RaeKenya Walker, a junior child development and sociology double-major at Maryville College, was among five college students in Tennessee to be named recipient of the 2008 Harold Love Outstanding Community Involvement Award sponsored by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission.
The award, which was presented April 24 in Nashville, recognizes outstanding community service at the campus level. Named for the late state representative from Nashville who was instrumental in passing legislation for community service recognition programs for higher education in 1991, the award carries a $1,000 cash prize.
According to THEC’s website, “the individuals selected to receive recognition represent the many dimensions of community service - volunteer work, public service, charitable service and leadership roles in community organizations. They serve as ambassadors for community service among the many diverse higher educational communities in Tennessee.”
Walker, who was nominated for the award by administrators at the college, has been involved - and been instrumental - in a variety of service groups and projects since she arrived on campus as a Bonner Scholar in 2005.
In 2007, she was named Maryville College’s Student Activist of the Year for her dedication and commitment to various non-profits and outreach endeavors.
“RaeKenya embraced Habitat for Humanity early on,” wrote Vandy Kemp, Maryville College vice president and dean of students, in her nomination letter. “She sought every opportunity to learn more about the issue of homelessness and hunger and their solutions.”
In the Maryville community and near her hometown of Chattanooga, Tenn., Walker’s list of involvement includes volunteering with the college’s Habitat for Humanity chapter, participating in American Humanics and volunteering at the Blount County Advocacy Center.
As president of the college’s Habitat for Humanity chapter for two years, she has guided the group through both fund-raising and local builds. The chapter holds an annual fund-raiser termed “Shack City” that is a campus favorite. Members of the student body and staff camp out in cardboard boxes on the steps of Pearsons Hall to raise awareness - and money - for the homeless.
At the Blount County Children’s Advocacy Center, Walker has served as a playmate for children while they awaited evaluation. She has also provided administrative support so counselors could extend their sessions with children who suffer from abuse.
Walker is the daughter of Kenneth and Raenetha Walker of Chattanooga. She is a 2005 graduate of the Chattanooga School for the Arts and Sciences.