#TrojanHeart challenges students to promote charity

Zach Henson


Trojan students, faculty and staff will soon be eligible for nomination for the Troy Trojan Heart award to promote a Trojan spirit and show what it means to have a #TrojanHeart.

The winner of the award will be asked to pick a favorite charity to which $1,000 will be donated in their honor, according to Lauren Cochran, the coordinator for the Office of Civic Engagement. According to Cochran, the second annual Troy Trojan Heart award is meant to call attention to the service that is woven into the spirit of being a Troy Trojan.

“We’d like to recognize genuine-hearted individuals who have taken it upon themselves to do something independently good for a community or for a need that exists,” Cochran said. “The Trojan family is very interested in caring for others.

“Students from all over the world are doing things not really for accolades or awards or anything, but just because they care for their fellow man; they care for their neighbor.”

According to Janice Hawkins, the first lady of Troy and the mastermind behind the Troy Trojan Heart initiative, caring for our neighbors is exactly what this award and having the Troy Trojan Heart is about.

“It’s not just good deeds,” Hawkins said. “It’s being thoughtful, it’s being kind, it’s doing something for someone else, it’s thinking of someone before yourself — it can be the smallest thing to the biggest thing.”

Last year, about 30 nominations were received, but three finalists and one winner were chosen.

Ashley Calloway won last year’s award for helping and spending time with children through the Chicktime Chapter and the Alabama Baptist Children’s Home in Dothan.

“I’m a little overwhelmed, but I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am,” Calloway told the Troy Messenger in 2018.

She chose to send her $1,000 donation to the Children’s Home, where she added that it would probably be used for a field trip, Christmas gifts or another special treat for the children there.

Seth Tyler, another finalist, held a workship position in the Office of Civic Engagement, but was “fully involved in the community,” according to his nomination. He helped out with the Campus Kitchens Initiative and participated in outreach programs at the Boys and Girls Club.

Tiffany Howington, the third finalist, worked to help those without a voice by dedicating large amounts of time to the Troy Animal Rescue Project.

Hawkins said she first came up with the idea for an award to highlight good deeds during a Super Bowl commercial last year. The commercial was for an insurance company, but it depicted multiple instances of people going out of their way to help others.

“It so touched me because I believe that higher education is not being portrayed in the best light in the media,” Hawkins said. “You can turn on just about any channel or station and hear about higher ed being criticized for everything — liberal beliefs, not helping, thinking only of themselves — I just don’t believe that’s fair.

“I know that our university is not that way.”

After facing a hard year of struggles for her family, Hawkins explained that she started seeing things in a different light.

“You think differently because you focus more on what really matters,” she said.

According to Cochran, nominations will open via an online form in mid-March and be announced via official emails. The nomination period will last for about a month.

Anyone can nominate another person for any good deed, but nominees are limited to current students, staff and employees.

After the nominations are received, a committee of school leaders will pick finalists and a winner of the award. The winner will be announced in late April.

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