Wilkinson receives 2019 President’s Award for Engagement With Students
Krista Wilkinson, professor of communication sciences and disorders in the College of Health and Human Development and SSRI co-funded faculty member, has received Penn State's 2019 President’s Award for Engagement with Students.
The award is given to a faculty member who goes beyond his or her responsibilities to engage and encourage students in learning. The honorees have made themselves available to interact with students outside class, link students to opportunities and help them build their confidence as learners and potential contributors to society.
Colleagues say Wilkinson not only finds ways to connect her students with opportunities to learn, she also engages them in meaningful community outreach opportunities through service and engagement endeavors.
Wilkinson’s research focuses on examining the visual and motor skills of individuals with intellectual disabilities such as Down syndrome. Colleagues said she teaches undergraduate and graduate students research procedures while showing students a caring engagement inside and outside of research.
Wilkinson is founder and director of the For Good Musical Performance Troupe of the Centre Region Down Syndrome Society, a performance group comprised of those with intellectual disabilities and peers from the musical theater community.
Unlike many efforts directed towards individuals with developmental disabilities, the For Good Troupe is not an attempt to help those with Down syndrome ‘fit in,’ ” a nominator said. “It is instead a coming together of individuals around a shared interest in musical theater.”
Since it formed in 2012, Penn State students have been involved with the For Good Troupe through vocals, choreography, costumes and stage props. Student members of the Penn State sign language organization join in by teaching sign language. Penn State students grow and learn through their engagement with the participants of the group, colleagues said.
“Fueled by Wilkinson’s energy, enthusiasm and deep commitment, the For Good Troupe has continued to grow and expand its engagement with the community,” a nominator said.
Building in the successes of the For Good Troupe, Wilkinson further leveraged the power of musical interactions between young adults with disabilities and Penn State students by designing a course, Supporting Communication through Performance.
The course, which was borne through partnerships with the Center for Performing Arts at Penn State, the College of Arts and Architecture and the State College Area School District LifeLink program at Penn State, has students learn how to better communicate through the use of the arts. The course culminates in public performances for members of the Penn State and State College communities.
“Wilkinson is an incredible model of caring and acceptance for her students,” a nominator said. “She personifies the spirit of the ‘all-in’ initiative. At the same time, she challenges her students to learn, to grow and to think in new and creative ways.”