Raissa Kanku ’19

‘Outstanding Leadership’

Ohio Wesleyan 2019 Graduate Raissa Kanku Earns Charles J. Ping Student Service Award

By Cole Hatcher

DELAWARE, Ohio – When she packs her bags for graduate school in Switzerland, Raissa Kanku will need to make room for one more award from her three years at Ohio Wesleyan University.

Kanku, OWU Class of 2019, is being honored with a Charles J. Ping Student Service Award from the Ohio Campus Compact.

Ping Awards are presented each year, according to the campus compact, “to recognize and honor undergraduate students for their outstanding leadership and contributions to community service or service-learning on their campus and within their community. These students represent the next generation of civic leaders and problem solvers.”

Kanku was a double-major in politics and government and French at Ohio Wesleyan, completing her Bachelor of Arts degree in May in three years. In Switzerland, she will attend the Graduate Institute Geneva to pursue a Master’s Degree in International Affairs. Her long-term goal is “to create a place where children – specifically child soldiers within the rural villages of the Democratic Republic of Congo – are able to gain and practice their deserved children’s’ rights.”

A resident of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kanku was selected for a Ping Award based on her body of work at Ohio Wesleyan, which included multiple OWU Connection experiences. The OWU Connection, Ohio Wesleyan’s signature experience, helps students to think big (understand issues from multiple academic disciplines), go global (gain international perspective), and get real (translate classroom knowledge into real-world experience).

Kanku’s Ohio Wesleyan experiences included projects exploring the role of community service volunteers within vulnerable spaces; slavery in Libya; spatial justice and mentorship of children in the Congo; migration and human rights in Mexico; redlining (denying services to specific neighborhoods or populations) in Chicago and Paris; Hurricane Katrina reconstruction in New Orleans; interfaith collaborations in Pittsburgh; and local homelessness in Delaware, Ohio.

While an Ohio Wesleyan student, Kanku also was selected in 2017 to attend The New York Times Athens Democracy Forum in Greece, where she participated in an onstage panel discussion about “Bridging the Generational Gap.” In addition, Kanku helped to reinvigorate and transform Rafiki, a student organization dedicated to promoting African and Caribbean cultures on campus.

University President Rock Jones, Ph.D., said Kanku deserves to be recognized for her deep commitment to improving the lives of others, especially those impacted by oppression and poverty.

“Raissa said she chose to attend Ohio Wesleyan because she wanted an education that ‘was about getting out there and challenging the status quo,’ and she has done just that,” Jones said. “Raissa embraced every opportunity created by The OWU Connection and learned how to focus her energy for doing good into meaningful action. She exemplifies what we strive to achieve here – educating moral leaders for the global society. We couldn’t be prouder of her.”

Learn more about Ohio Wesleyan and The OWU Connection at www.owu.edu/owuconnection.

About the Ohio Campus Compact

Founded in 1992 and based in Granville, Ohio, the Ohio Campus Compact is a coalition of Ohio-based colleges and universities working to provide statewide leadership in mobilizing resources, services, and partnerships to strengthen the capacity to educate students for civic and social responsibility and to improve community life. Learn more about the compact and its Charles J. Ping Student Service Award at https://ohiocampuscompact.org.

About Ohio Wesleyan University

Founded in 1842, Ohio Wesleyan University is one of the nation’s premier liberal arts universities. Located in Delaware, Ohio, the private university offers more than 90 undergraduate majors and competes in 25 NCAA Division III varsity sports. Through Ohio Wesleyan’s signature OWU Connection program, students integrate knowledge across disciplines, build a diverse and global perspective, and apply their knowledge in real-world settings. Ohio Wesleyan is featured in the book “Colleges That Change Lives” and included in the U.S. News & World Report and Princeton Review “best colleges” lists. Learn more at www.owu.edu.