Strength of character, compassion and determination. These qualities impressed WLI’s selection committee and led them to select Concordia University Wisconsin student, Kristen Struyk, as the 2015 recipient of the Donna J. Streufert Women’s Leadership Award. The award and a cash scholarship benefit young women in recognition of dedicated and innovative leadership.
Kristen struggles with Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD). She explained it this way: “RSD is characterized by constant, severe, burning pain, swelling, and hypersensitivity. Simple things like putting on socks or running water from the shower can cause tremendous pain. There is no cure but monthly nerve block injection procedures help keep the pain manageable.” However, Kristen’s struggle alone doesn’t set her apart; rather how Jesus Christ has shaped her character and put her to work. Kristen received three distinct nominations for the Women’s Leadership award. This speaks volumes about how others view her leadership.
According to Kristen, “Believe it or not, a smile and positive attitude are not my natural reactions to pain—they are hard-fought-for. Somewhere along the way, I’ve learned not to use my pain as an excuse for a sour attitude or bad behavior. Instead, God has managed to use it to help me develop sweetness, resilience, strength of character, and a heart to en-courage others.” Kristen has served as president of the CUW Psychology club, Nursing Home minis-try leader, peer leader for Psych 101, youth leader at Christ Church for third through fifth graders, and as a Direct Care resource for those with developmental disabilities and mental illness. In the midst of this, she has also found time to be an advocate on cam-pus for those who struggle. Kristen just completed her junior year in the CUW School of Nursing.
WLI Executive Director, Darcy Paape, had the privilege of presenting the award and scholar-ship to Kristen. “I feel honored to know Kris-ten,” says Darcy. “Spend an hour with her and you can-not help but leave feeling encouraged, inspired and humbled. It was my honor to present the Donna J. Streufert Women’s Leadership Award to such a candidate.”
We also wish to acknowledge applicants, Emily Marciniak, Morgan Brandt and Victoria Hildebrandt and our other nominees, Ellicia Wilder, Lindsey Weber, Sarah Harms and Stephanie Bonguard, and offer our thanks for their exemplary Christian leadership.
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