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Human Development and Family Science

Dr. Dorothy J. Gish Women in Leadership Award


What is the Dorothy J. Gish Women in Leadership Award?

It is a monetary award given to full-time female students at Messiah College who aspire to develop their gifts and advance in leadership roles. In addition to receiving funding for their efforts, recipients will be recognized at the Honors and Awards chapel held at the end of each semester.


Doroty GishThe History of the Award

This award is named in honor of Dr. Dorothy Gish, Academic Dean Emeritus and former Professor of Early Childhood and Family Education at Messiah College. During her years of service at Messiah College, Dr. Gish was a critical role model and inspiration for women across campus who aspired to use their gifts to advance in leadership roles. In recognition of Dr. Gish’s trail-blazing efforts, faculty and other friends established an endowment in her honor. The interest from this endowment is used to support worthy leadership opportunities for full-time women students at Messiah College.


Eligibility Requirements

  • Be a full-time, female Messiah College undergraduate student
  • Have a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.0
  • Be a continuing student at Messiah College who is willing to share her experience publicly with the Messiah Community (e.g. dorm floor discussions, alternate chapel, creative display)
  • Submit a typed proposal delineating a leadership development activity and all information requested on the application form by the designated due date


Review Committee

A review committee scores all proposals that are received by the stated deadline and determines which proposal(s) will be awarded. All applicants will receive a letter from the committee stating the committee’s decision regarding her proposal.



All application materials should be submitted electronically and via hard copy by the deadline as directed on the application. Click here for the application. You may also request an application by emailing Deborah Chopka with your request.


Application Deadlines

Proposals for this award are accepted once each semester and are typically due late September and late February. See the application for the specific deadline.


Maximum Potential Funding

The maximum potential funding for each individual proposal is $400.00.


Definition of “Leadership Development Activity”

The definition of a “Leadership Development Activity” is limited only by your personal gifts, skills, talents, abilities, passions, creativity, opportunities, and ability to articulate the leadership value in your proposed activity. Young ladies have proposed a variety of leadership activities and each has been given careful consideration by the review committee. Some of the activities that have been awarded in the past are categorized below.

  • Conference Attendance: National Council on Family Relations (NCFR); Wesleyan/Holiness Women Clergy; Worship and the Arts; Model UN; Dramatic Problem Solving; Art Therapy; Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization (ECHO); Women’s Leadership Symposium; PA Family & Consumer Sciences, Association for Gerontology in Higher Education; and Mediation and Conflict Resolution Training Workshop
  • Study Programs: Oregon Extension Program; International Peace & Conflict Resolution Program; and Los Angeles Internship Program
  • Individual Projects: West Africa Pump Project; Honors Project in Guatemala relative to Sustainable Community Development; Developing a Leadership Seminar for first-year Pre-Education majors; Study of Monks in Thailand (senior thesis); Field Research in Uganda (senior thesis); Creating a Children’s Book about Messiah College through a Child’s Eyes; National Trumpet Competition; and Visiting Seminaries for United Methodist Church Ordination
  • Student Leader Opportunities: Coordinator of Ukraine Missions Trip; Young Life Camp Counselor; Senior Staff Member at White Sulphur Springs Christian Camp; and Student Leader of Education Site Team in Bukina Faso, West Africa


2012-2013 Recipients

FALL 2013



Brittany Horst


Nutrition & Dietetics


Woman’s Leadership Workshop for Sports Team Captains

     Brittany hosted a workshop for the captains of the female sports teams on campus. In this workshop the captains expressed their own traits and learned about what makes a good leader. Participants were given the opportunity to observe their own strengths while also collaborating with co-captains to figure out the best working arrangement. The workshop was designed to not only benefit the captains, but also the entire team.

Sara Wagner


Biopsychology with a Gerontology minor

Gerontology Conference in Orlando, Florida

     Sarah attended the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education (AGHE) Annual Meeting and Leadership Conference. While there she learned how professionals contribute to scholarly discussions in the field of aging. She was also able to network with other professionals and organizations that serve older adults, which was beneficial to her since she hopes to work with senior citizens in the future. Post-conference she was able to share the information she gained with other students, by making a poster displayed during Careers in Aging Week on campus and by talking to GERO 251, “Biology, Nutrition, and Healthy Aging” and PSYC 171 “Introduction to Social Research” classes about her experience.


Kathleen Balmer


Education with Middle School Certification, Grades 4-8


Children’s Lit Book, “Sowing Seeds of Change” Publishing

    As part of her Education Departmental Honors and Messiah College Honors Program Senior Research Project, Kathleen authored and illustrated a piece of mixed text nonfiction children’s literature. The book chronicled the life cycle of a sunflower – from seed to harvest – and was utilized as a vehicle to introduce themes of social justice and environmental stewardship to childhood audience. Kathleen presented her finished text to the general public, her professional peers, and a student audience.


Rachel Schmuck


Human Development and Family Science

National Council on Family Relations Conference in

Phoenix, Arizona

      As a recipient of the Dr. Dorothy J. Gish Women in Leadership Award, Rachel was able to attend the National Council on Family Relations (NCFR) Conference. At this conference she had the opportunity to present research she had done with another student and Dr. Raeann Hamon by means of a poster symposium (“The Elder Service Partner Program: An Overview and Evaluation”).  Rachel was also able to participate in many sessions created specifically for students and new professionals, as well as attend multiple sessions which presented cutting-edge research from various professionals in the field of Family Science. After attending Rachel shared her experience with peers and partnered with Messiah College Council on Family Relations (MCCFR) as they promoted student attendance at next year’s NCFR Conference

Olivia Weidemann


Math with Teaching Certification

National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Conference in Hartford, CT

      Olivia attended the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) Conference and was able to network with other mathematic teachers and to gain expertise on current research and effective teaching strategies in the classroom. Upon returning Olivia was able to share her experience with education classes, specifically the Instructional Design classes, to encourage underclassmen to attend professional development classes and to update them on current research being done in the field of mathematics.

Alyssa White


Human Development and Family Science

National Council on Family Relations Conference in

Phoenix, Arizona

      Alyssa was able to attend the National Council on Family Relations (NCFR) Conference where she worked as a student aid and attended sessions on a variety of topics. She attended sessions specifically geared towards students in order to gain knowledge on career opportunities, graduate school programs, and grant writing. Lastly, Alyssa also had the privilege to connect with other students who are leaders in NCFR affiliated student councils at their college or university, which strengthened her role as President of Messiah College Council on Family Relations (MCCFR). Upon returning, Alyssa set up an information session for Messiah students who hope to attend in future years.


For a list of all of the past recipients, click here.


Student Quotes

After participating in their event, the recipients are asked to write a brief reflection paper on their experience which was made possible by the funding provided by this award. What follows are quotations from those papers.


  • “Many thanks for enabling me to attend this conference. Reverberations of life-lessons are arriving each day to me, and my focus and passion for people and their land is growing continually stronger.” – Amanda McMillian, Recipient Fall 2006
  • “I came away [from the conference] with an affirmation to my calling in life to be involved with college athletics. … I will not let anything hold me back or prevent me from pursuing God’s kingdom through sports to touch the lives of college athletes.” – Jennifer Myhre, Recipient Spring 2007
  • “God challenged me and changed me in ways I never dreamed of. He closed doors I thought would forever be open and opened others I believed to be closed for life. … My thoughts are constantly drawn to the people and places I left behind. Only this time, I know I will be back. Over and over again, I say, ‘wait, my Pearl of Africa, wait beloved Uganda, for I shall return.’” – Brittany Brendsel, Recipient Spring 2007



For more information, please contact Deborah Chopka.

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