Noah Gillespie and Andrew Sitzmann have been chosen as the 2008-09 recipients of the Raoul Wallenberg Scholar Award.
Gillespie is a student majoring in economics in the Honors Program; he maintains a 4.0 grade point average while undertaking several efforts to promote social justice. He has been an advocate for rights for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered individuals at the University and in the community. He has spent the past school year developing and launching the “Safe Place Program,” where stickers are placed at UT locations that offer support for all students regardless of sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, gender or religion.
“What would UT look like if more students could live out an abiding sense of compassion?” Gillespie asked. “I think a great force for good and for change would be found, similar to the greatness Wallenberg achieved.”
Sitzmann is a 32-year-old medical student who has dedicated his life to service. He graduated from Northern Iowa University with a bachelor of arts degree in elementary education and music. Sitzmann taught elementary school for six years but a call to serve led him to pursue a career in the medical field. He has immersed himself in community service, using his skills as an educator and musician.
When Sitzmann thinks about the kind of physician he wants to become, he looks to role models like Wallenberg who remind him to follow his heart and work to help, empower and heal the less fortunate in society.
“As we become professionals of tomorrow, examples like Wallenberg are necessary to show us that the goodness of individuals is powerful enough to triumph over seemingly unbeatable odds,” Sitzmann, a member of the 2011 medical class, said. “Wallenberg challenges others to be their best selves, believe in the common goodness of humanity, and fight with determined tenacity to uphold the highest of values.”
Wallenberg, a 33-year-old neutral Swede, undertook a mission at the behest of the U.S. War Refugee Board to go to Budapest in 1944 and saved tens of thousands of Jews by giving them documents that identified them as Swedish nationals. He was arrested by the advancing Soviet Army in January 1945 and was never seen free again.
Wallenberg’s example of courage and compassion points to the potential within all humankind for goodness and high morality, according to Robert Karp, founder and administrator for the UT Raoul Wallenberg Scholar Award.