Sara Kizer


Class of 2013
Communications Arts and Sciences
Schreyer Honors College
Paterno Fellows Program
Penn State University
Nominated by Laura Brown

Sara received this award for helping her peers to develop ethically motivated responses to the needs of others.

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The Penn State Rock Ethics Institute is proud to recognize Sara for the ethical leadership she has displayed in not simply recruiting people to do volunteer work, but in helping her recruits become aware of the obligations we assume when we commit ourselves to doing good for others. Sara’s leadership is evidenced by the courageous way in which she set about changing the status quo within an organization that was already generally recognized for its charitable work.

As president of Student United Way at Penn State, Sara was forced to deal with the sometimes-significant difference between doing the right thing because it is somehow advantageous to oneself, and doing the right thing because it is what one ought to do. We all know that being a member of a philanthropic organization looks good on a resume, and it can be all too easy to forget why this is the case when we are focused narrowly on distinguishing ourselves on paper from others who have similarly impressive achievements. Even if our decision to join is motivated by such concerns, becoming a functional member of the organization requires that we be able to look beyond our own interests, consider the other members of the group, and, even more importantly, the needs of the people for whose benefit such groups exist.

By encouraging others to see that this is really what they signed up for, and that the responsibilities they willingly assumed should not be taken lightly, Sara has helped her peers to develop ethically motivated responses to the needs of other human beings. This makes Sara Kizer the kind of leader that we judge to be especially deserving of our recognition, admiration, and emulation.

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.