Thanks to her tireless efforts to promote student voting, along with helping Western Carolina University secure an early voting site, North Carolina Campus Compact has named junior Joanna Woodson as one of its Community Impact Award winners.
Woodson is one of 25 students selected by their campus for this year’s honor. Since the award’s inception in 2006, more than 200 college students have been recognized.
“I am so honored to have been selected for this award; however, without (classmates) Ashlynn Landreth, Katie Balough, Samantha Burch and Emma Tate, and especially (director of WCU’s Service Learning) Lane Perry, there would have been no Student Democracy Coalition,” Woodson said. “We, together, made this happen, along with so many others at the university, and I couldn’t be more happy with my team. I am so happy to have served with them, and I will miss this project dearly and look back on these past two semesters with immense fondness.”
Woodson, from Monroe, is currently interning with the Andrew Goodman Foundation, a national organization that empowers young people to participate in the democratic process. She also is a co-leader of the nonpartisan Student Democracy Coalition, helped win nearly $10,000 in grants to support elections-related programming, and successfully lobbied local officials for an early voting polling site at WCU. She also coordinated numerous volunteers at events across campus.
Woodson’s rise to leadership began last year while she was a student worker at WCU’s Center for Service Learning, where Perry encouraged her to become involved with politics on campus. That led to Woodson being chosen for an internship at AGF. Woodson hit the ground running, helping to organize a voter registration drive in the center of campus, which began as twice-a-month events and grew from there.
There were intentional dialogue educational events and a State of the Union watch party. Then, after hearing of initial discussions to get an early voting site on campus, Woodson took the lead to make that a reality. Woodson’s work led to her being named a Hidden Heroes Award winner by the Andrew Goodman Foundation.
“I think she does such a good job of being composed and articulate and thoughtful,” Perry said. “And also her ability to organize people around an idea, which is what leaders can do because they have a clear vision, they are articulate in that vision, and they’re inspiring in it as well.”
Woodson has been the subject of an ongoing series published by the university spotlighting her efforts to make WCU’s campus more engaged. Woodson discusses her passion and finding a home at WCU HERE, and is later named a Hidden Heroes Award winner HERE.