By Caitlin Nearhood, Ashland Times-Gazette education reporter, and used with permission from the Times-Gazette.
10/8/15 ASHLAND, Ohio -- The Ashland Center for Nonviolence at Ashland University introduced four new scholars on Wednesday morning (Oct. 7). AU first-year students Brianna Sargent, William Summers, Ryann Crockett and junior Emily Wirtz each received $1,000 scholarships from the Peace Scholars Program, established this school year, through the center.
Last year, students interested in becoming peace scholars had to write a 500-word essay, stating what nonviolence means to them, which had the most weight on their admittance to the program. They also provided references.
"Most of them ended up writing about things closer to home and reflecting on things they experienced at their high school," said Craig Hovey, the executive director of the Center for Nonviolence, who noted that students preferred to talk about bullying and conflicts between students over broader themes like war.
Students' GPAs and SAT/ACT scores also aided in the decision, but they didn't have as much weight. Before the final selection, students also were interviewed by Hovey. The winners were announced last spring.
Scholars are free to major in any field of study but must minor in ethics, according to Hovey.
Summers, a Columbus native studying religion and communication, said he chose to minor in ethics because it went with both of his majors.
Crockett, a Lima native studying English, first saw the minor in ethics as just a requirement.
"Eventually, I became more interested in (the minor) after being in my Christian ethics class," she said.
Both agreed that they wanted to impact people on campus by practicing nonviolence in everyday life.
Having been an intern at the center for two years, Wirtz, a Youngstown native studying psychology, creative writing and religion, said she was excited to find out that she was chosen to be a scholar.
"I was like, 'Wow, that's really cool that I can be both' " an intern and a scholar, she said.
Wirtz added that she wants to go into community social activism, social work or event planning.
As participants in the program, scholars will have several unique opportunities, like being able to talk with speakers of center-sponsored events in informal settings and ask questions about their work to pursue nonviolence. Scholars will have chances to learn about conflict resolution and eventually be able to train middle and high school students about how to handle conflict resolution in their environment.
"(The high school students) will learn how to listen and bring people together," Hovey said.
Additionally, scholars will have individualized advising sessions, conversations about what they want to do with their ethics minor while on campus. Hovey said that advising sessions also can function as mentoring for special projects. For instance, Hovey is assisting Wirtz on her research project about violence in sports that she will present at the center's Sports and Violence Conference next March.
"It's gearing towards interests and going for opportunities with their interests," Hovey said.
In order to keep their scholarship, scholars must maintain a 3.0 GPA in all classes and be involved in the work of the center by volunteering their time at a certain number of events sponsored by the center.
The Peace Scholars Program is funded solely through donations, which are needed each year. Some donors are university faculty and staff while others are community members with no connection to the university.
"The Center for Nonviolence is tied to the peace tradition of the Brethren church," said AU President Carlos Campo. "We believe (the Peace Scholar Program) is separated from similar programs at other universities because it's not a short-term peace tradition; it's really getting at how we as humans can look at war and other acts of violence and talk about ways to help resolve conflict over four years.
"I feel like (the) center can speak about nonviolence and bridge communities together," he added.
Upcoming events sponsored by ACN include a talk with Traci Molloy, a Brooklyn-based artist and social activist, in the "Power of the Press" exhibition event at 7 p.m. today at the Dauch College of Business and Economics Ridenour Room. Through media like painting, printmaking, photography and digital arts, Molloy's work delves into topics like adolescent culture, loss and violence. The event is open to the public.