Pfeiffer University awards 2012 Heart of Grace Awards for community service and global humanitarian efforts

Award Recip SpeakersToday, Pfeiffer University's awarded its 2012 Heart of Grace Awards for community service and global humanitarianism at its Charlotte campus as part of the Heart of Grace Symposium and Awards, an annual event that celebrates the personal, professional and service achievements of local women.

“Pfeiffer University is proud to recognize the accomplishments of two young women from our community with bright futures,” said Dana Hanson of Pfeiffer's Center for Professional Advancement and event organizer. “Their commitment to serving others reflects the spirit of servant leadership that is woven into the fabric of Pfeiffer's culture.”

Award recipients are:

  • Michelle Fogarty / 2012 Community Service Award -  Michelle Fogarty is a senior at Providence High School in Charlotte, where 337 new organ donors registered through The Ultimate Gift Project, an effort created and managed by Michelle designed to promote organ donation education and registration. The success of this campaign, the most successful high school organ donation registration program in the history of North Carolina, led to the publication of An Insider's Guide to High School Donation Enrollment Campaigns, a multimedia instructional guide for spreading the reach and effectiveness of such programs, which is currently serving as a pilot project for Donate Life NC.  

The Ultimate Gift Project includes the distribution of nearly 5,000 bilingual organ donation cards to driver education students, collaboration between Donate Life NC and the driver education provider for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, and presentations about organ donation education to regional meetings of driver education teachers. Michelle is ranked third in her class of 475 students and is a National Merit Finalist, a Coca-Cola Scholar, and a three-time Presidential Service Award recipient. She is a member of her school's Key Club, student ambassadors and National Honor Society. She is a competitive Irish dancer, award-winning pianist and all-conference, MVP varsity golfer. She plans to study mathematics at Yale University starting in fall 2012.

  • Amber Koonce/ Global Humanitarian Award – Amber Koonce is a senior at UNC Chapel Hill and a Morehead-Cain Scholar, who is majoring in public policy and cultural studies and minoring in entrepreneurship. While in Chapel Hill, she has advocated against a neighborhood's gentrification, helped a professor create an electronic welfare system, and spearheaded a policy proposal to integrate local schools socioeconomically. Her work as a mentor for incarcerated youth in Durham, N.C., led to similar efforts in Scotland and Ghana. She is the youngest person to be appointed by the governor to serve on the North Carolina Council for Women. Amber has been recognized for these efforts with the 2010 Girl Scouts Young Woman of Distinction Award and the 2011 Pearson Prize for Higher Education. Amber is also the founder of BeautyGap (, a nonprofit organization that distributes dolls of color to children internationally. The mission of BeautyGap, whose name recognizes a gap between a woman's front teeth as an African standard of beauty, is to promote self love among young African girls. For the work BeautyGap accomplishes, she was named to the 2011 Top Ten College Women list by Glamour magazine and as a Top 25 Young Futurist by The Root. In the future, Amber plans to continue advocating for youth as a juvenile defense attorney.

The keynote address “Overcoming Obstacles with Grace, Faith and Hope,” was given by Martha Bedell Alexander, N.C. House of Representatives, Mecklenburg County, District 106, Guest speaker, Dr. Patrick L. Meadors, assistant professor, Marriage & Family Therapy, Pfeiffer University School of Graduate Studies, presented “Positive Momentum During Breast Cancer Treatment: Strengthening Body, Mind, Spirit and Family.”

The name Heart of Grace Symposium and Awards was coined from Dr. Martin Luther King's 1968 sermon, A Drum Major's Instinct. In describing what it takes to serve, Dr. King said, “Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You don't have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don't have to know Einstein's Theory of Relativity to serve. You don't have to know the Second Theory of Thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love, and you can be that servant.”

PHOTO CAPTION: Recipients of Pfeiffer University 2012 Heart of Grace Awards, both represented at the event by family member, were joined by speakers and event organizers. They are Masherrill Koonce, mother of Amber Koonce who received the Global Humanitarian Award; Patrick Fogarty, father of Michelle Fogarty who received the Community Service Award; Keynote Speaker Rep. Martha Bedell Alexander, Mecklenburg County District 106; Guest Speaker Dr. Patrick L. Meadors, Pfeiffer University; and event organizers Dana Hanson and Dr. Deborah Lung, Pfeiffer University faculty members.

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