Koehler Award winner motivated by helping others
For Tralese Campbell, the turning point of her Lakeland University experience was her sophomore year.
"An inspiring professor and academic advisor gave me a challenge," Campbell said. "Though these words were intimidating, I accepted that challenge with grace."
Campbell finished with her highest grade point average to date and a place on the academic Dean's List, an honor she has achieved every semester since.
"The more uncomfortable and challenging the curriculum got during my experience, the higher the expectation I put on myself to conquer every challenge ahead of me," Campbell said. "Beyond academics, I had to keep myself rooted in what I loved the most, helping others."
Campbell, a senior from Chicago, Ill., majoring in criminal justice, is the winner of the 56th annual Clarence H. Koehler Award, the university's top award for undergraduate students.
The Koehler Award is presented each year to a Lakeland senior who best exemplifies "The Lakeland Spirit" through participation in and support of the university's programs and activities. To be eligible, graduates must complete all their undergraduate years at Lakeland and maintain a high level of academic achievement.
The other finalists for the 2021 Koehler Award were Janai' Farr, Megan Goeser, Abby Juozapaitis, Trenton Nickel and Ali Wilson.
Campbell is a graduate of Providence St. Mel High School who attended Lakeland as a Hurvis Scholar, which is financially supported by the Caerus Foundation. Motivated by her academic success and her concern for others, Campbell is putting together an impressive, versatile record of service and involvement during her time at Lakeland.
She got involved with LU's People of Virtue organization that led to her mentoring children at Jackson Elementary School in Sheboygan. From there, she became a Lakeland Resident Assistant, a role that allowed her to serve her peers as a mentor, resource and role model.
Those experiences opened the floodgates for her involvement at Lakeland. She became captain of the LU Cheer team, which led to participation in a number of campus-wide events including the inaugural Pride Walk to support the LGBTQ community, International Food Festival, International Night and Essence of Heritage as she embraced Lakeland's diversity.
She is a member of the Black Student Union and Global Student Association, and she was inducted into the National Society of Leadership and Success.
"With joy, I hold service and stewardship as one of my top priorities here at Lakeland," Campbell said. "I see myself as a mentor. I see myself as resilient. Let me be one of the many examples."
Karin Miofsky, a Lakeland associate professor of criminal justice, said Campbell had the courage to challenge herself to see different results.
"She engaged in new opportunities and joined various organizations that allowed her to build bonds with classmates from various backgrounds," Miofsky said. "She engaged in conversations that didn't involve only things she enjoyed or knew of. She honors individuality and differences, and conversations around how we can be different and coexist to build a more compassionate world.
"Tralese is creative, smart and strong-willed enough to persuade others to do great things, but flexible enough to think differently, and adapt to dynamic conditions. Tralese possess openness and intellectual humility. She welcomes new ideas, arguments and information that may not typically align with past perspective."
Campbell plans to go to law school and aspires to be a judge focusing on juvenile delinquency and related issues. She served an internship prior to coming to Lakeland at a juvenile detention center in Chicago and met a judge from her community who inspired her career path.
"When I came to Lakeland and started taking classes with Dr. Miofsky and Dr. (Richard) Lemke, I fell in love with their teaching and I knew this is what I wanted to do," Campbell said.
She is excited for her future. "Chicago is my comfort space, but when I am uncomfortable, I see change," Campbell said. "There is more out there than what Chicago has to offer. There are other cities that would be glad to have me, and I would love to experience that."