Class of 2009
Letters, Arts, and Sciences
Penn State Shenango
Koann received this award for her leadership in raising awareness about Pennsylvania’s Safe Haven Law, which provides for a safe, legal, and confidential alternative to abandoning a newborn.
Do you know about the Pennsylvania Safe Haven Law? Odds are, you’ve never heard of it. Yet this law offers an important option to parents who are unable to care for their newborn infants. This law ensures that such parents can, without fear of prosecution, give their newborn child to any hospital staff member for safe haven. The infant will receive needed medical care and the county’s child and youth agency will help to find the child a suitable and loving home. Supporters of the Safe Haven Law believe the law helps to ensure the welfare of these infants by providing an option for parents who feel they have no other choice.
When Koann Eicher discovered that most people did not know about this law, she decided to take a stand. She believed that if more parents knew about the Safe Haven Law, tragedies could be prevented. Koann lived her values and embraced the importance of ethical leadership by committing her time and energy to educating teenagers. She organized a free informational session about the Safe Haven Law with a local Shenango lawyer. Together, they explained the Safe Haven Law and how hospitals would care for infants until they could be placed in foster care.
This was only the beginning of Koann’s efforts to protect the welfare of these newborns and provide options for their parents. She presented her research at the Undergraduate Research Conference at the Penn State Behrend campus, exposing how little people know about these laws. Koann also interviewed a high school superintendent about organizing informational programs at a local school and talked to a social worker for the homeless. She also plans to travel around Pennsylvania to spread awareness. People have accepted her project with thanks and inspiration.
Koann is dedicated to the education of Pennsylvanians about this important law. Her commitment is fueled by empathy. She has a teenage daughter herself, and understands how difficult it would be for a teenager to be faced with an unplanned pregnancy. Her love for her daughter has helped her appreciate the importance of loving and just options for young parents and their infants. Thanks to her leadership and courage, more teenagers will know that the Safe Haven Law is an option in the context of difficult ethical choices.
Ignorance is a barrier that can cost lives. Koann Eicher had the courage and conviction to combat ignorance in her community. Share her story with others and we will all benefit from her leadership.
To learn more about Pennsylvania’s Safe Haven Law, please go to: http://www.secretsafe.org/
Watch & learn about her ethical leadership
Do you know a Penn State undergraduate student who stands up for a belief, a cause, or an idea?
The Rock Ethics Institute inaugurated the Stand Up Award to honor Penn State undergraduate students who have demonstrated courage, fortitude, and ethical leadership by taking a stand for a person, a cause, or a belief. This award and the individuals it honors should remind the entire Penn State community of how often the extraordinary act is possible in ordinary circumstances.