Three Coe students named recipients of Principal Community Scholars awards

Extra: Rod Pritchard, Secretary of the College
(319) 399-8605 or

2017-11-14 10:21:58 - General

Tirzah Gaul
Tirzah Gaul
Briana Gipson
Briana Gipson
Constance Schlitter
Constance Schlitter

Coe College students Tirzah Gaul, Briana Gipson and Constance Schlitter were three of 25 college students from Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin who were selected for the 2018 class of the Principal Community Scholars Program. The recipients were selected by Iowa Campus Compact after being nominated by faculty or staff from their college or university and a rigorous review process.

The program is designed to encourage student leadership to meet community needs. Selected students will receive a $1,000 scholarship from Principal upon completion of a service project. This is the second year of the program, which last year supported 20 students in Iowa and California.

"This year we decided to focus on students in the Midwest and got a strong pool of nominations," said Iowa Campus Compact Executive Director Emily Shields. "These students have a deep commitment to bringing business solutions to meet community issues."

This year's scholars proposed projects designed to engage their peers and their institutions. These projects tap into a variety of skills that can be offered by college students and will impact causes ranging from education to neighborhood vitality through research, fundraising, communications and other means.

Listed below are descriptions of the projects undertaken by Coe students and the great strides they are making to better the Cedar Rapids community.

Tirzah Gaul is creating a student-led program for first-generation college students that will allow them to talk about the advantages and disadvantages, learn from students and faculty, and let them know that they are not alone, while approaching first-generation status through a positive lens.

Briana Gipson will conduct an action research project. First, she will research existing financial literacy curriculum for African American households and women of color, and strategies for implementing financial education on college campuses. Next, she will implement and pilot the curriculum through Coe's Academic Achievement Program. Finally, she will assess the results and make recommendations and/or changes to the curriculum.

While Gipson's short-term goal is to provide financial education to her peers, her long-term goal is for the curriculum to be transferrable to the broader community, and ultimately to inspire financial freedom and economic justice for women of color. Her inspiration came from a research study she conducted with a faculty advisor exploring mortgage lending in Cedar Rapids. After learning black women were significantly less likely to be approved for mortgage loans, she became interested in financial education that addresses the unique experiences of people of color.

Constance Schlitter is currently working on an Enactus project that assists the Catherine McAuley Center in Cedar Rapids. The project is focused on creating a model that will be sustainable in assisting students of the center to obtain job skills.

There are a few main goals of the project. The team is going to be pairing with the Coe International Club so that students can create a resume template in multiple languages that align with the most commonly needed at the Catherine McAuley Center, so that those served by the center can begin to understand what a resume is. Then, Enactus members will host workshops to teach participants how to create professional resumes. Working with the Coe Center of Creativity and Careers, the Enactus team will then host mock interviews. Overall, the focus this semester is to expose those served by the Catherine McAuley Center to common requirements of obtaining a job in the American workplace.

Campus Compact is a national coalition of over 1,000 colleges and universities committed to the public purposes of higher education. The network is comprised of a national office and 34 state and regional affiliates.

As the only national higher education association dedicated solely to campus-based civic engagement, Campus Compact enables campuses to develop students' citizenship skills and forge effective community partnerships. The organization's resources support faculty and staff as they pursue community-based teaching and scholarship in the service of positive change.

Coe College offers superb academics and exciting co-curricular activities in a thriving urban setting that promotes student growth and success. Established in 1851, Coe has a national reputation for academic excellence enhanced by a student-centered, highly supportive campus environment. Coe's vibrant Cedar Rapids location provides an abundance of internships for students and career opportunities for graduates.