As UNC senior Kira Griffith nears the end of her second term as president of the Residence Hall Association, the association is establishing an alumni-sponsored award named after her.
The Kira N. Griffith Award will provide $800 annually to a junior or senior who has served as an RHA officer and lived on-campus for at least two years.
Scott Peeler, a UNC alumnus and adjunct professor in the School of Law, is a former RHA president and will fund the award for the first four years.
Griffith, a student originally from St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, and her team have worked to maintain connections between RHA alumni and the current on-campus community, Peeler said.
“This award was embodying and connecting those worlds, and I was captivated from the start, not only with her and her story but with this particular initiative, wanting to help form those connections and keep them going over time, as Kira has and hopefully the award will,” Peeler said.
Griffith said the award is intended to further the advocacy work that RHA has done. Nominees for the award should demonstrate that they have actively worked to connect with organizations around campus as advocates for marginalized groups, she said.
Peeler said he made the choice to name the award after Griffith.
“My wife and I were just overjoyed to be able to help with the funding of the award,” he said. “The fact that the award will bear her name is something that I think is not only worthy of note, it’s wonderful, it’s as it should be.”
Sophomore Matthew Wood, the RHA’s national communications coordinator, is responsible for coordinating the nominations for all RHA end-of-year awards. He said he is ecstatic that the award is named after Griffith because he hasn’t seen anyone in the RHA do more for advocacy than her.
“I think she’s been a real model for advocacy over the last four years and I’m just glad that this legacy will be able to be continued on in such a way,” Wood said.
The award recipient must also intend to pursue graduate education. Griffith said this aspect is different from past awards.
“We’re really trying to encourage people to hopefully take the next step in their education beyond college to do graduate studies,” she said.
Griffith said she hopes her story will inspire future students.
“My story as an out-of-state student from St. Croix and the U.S. Virgin Islands coming to UNC and being able to get to this position of influence through the RHA presidency and make an impact, I think that’s pretty powerful,” she said. “We’d like to kind of memorialize that and inspire other students in the future to do something similar.”
While Peeler will fund the award for the first four years, Griffith said the RHA Alumni Committee will be reaching out to additional RHA alumni to acquire more financial support.
She said their goal is to secure enough funding to create an endowment fund that will continue the award and invest in additional initiatives and scholarships.
Nominations for the Kira N. Griffith Award are open to the entire UNC community and will be judged by the RHA Alumni Committee. The nomination form will be open until April 9 at 11:59 p.m.
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