CORVALLIS - An Oregon State University student from Lebanon received $5,000 and earned recognition as a 2004 winner of OSU's College of Liberal Arts Leadership in Social Change Award. Cody Donahue, is using the money to support an internship with a progressive social change organization.
Four awards were given this year, with the recognition made possible through a $20,000 annual gift from OSU alumnus James Wiggett of San Francisco. This is the third year of awards.
Donahue is an OSU senior pursuing political science and international degrees with a minor in French. Donahue will be interning with the non-profit group Tostan from June until December 2004. Tostan, which means "breakthrough" in Wolof, is an American humanitarian group based in Senegal that works with communities in West Africa to provide education programs in health and human rights. The programs, taught in the maternal language of each village, recently aided in bringing about a law against the practice of female genital mutilation in Senegal.
Donahue is being sent to Tostan through the Oregon University System's IE3 Global Internships program. The program was created by the OUS to provide students with an improved understanding of global issues and equip them with professional experience and international competence. Since the beginning of the program in 1995, more than 800 interns have participated in the program.
Donahue will work on research, observation, and reporting about the programs while evaluating and participating in the everyday administration of the non-profit organization.
Donahue first began working toward social change with volunteer activities with the Boys and Girls Club of Lebanon and with the organization of Red Cross blood drives at Lebanon High School.
The Boys and Girls Club experience was Donahue's first job working with students, the majority of whom came from low-income families. Once at OSU, Donahue joined the student and community political action group WRENCH, which calls for an end to racial, gender, and social discrimination and inequality through creative, non-violent, and democratic means. It is also active in environmental issues and labor activism. Donahue has worked to preserve green space on the OSU campus, to give a voice to the OSU janitorial staff in contract negotiations, and to protest against violence in the Middle East.
Donahue spent 2003-04 on study abroad in Lyon, France, to add an international component to the OSU undergraduate experience. Donahue expects to graduate in June 2005.
Experiencing the Senegalese culture while working for Tostan offers an opportunity to discover new tools for organizing social change that can be applied to projects in Corvallis and prepare for a career in humanitarian social change work after graduation, Donahue said.