by Neree Aron-Sando
Montgomery County Community College Scholar in Service Nicole Weising, 24, was named the Young Woman of the Year the at the YWCA Tri-County Area 2011 Tribute to Exceptional Women in Pottstown on Nov. 4.
Nicole was nominated by College President Dr. Karen Stout.
“Nicole knows how to really participate in campus life,” Dr. Stout wrote in her nominating letter. “Besides simply completing the requirements for an associate’s degree at Montgomery County Community College, she has embraced a leadership role and is committed to community service.”
“This is our nod to the national YWCA’s Year of the Young Woman,” said Kathleen Martin, chair of the YWCA Tribute to Exceptional Women committee. The event honors the achievement, leadership and service of women committed to creating opportunities for other women, girls and families. “Nicole really made an impression on us.”
Nicole is also one of four AmeriCorp Scholars in Service to Pennsylvania at Montgomery County Community College. This year, her service hours are committed to Ministries on Main Street.
“This program is set up in Pottstown with the local churches and a family that funds it. The churches in the area will offer their facility to the homeless community during the cold months of November through April. The church provides a shelter, and volunteers contribute to the program by cooking breakfast and dinner every day for the residents,” Nicole explained.
AmeriCorps’ Scholars in Service to Pennsylvania, administered through the Philadelphia Higher Education Network for Neighborhood Development (PHENND) at the University of Pennsylvania, is a grant program that enables students to enroll as an AmeriCorps member on a part-time basis and receive an educational award at the end of his or her term. The award can be used to pay for any legitimate educational expense at current undergraduate institutions or to pay for future educational expenses, as well as to repay student loans. The students’ service work includes projects on campus as well as weekly hours spent at an external site in the community.
Nicole is president of Doug’s Corner, a student club at the College’s West Campus that engages in extensive community service. Last year, she led the group in preparing meals for homeless individuals served by Ministries on Main Street, and so far this year, the club has already participated in the Pottstown YMCA Halloween Safe House and trick-or-treating for canned goods to benefit Pottstown’s Cluster Outreach program.
During Hunger and Homelessness Week in November, Nicole and fellow Doug’s Corner members host sessions to teach students on campus to knit, making hats and mittens for the homeless. She also coordinates the College’s student involvement in WMMR’s Preston and Steve Campout for Hunger.
Guiding Doug’s Corner’s effort to help the homeless last year had a profound affect on Nicole.
“The people that I had the opportunity to meet changed my perspective on what homelessness really is,” she said. “Everyone seems to have the idea that by volunteering, they are not getting paid for work that they are doing; however, a volunteer does get ‘paid’ for [his or her] service. It may not be through monetary means but it through meeting new people, getting recognized for your efforts, the feeling of knowing you made a difference in someone else’s life, bringing hope and joy to someone you may never meet or know personally but knowing you made a difference.”
Nicole also is a member of the President’s Climate Commitment Council and as such she helps to coordinate and staff information tables on Campus Sustainability Day and during Earth Week.
Last year, she also joined Dr. Stout fellow student leaders in a trip to Harrisburg to advocate for support of community colleges, during which time she served as Senate chair for the West Campus Student Government Association.
A 2006 graduate of Souderton Area High School, Nicole expects to graduate from Montgomery County Community College in May and transfer to West Chester University, where she will pursue a bachelor’s degree in Education in the Early Years. She hopes to teach second or third grade and encourage community service efforts among her students.
“I hope that being a Scholar in Service will inspire my future students to give back to their own community and give me fun and exciting community service ideas,” she said.