Press Release

April 23, 2014 | By Cole Hatcher

Ohio Wesleyan Student Honored for Work to Improve Lives in Vietnam

Carly Zalenski, a junior at Ohio Wesleyan University, has earned a 2014 Charles J. Ping Award for her outstanding leadership and commitment to community service. Here, she spends time at a school in Vietnam, where she completed an internship with the East Meets West Foundation in 2013. She also has raised funds to help build two schools in Vietnam. (Photo courtesy of Carly Zalenski)

DELAWARE, Ohio – At age 12, Carly Zalenski began raising funds to build schools in Vietnam. Within four years, she had founded the charitable organization “Kids Building Hope,” raised more than $75,000, and visited Vietnam twice to witness the opening of elementary schools constructed, in large part, through her efforts.

During her three years at Ohio Wesleyan University, Zalenski has participated in mission trips to El Salvador and Nicaragua, spent a summer working in Vietnam with the East Meets West Foundation, and gained hands-on experience in nonprofit management and grant-writing at Delaware, Ohio’s Andrews House, a community center housing multiple social services agencies.

For her outstanding leadership and commitment to community service, Zalenski has earned a 2014 Charles J. Ping Student Community Service Award from the Ohio Campus Compact. Based in Granville, Ohio, the compact is a nonprofit coalition of Ohio colleges and universities working to promote and develop the civic purposes of higher education.

“Carly is an inspiration to all of us,” Ohio Wesleyan President Rock Jones, Ph.D., said in nominating Zalenski for the Ping Award. “Her deep passion and sustained commitment are a shining example of all that is best about her generation.”

Zalenski’s award includes a $250 grant for the Canton, Ohio, resident to contribute to the nonprofit organization of her choice. She will donate the funds to the East Meets West Foundation, which seeks to “transform the health, education, and communities of disadvantaged people by building partnerships, developing opportunities, and creating sustainable solutions.”

“I chose to donate to East Meets West because I interned at its Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, office last summer with a Theory-to-Practice Grant from OWU,” said Zalenski, an international studies major and Spanish minor. “I had a wonderful time working with this organization and was very inspired by the work it is doing.”

During her internship, Zalenski traveled to various provinces to conduct onsite evaluations for clean-water projects. She also worked to raise scholarship funds and secure corporate sponsorships for other foundation initiatives. After graduating in 2015, Zalenski hopes to work in fundraising and grant-writing on behalf of a major international nonprofit. In time, she hopes to teach about nonprofit management, grant-writing, and fundraising at a university level.

Zalenski credits Ohio Wesleyan with helping her continue to make an impact on the world around her.

“At Ohio Wesleyan, the quote ‘vocation is the place where our deep gladness meet the world’s deepest need’ by Frederick Buechner is a guiding light as we go out into the world and serve,” Zalenski said. “I do what I can to leave my mark on this world, and in doing so I have found great peace and purpose within myself.”

In addition to her Ohio Campus Compact honor, Zalenski previously has been named a Rotary International Paul Harris Fellow, honored with a Nestlé Inc. “Very Best in Youth” Award, and featured in the Reader’s Digest “Make it Matter” column.

Read more about the Charles J. Ping Student Community Service Award and the Ohio Campus Compact at Read more about Ohio Wesleyan’s commitment to service at and more about the OWU Theory-to-Practice Grant program at

Founded in 1842, Ohio Wesleyan University is one of the nation’s premier liberal arts universities. Located in Delaware, Ohio, the private, coed university offers more than 90 undergraduate majors, minors, and concentrations, and competes in 23 NCAA Division III varsity sports. Ohio Wesleyan combines a challenging, internationally focused curriculum with off-campus learning and leadership opportunities to connect classroom theory with real-world practice. OWU’s 1,850 students represent 42 states and 37 countries. Ohio Wesleyan is featured in the book “Colleges That Change Lives,” listed on the 2013 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction, and included in the U.S. News & World Report and Princeton Review “best colleges” lists. Learn more at