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Alison Alkins named Widener University Class of 2016 Valedictorian

Alison Alkins

Alison Alkins is valedictorian of the Class of 2016.

Alison Alkins of Aston, Pennsylvania, will graduate from Widener University on Saturday, May 21 at the top of her class. With a 4.0 grade point average, Alkins is valedictorian of the Class of 2016.

Alkins, the shortstop for the Widener University softball team, graduates from Widener with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and special education. She also graduates as an Oskin Leader, which means that over the past four years, she has had one-on-one leadership coaching courtesy of Widener’s Oskin Leadership Institute. As an Oskin Leader, Alkins engaged in coaching and programming to help her develop the leadership skills and strengths to focus on one leadership project in particular: encouraging teachers to put “care” back into educating children.

“I saw the need for teachers to really look at their students on an individual basis to determine each child’s unique educational needs and personal situation to best support learning,” said Alkins. “Once I begin my own teaching career, I hope to pick this project back up and have influence over my fellow teachers with plans and best-practices for educating with the whole child in mind.”

Alkins has proven herself a leader on the softball field as well. She has served as captain for the past two years, and this year, she helped organize the team’s annual fundraising event. The event this year focused on a cause dear to her heart as it raised awareness of Lissencephaly, a rare genetic brain malformation that her nephew, Ryan, was diagnosed with at five months old. Alkins and her teammates also raised more than $2,500 to help with Ryan’s medical bills.

Alkins has also given back through a Widener service-learning course that partnered her with an adjudicated youth for literacy tutoring. Her efforts helped improve her partner’s literacy scores by a grade level. She presented on this experience at the National Council for Exceptional Children research conference in Tempe, Arizona.

“I think part of my decision to come to Widener was the civic engagement piece and giving back to the community,” said Alkins. “This project helped me realize that as an educator, I can especially reach out to students who may need extra support and make a true impact.”

She plans to spend her summer helping youth at various softball clinics.

Alkins was named to the Dean’s and President’s lists every semester at Widener. She was a member of the Widener Student Education Association and Kappa Delta Pi honor society.

Alkins is the daughter of Greg Alkins of Newark, Delaware, and Karen and William Southern of Aston. She is a 2012 graduate of Sun Valley High School.

Widener University is a private, metropolitan university that connects curricula to social issues through civic engagement. Dynamic teaching, active scholarship, personal attention, leadership development and experiential learning are key components of the Widener experience. A comprehensive doctorate-granting university, Widener is comprised of eight schools and colleges that offer liberal arts and sciences, professional and pre-professional curricula leading to associate’s, baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral degrees. The university’s campuses in Chester, Exton, and Harrisburg, Pa., and Wilmington, Del. are proud to be a tobacco-free. Visit the university website, www.widener.edu.