community. This year three teams of ESU students, each with three to five members, have been selected as finalists to present their ideas before a panel of judges. This year’s judges include Blythe Eddy, director of student activities and community service in ESU’s Center for Student Involvement; Chris Loghry, director of debate and an instructor in the Department of Communication & Theatre; Shelby Perez, an ESU alumna and a sexual health social worker at Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health; Eliza Rinck, graduate assistant in the Center for Student Involvement; and Mickey Edwards, executive director of the United Way of the Flint Hills.

Finalists will record presentations of 10 to 12 minutes about their proposed solution to address a pressing challenge facing the Emporia community. Judges will then choose a winner to receive a $500 grant to carry out their proposed solution, which must be completed by May 2022. The CIC is sponsored by Community Hornets, Department of Communication and Theatre and the Honors College at ESU.

The CIC aims to inspire ESU to partake in community engagement. The finalists have proposed to work with local organizations to develop meaningful and creative solutions to real-life community issues. This year’s finalists are addressing community challenges such as food insecurity, mental health and stray animals.

This year there are three finalist teams:Campus Food Access: International Committee, Students Stomp the Stigma, and Happy Paws.

The members of The Campus Food Access: International Committee are Margaret Mellott, Aaron Clark, and Ryuto Sagawa, who are focused on spreading awareness and connecting international students with food resources on campus. Their project will be split into two main efforts: (a) putting up posters promoting Corky's Cupboard in multiple languages, and (b) working in the community to create online cooking classes. These classes will connect students with resources to create healthy and balanced meals, which are essential in helping students do their best while at ESU.

Students Stomp the Stigma members include Courtenay Craig, Whitney Mayberry and Sandra Koskela who are focused on college students' mental health on ESU’s campus and in the surrounding community. College students have always struggled with mental health, and they are hoping to alleviate some of the stress of homework and exams by providing resources and information to help destigmatize the mental health conversation so that people are more comfortable reaching out for support.

Members of Happy Paws include Kaci Rollmann, Eric Galbreath, Ana Valdez Saravia and

Masayuki Kuraoka who hope to gather donations for the Humane Society of the Flint Hills to help the organization in the wake of the returns of "Quarantine Pets." They plan to hold their donation drive on Nov. 20 to make sure these lovable, and often forgotten, animals also get a Thanksgiving meal.

The CIC Finals will be aired virtually and anyone is able to watch the presentations to learn more about each team and their proposals as well as find out who the winner of the 2021 CIC is by visiting Hornet Live ( at 5 p.m. Oct. 27.

Previous winners of the CIC include

  • The KDP Mask Tree Committee, a project led by members of the Iota Chapter of Kappa Delta Pi, an international honor society in education. The team included Bailey Hardie, Kalliope Craft, Chelsea Williams and Alexander Reid who successfully provided clean and reusable masks for free on ESU’s campus as well as for the Emporia school district.
  • Hygienic Hornets, an effort led by students Haylee Weissenbach, Marisleysis Velazquez and Boone Dodson that focused on providing students in need in Emporia Public Schools with a gift bag filled with personal hygiene products.
  • Bag-A-Birthday, the first winner, was an effort led by students Moon Castro, Delaney Dold and Genevieve Lowery to provide low-income families in Emporia with supplies to celebrate a child’s birthday.

For more information on the Community Impact Challenge, please go to