Kimmins Southard, our intern through Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, was a front page news story in today's The News Record:
Published: Thursday, May 26, 2011
Updated: Thursday, May 26, 2011 01:05
Kimmins Southard, a Cincinnatus scholar and prominent advocate of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer community at the University of Cincinnati has been named the UCs 2011 C-Ring award winner.
A fourth-year social work student, Kimmins was honored with the award at the annual C-Ring banquet May 14 for a devotion to academic excellence, service, leadership and advocacy for women and girls on campus and in the community.
The C-Ring award "recognizes women who work to improve the quality of life in our communities and who feel a responsibility to the greater world and to advancing the status of women and girls," according to UC Women's Center's website. The first C-Ring was awarded in 1922.
"I was ecstatic when I found out that I was one of the end finalists and just excited for that honor in and of itself," Southard said. "I found out that I was the recipient at the same time as everyone else. I was shocked."
Southard, in addition to being a Cincinnatus scholar and advocate for the LGBTQ community, also participated in the racial awareness program RAPP, where students educated each other and debated social justice issues.
Southard also served as a peer advocate in the UC Women's Center Reclaim program, a health educator with the UC Wellness Center and was a participant in the Ohio Council of Advocates for Youth, which encourages a positive and realistic approach regarding adolescent sexual health.
"It feels fantastic to be recognized for all of the advocacy work I have done while at UC," Southard said. "It has been a long four years, and all my hard work would still have been worth it without receiving any awards. However, it feels really great and really validating to know that UC has recognized all my hard work."
Receiving the award has empowered Kimmins to believe that changes can still be made in the community through hard work and perseverance.
"It has definitely motivated me to bring the same energy with me in my future endeavors and not to give up fighting the good fight for social justice," Southard said.
That energy impressed one UC faculty member.
"What has impressed me most is Southard's willingness to take risks as they challenge themselves and others to make this campus and community better," said Ruth Anne Van Loon, an associate professor of social work. "[Southard's] risk-taking is not impulsive but rather well-considered and planned."
Best known for LGBTQ advocacy, Southard said the UC LGBTQ community has made huge strides during the last four years.
"This year we have an independent LGBTQ Center with a full-time staff person, which is something I advocated for starting my first year of college," Southard said. "It is very exciting to see all of the changes at UC over the last four years, both with policy changes and with the changes in the attitudes and knowledge of the student body and UC faculty and staff."
Southard credited their parents with encouraging their passion for social justice.
"My parents provided me with unbiased and honest information about reproductive right," Southard said. "And as result of this guidance, I gained valuable insight about the status of women's rights."