The Rock Ethics Institute

Initiatives

2011 Award Recipients

Jeff Brozena

Jeff Brozena 2011 Stand Up Poster

Class of 2011
Information Sciences and Technology
Penn State University Park
Nominated by Erich Scheinke 

For his commitment to establishing a community where understanding and hope can gradually replace ignorance and fear.

Video: Michael Podolski, Blackbird Media Group, Inc.

Read More About Jeff

The Penn State Rock Ethics Institute is proud to recognize the ethical leadership Jeff has demonstrated in standing up against social stigma and for members of the community who are struggling in one way or another with mental illness. His commitment to socially useful design and to universal accessibility has led him to create a free mobile phone application (or app) that will provide those who are coping with mental health issues a discrete and efficient way of seeking help for themselves, their friends, and their loved ones.

Realizing that technical solutions are only part of what is really needed to address this complex problem, Jeff also founded a local chapter of Active Minds at Penn State. Affiliation with a national organization dedicated to raising awareness concerning both mental health and mental illness provides some of the social and institutional context that is necessary for technical solutions like the one he is working on to have a lasting impact.

Jeff's work shows a willingness to stand up against the social stigma associated with mental health issues and mental illness, an ability to resist the pressure that consumerism exerts on the world of technological design, and a commitment to establishing a more open and accepting community where understanding and hope can gradually replace ignorance and fear.  All of these characteristics make Jeff Brozena the kind of leader that we judge to be especially deserving of our recognition, admiration, and emulation.


Ruth Canagarajah

Ruth Canagarajah 2011 Stand Up Poster

Class of 2012
International Politics, and Sociology
Schreyer Honors Scholar
Paterno Liberal Arts Undergraduate Fellow
Penn State University Park
Nominated by Jack Selzer

For reminding us that ethical leadership requires that we be just as willing to listen and to help others hear, as we are to make our own voices heard.

Video: Michael Podolski, Blackbird Media Group, Inc.

Read More About Ruth

The Penn State Rock Ethics Institute is proud to recognize the ethical leadership Ruth has demonstrated in standing up for social justice and collaborative empowerment by helping some to find a voice through which to express themselves and others to find the ears through which to hear and listen. A native Sri Lankan whose family left its homeland during the height of recent religious and ethnic struggles, Ruth has dedicated herself to helping the youth in post-war Sri Lanka cope and express themselves in creative and constructive ways through playwriting.

The Paalam Project, which she named after the Tamil word for “bridge,” is intended to help span the considerable divides that exist among Sri Lankans as well as those that exist between the situation in Sri Lanka and our awareness of it in the United States. By encouraging Sri Lankan youth to take up playwriting, and then translating their plays into English, and working with Penn State students to produce them, Ruth has provided unique opportunities for cross-cultural exchange and understanding.

Whether working with Sri Lankan youth, tutoring other students in English, or counseling at the Women’s Resource Center, Ruth exhibits a consistent commitment to empowering others through collaborative exchanges where all parties are recognized for the particular experiences and perspectives they bring to the process. She recognizes that ethical leadership requires that we be just as willing to listen and to help others hear as we are to make our own voices heard. This makes Ruth Canagarajah the kind of leader that we judge to be especially deserving of our recognition, admiration, and emulation.


Sara Kizer

Sara Kizer 2011 Stand Up Poster

Class of 2011
Health Policy and Administration, and Economics
Schreyer Honors Scholar 
Penn State University Park
Nominated by Dennis Shea

For helping her peers to develop ethically motivated responses to the needs of others.

Video: Michael Podolski, Blackbird Media Group, Inc.

Read More About Sara

The Penn State Rock Ethics Institute is proud to recognize Sara for the ethical leadership she has displayed in not simply recruiting people to do volunteer work, but in helping her recruits become aware of the obligations we assume when we commit ourselves to doing good for others. Sara’s leadership is evidenced by the courageous way in which she set about changing the status quo within an organization that was already generally recognized for its charitable work.

As president of Student United Way at Penn State, Sara was forced to deal with the sometimes-significant difference between doing the right thing because it is somehow advantageous to oneself, and doing the right thing because it is what one ought to do. We all know that being a member of a philanthropic organization looks good on a resume, and it can be all too easy to forget why this is the case when we are focused narrowly on distinguishing ourselves on paper from others who have similarly impressive achievements. Even if our decision to join is motivated by such concerns, becoming a functional member of the organization requires that we be able to look beyond our own interests, consider the other members of the group, and, even more importantly, the needs of the people for whose benefit such groups exist.

By encouraging others to see that this is really what they signed up for, and that the responsibilities they willingly assumed should not be taken lightly, Sara has helped her peers to develop ethically motivated responses to the needs of other human beings. This makes Sara Kizer the kind of leader that we judge to be especially deserving of our recognition, admiration, and emulation.

Poster Photography: ©michael black | BLACK SUN®
Poster Design: Jason Oakman

Awards Ceremony and Reception

April 10, 2011