"Gettysburg prepares agents of change, care givers, visionaries, strategists, and global citizens.”
- Allan Kawala '13
When Allan Kawala '13 began his first year at Gettysburg College in 2009, he was prepared for the change. "I've always told myself it doesn't matter where I find myself. What matters at the end of the day is the attitude, the approach," he says. Kawala first heard about Gettysburg through the United States Student Achievers Program (USAP), a program offered by the U.S. Embassy in Malawi that introduces students to the American educational system and assists with the application and orientation processes. USAP identified Gettysburg College as an institution with excellent financial aid opportunities for international students. Kawala, who was familiar with the Gettysburg Address, felt an instant connection with the College and applied Early Decision.
One might say that the title of Allan Kawala’s First-Year Seminar— “Learning Is not a Spectator Sport”—set the tone for his Gettysburg experience. By his second year on campus, the sociology major had already conducted nationwide research into living options for adults with Down Syndrome, worked as a leadership mentor in the Garthwait Leadership Center, and researched women in leadership at the Eisenhower Institute. “With the Down Syndrome research, I had the opportunity to bring classroom experience to a realworld issue,” says Kawala. With passionate interests in education, the environment, and health issues, he envisions a future in public policy research. “Gettysburg prepares agents of change, care givers, visionaries, strategists, and global citizens,” he says. “I believe the world is at a point where it desperately needs such people.”
Kawala hopes to one day apply his work within sociology to the struggle for peace among different cultures in Malawi. Through participating in Toastmasters, a club designed to help members improve their leadership and public speaking skills, and eRace, a group that meets weekly to engage in racial justice dialogue, Kawala gained the confidence and skills necessary to make his dream a reality. Kawala submitted a proposal for the Davis Projects for Peace grant through the Center for Public Service at Gettysburg College, and his project was approved for the summer of 2012. As part of his Project for Peace, Kawala organized a group of nearly 20 people in Malawi to discuss the importance of embracing differences and striving toward peace. Although the group was small, they sought to deliver their message to a wider audience by composing a song that would promote peace and collaboration.
As the ripples of his Project for Peace continue to expand, Kawala has been making waves at Gettysburg as well. Since his sophomore year, he has served as a leadership mentor for the Garthwait Leadership Center (GLC). In this position, he became closely involved with the Leadership Institute, a semester-long, seminar-style leadership experience offered to students. The program explores leadership through social justice issues and culminates at the end of the spring semester with a week-long immersion project at an off campus location.
Last year, Kawala took a group of 12 students from the Leadership Institute (pictured below) to Abilene, Kansas, and Little Rock, Arkansas, where they toured the Eisenhower Library and Museum, participated in the Five Star Leadership Program, and followed in the footsteps of the Little Rock Nine at Little Rock Central High School.