As a fashion merchandising student at the University of South Carolina, Amy Woodell felt a calling to skip the beach and the proverbial retail job during summer break. Instead, she participated in a summer mission program in Lusaka, Zambia. She was profoundly affected by the images of poverty and stories of oppression–so much so that upon her return, she couldn’t shake the hurt in her heart for the Zambian people.
Fascinated by the widowed women in poverty who had to be strong and care for little ones, Amy was compelled to act. In 2011, combining fashion merchandising experience with her passion to make a difference, she took a big leap of faith. Amy began the nonprofit corporation Clothed in Hope. Through this organization, Zambian women are provided with training in sewing as well as small business management and financial responsibility.
Amy now travels between the United States and Zambia, meeting and working with the women in the Clothed in Hope program. She says her greatest joy is living life for something greater than herself.
Grace (Dinah) Garcia
As the sun begins to rise, while most people are either still sleeping or just starting their day, there’s a good chance Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) homicide detective Dinah Garcia has already spent the past few hours collecting evidence, interviewing witnesses and working with forensic personnel at the scene of a crime in Los Angeles.
As a student at California State University - Fullerton, Dinah was a political science and criminal justice major and had plans to attend law school and eventually become a district attorney. All that changed, though, after she graduated and applied for an opening at the LAPD at the suggestion of her father (a veteran LAPD officer himself).
Once hired, she started out as a “street cop” and was then promoted to the gang unit in 2003. In 2008, Dinah was promoted to detective trainee, and the following year, she was promoted to homicide detective, her primary area of expertise ever since.
Dinah spends most of her time investigating crime scenes and chasing down and interviewing leads. She also spends time meeting and talking with victims’ families, keeping them updated on any developments in their loved one’s case. Dinah says, “The wonderful thing about being a detective is that it’s something different every day. No two cases are the same.”
In the summer of 2013, Indiana University junior Terrin Thomas participated in the Miss Indiana pageant for the first time. Much to her surprise, she was named the winner and took home the coveted Miss Indiana crown. She then began a three-month whirlwind of preparation for Miss America.
When Terrin was growing up, her mother directed the local county fair pageant, so she was always around fair queens. She and her sister would always peek around the corner when the young women came to the house, anxious to catch a glimpse of a sparkly crown or sash. However, as Terrin grew to understand pageants more thoroughly, she realized the crown was the smallest part of the equation.
Terrin says, “The Miss America Organization is about real, passionate young women who are aware of the world around them and work hard to develop and maintain a cause that is close to their hearts.” One cause close to Terrin’s heart is the Bloomington Playwrights Project (BPP), where she serves as an advocate for community engagement. She is the liaison between BPP and Indiana University and connects service-learning faculty and students with the mission of the organization. She truly believes in the power and benefits of service-learning and focuses on educating others on the concept and how they can get involved.
While Terrin was not crowned Miss America at the Atlantic City pageant in September, she is excited to continue spreading her service-learning message around the state as Miss Indiana through the remainder of her reign. Once she graduates with her degree in broadcast journalism, her dream job is to work for E! News or Good Morning America.
Alyssa Wehle, a member of the Kappa Xi chapter at the University of West Florida, serves on the national youth advisory board for the loveisrespect organization. Through her work with loveisrespect, Alyssa participates in a nationwide campaign to end the cycle of dating violence and make an impact on youth who may not be aware of resources available to them.
In July 2013, Alyssa traveled to California, where the national youth advisory board met to set goals for the upcoming year. Some of their work included discussing how to build advocacy, making plans to expand the loveisrespect campaign, learning how board members can share their stories and being trained to hold table and reach-out events.
Alyssa is passionate about raising awareness and speaking out against dating abuse because she believes it is a crucial issue that affects many people.
She says, “I believe that by standing up and talking about dating violence, I have encouraged those around me to use their voices to break the cycle of dating violence.” As a student advocate, she hopes to empower her peers and let them know it is okay to speak out against dating violence and that they are not alone.