At the spring 2016 Day of Service, Sophie Halter ’16 was presented with the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “Drum Major for Service” award in recognition of her commitment to community engagement and service during her time at Hobart and William Smith.
Named for the “Drum Major Instinct” sermon that King delivered in 1968, the national service award honors “volunteers who perform extraordinary everyday acts of service with reliability and commitment, but who seldom receive recognition.”
As a three-year president of Days of Service, Halter worked to expand the Colleges’ collaborations with local non-profit organizations, agencies and individuals. In the summer of 2015, she helped organize the Community Barn Sale, which generated more than $8,500 for the community and the Geneva 2020 initiative. Halter facilitated a bilingual conversation for Tools for Social Change’s “Big Talks in the Little City” initiative, which included conversations held across Geneva to gather data on residents’ opinions for the City of Geneva’s 15-Year Plan. As a member of Tools for Social Change, she also helped plan “Food Talks” for Spanish-speaking families in Geneva having trouble accessing food resources.
These projects and others, she explains, have inspired her “to truly believe in the power of social change through personal connections and meaningful dialogue.”
“I have learned to think beyond the word ‘service’ and now define the work I perform with others as collaborative social action, which entails sharing responsibilities to make change happen — in a variety of outcomes — and embracing collectivity,” says Halter, who served as an America Reads tutor, twice receiving the Tutor of the Month Award.
“Sophie’s tireless dedication to Days of Service is visible through increased participation of volunteers and enhanced community partner engagement,” says Katie Flowers, director of the HWS Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning. “She has served both as a champion for partnership between HWS and the Geneva community, and of equal import, she has led her peers in a manner that places equity, collaboration and relationships at the forefront of their efforts.”
A major in child advocacy and justice, with a double minor in social justice and Spanish and Hispanic studies, Halter is a member of Hai Timiai, works as a residential assistant on the William Smith Hill and has danced in the Faculty Dance Concert and choreographed for Koshare Dance Collective. She is the current recipient of the Roderic ’52 and Patricia ’53 Ross Endowed Centennial Scholarship.