Dr. Kevin Windham has been poring over books and periodicals related to Alabama History in his pursuit to become a leader in the field, but his work has also led to two unexpected discoveries: one of his ancestors fought in the American Revolution, and another relative was a Japanese prisoner of war in World War II with connections to the Bataan Death March.
Kevin’s work is being funded by a Marshall Award, which he received in 2018. The Marshall Award provides a $5,000 stipend to a Phi Theta Kappa advisor each year so he or she may pursue or complete a project that encourages personal leadership growth.
The award is named for Dr. Jo Marshall, former president of Somerset Community College in Kentucky and a former PTK advisor. She was the Alabama Regional Coordinator when Kevin was a member at Shelton State Community College and has been a hero for him ever since, making this award even more meaningful.
“The award was the motivation I needed to take my passion for Alabama History and put it in motion,” he said. “It is an honor and a personal challenge for me to go and learn and do good works where I can become a better leader and better servant.”
Kevin now works in student services at Shelton State and is an adjunct faculty member. Through the Marshall Award, he aims to develop an Alabama History curriculum he can teach at the college and that could even be used as a model for similar courses in other colleges throughout the state.
He also plans to create a series of recorded presentations from various historic sites in Alabama, such as the Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, also known as Rocket City, USA; the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, site of 1965’s Bloody Sunday; and the Monroeville Courthouse, which inspired Harper Lee to write To Kill a Mockingbird.
“Through these on-site presentations, I will be able to transport students to a place we would be studying in class,” he said. “Through this project, I can contribute to the discipline, and I can teach.”
Dr. Payal Doctor’s discoveries will come this summer as she travels to India in July. Payal received the 2018 Mosal Award, which also carries a $5,000 stipend for a project leading to personal growth.
The Mosal Award is named in honor of Dr. Margaret Mosal, PTK’s first executive director.
Payal is a philosophy instructor at LaGuardia Community College in New York. She teaches Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, Confucianism, and Taoism in her various courses, but she has struggled to help her students grasp these concepts without having practiced them herself. With the Mosal Award, she will travel to Amritsar, Dharamshala, and Palithana to immerse herself in the culture and language of each philosophy to better understand it as a practitioner.
“Armed with my philosophical training, I want to experience my culture and evaluate exactly how it has influenced my life, my work, and my belief system,” said Payal, who grew up practicing Hinduism. “Such an experience at this time would also enable me to clearly communicate these ideas with my peers and colleagues in ways that are not currently possible.”
In India, Payal will work with the Department of Guru Nanak Studies to learn about Sikhism in depth and how the philosophy is applied in daily life. She plans to live and volunteer with practicing Buddhists at the Dhamma Sikhara, Himachal Vipassana Center in Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh, where she’ll immerse herself in meditation and Buddhist scripture and culture.
She will also volunteer to help care for the Jain holy site of Mount Shatrunjaya near Bhavnagar, Gujarat, where she’ll experience living according to Jain principles as they are practiced on a daily basis and learn from Jain monks and nuns about how practice of this philosophy is possible for average people.
“This project will allow me the opportunity to understand my culture and religion, as well as seek answers to why I chose this field and how it can be made practical within academics,” she said. “My need to complete this project stems from my desire to know why I believe what I believe and how this fits into my identity as a person, colleague, teacher, and friend.”
Do you have a project you’d like to start or complete? Apply now for a 2019 Mosal or Marshall Award. The deadline is Wednesday, February 13. Awards will be presented at PTK Catalyst 2019 in Orlando, Florida.