December 13, 2018

Three chosen to receive Purdue's initial Jefferson Awards for community service

Three exemplars of Purdue's commitment to engaging the community have been selected as the first employee cohort to receive the Jefferson Award through Purdue's partnership with the Jefferson Awards Foundation.

The three honorees are Sandra San Miguel, associate dean for engagement in the College of Veterinary Medicine; William Harper, professor emeritus of health and kinesiology; and Gloria Sachdev, clinical assistant professor of pharmacy practice.

In Purdue's partnership with the foundation, announced in April, the University has joined in the foundation's Champions program. Along with the recognition carried by the awards, the program helps people at participating businesses and educational institutions engage with youth and use co-branding opportunities to strengthen community outreach. Up to three Purdue honorees are to be recognized in each fall and spring semester, totaling up to six per year. Announcement of the spring nomination period will be forthcoming.

Sandra San Miguel, also a professor of veterinary clinical sciences, was nominated for her creation of the "This is How We 'Role'" program, which uses games and books to show grade school children what veterinary work is like and to inspire their interest in sciences. The program, which arose from her 2013 initiative to provide after-school and summer camp programming with Hanna Community Center, has been adopted in at least 12 other U.S. locations with the help of a grant from the National Institutes of Health.

San Miguel's nominator emphasized her passion for science, her dedication to children, and her lively effectiveness as a role model with children -- one who also inspires students in the college to join in and become role models. In addition, the nomination states, she has directed her efforts at a population that is diverse and often not envisioning any rewarding science-based career. Her dedication to serving extends also to leadership in professional associations.

William Harper, though retired in 2016 from the faculty, continues as director of PALS, or Purdue Athletes for Life Success, which he helped found in 2002. Through determination to keep PALS afloat after a federal funding source ended, Harper has enabled the program to touch the lives of 400 children from low-income area families every summer. Instead of possible idleness and temptations, the youngsters, ages 8-14, spent four weeks in a constructive environment structured around four character pillars: respect, responsibility, caring and courage. They participate in learning about STEM fields, computer programming, finance, nutrition and career development, as well as gaining exposure to and skills in dance, art, swimming, judo and videography.

Harper's nomination indicates that he took the loss of the federal program as an opportunity for the program to expand its aims, and it continues to add features while maintaining a broad reputation as a model summer program.

Gloria Sachdev, starting in 2009, moved steadily to professional pharmacy leadership in Indiana by forming an advocacy effort for a state law permitting pharmacists to partner with physicians. Assisted by a team of six other pharmacists, two legislators and two representatives of the state pharmacist association, she led drafting and strategy that led to a state law in 2011. It has served Hoosiers by making pharmacist expertise more accessible.

In doing this work, she gained a passion for health policy and led pharmacists' policy and legislative efforts until 2018, producing 20 laws. One requires that when schools in Indiana purchase emergency medications, those medications must have at least 12 months before expiration; previously those medications would have as little as three months of usability. Others involve immunization, smoking cessation, telepharmacy and medication synchronization. Through such successes, she has led a large number of Indiana pharmacists to see public policy as a means to improve health care in the state. She also has mentored numerous pharmacy students.

Jefferson Awards Foundation

The Jefferson Awards Foundation is the nation's most prestigious and longest-standing organization dedicated to powering and celebrating public service. The organization honors thousands of grassroots unsung heroes each year, partners with champions to engage their employees and communities in service, and gives young leaders confidence in their ability to make a difference and the skills they need to do it well. The Jefferson Awards Foundation was founded in 1972 by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Sen. Robert Taft Jr., and Sam Beard.

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