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Earlier this week Georgetown College's Devon Golden got news she never thought possible.
"I knew it was a slim chance," the sophomore said. "I kind of went into it expecting the worst, but was really excited that the Red Cross/NAIA Collegiate Leadership Program selected me."
Through this initiative, student-athletes will learn from civic and business leaders how to uncover their leadership potential off the field. The participants will organize successful campus blood drives, actively participate on a leadership board, and take part in diversity and cultural competency training. For their efforts, students will receive scholarship support provided by the Red Cross and State Farm Insurance.
Golden's timid approach was due in large part to the knowledge that the program, entering its fifth year of existence, already had a Georgetown student-athlete representative.
Katie Filiatreau participated in the first year of the program. When Golden applied, it was with the understanding that both the NAIA and the Red Cross prefer to choose athletes from institutions that have not already had a participant.
However, Golden did not back down from the challenge and worked hard on the application process. When she was selected for a follow-up interview, it was again stressed to her that it was unlikely she would be selected.
A week later, a release was sent out and Golden's name was one of the 11 athletes to be chosen.
"I'm excited to get this opportunity, and I'm looking forward to getting the leadership skills this experience will provide," the Ohio native said.
As part of its support of the Red Cross diversity initiatives, State Farm Insurance is sponsoring this partnership. The leadership program kicks off with two weeks of energetic training at the Red Cross National Headquarters located in Washington, D.C. from June 5 to June 18. The incoming class will participate in a rare and unique opportunity to acquire first-hand coaching, mentoring and professional leadership training presented by the Red Cross, one of the nation's largest non-profit organizations. In addition, Lori Thomas, NAIA Senior Vice President for Champions of Character, and Kristin Gillette, Director of Champions of Character, will hold character workshops during the two week leadership academy.
"Athletics plays such an important role in creating a sense of community on college campuses.The partnership with the NAIA has createda richopportunityto connect campus communitieswith the life- savingmission of the Red Cross through the energy of NAIA student-athletes," said Brian Hamil, Red Cross National Chair Biomedical Services. "As we enter our fifth year of the program, weremain grateful for the continuing financial support of State Farm Insurance."
"I thought Devon was an obvious nomination for this," said GC Coach Johnson. "I saw this as being a win-win for the Red Cross and Devon."
Through this program, Georgetown College women's basketball team regularly sponsors and organizes blood drives. Started by Filiatreau, current senior Emily Drees and junior Gina Beining have continued this tradition.
"We are extremely proud of the relationship we have built with the American Red Cross and State Farm Insurance.Student-athletes selected for this leadership academy have an amazing opportunity to further their skill sets, build lifelong relationships while carrying out a very important mission," Thomas said. "To know that over 50 NAIA student-athletes produced an increase of blood drives on college campuses, an increase of blood collections and brought in more than 2,000 first-time donors is incredible, and we could not be more proud."
Golden is ready to continue informing Georgetown College students about the necessity of blood donation as well as learning about more of the Red Cross programs.
"I know every day from around 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. we will be in conferences to learn the ins-and-outs of the Red Cross," she said. "I'm looking forward to bringing that back to Georgetown and taking a further initiative on what Gina and Emily have already done."
Other student-athletes selected for the 2011-12 program were: Rachel Blonsky (Carlow University, Pa.); Hannah Martin (Central Christian College, Kan.), Julie Teepal (Columbia College, S.C.); Shannon Griffith (Oklahoma Baptist University); Whitney Sweet (Taylor University, Ind.); Randon McNeil (Mount Vernon Nazarene University, Ohio); Stephanie Belokon (Judson University, Ill.); Cameron Mettenbrink (Hastings College, Neb.); Jazmine Green (Fisk University, Tenn.); and Lauren Buckles (Ottawa University).