Courage Day

Courage Day sign
The Widener community celebrated Courage Day on April 11 with hundreds of campus lawn signs asking thought-provoking questions.

The Widener community celebrated a day of unity on the third-annual Courage Day this month, organized by the Oskin Leadership Institute. Students awoke April 11 to hundreds of signs displayed across campus lawns asking thought-provoking questions like “Do you have the courage to choose the harder right?” and “Do you have the courage to stand up for what’s right?”

It was a different feeling walking out of my freshman dorm and seeing the signs — Nicole Brown, biology, pre-medicine major and Apogee Scholar  

“They talked about [Courage Day] to us in meetings and such, but it’s a different feeling actually getting to see it,” Brown said.

Trusted favorites reappeared this year: courage walls featuring personal statements were in multiple campus buildings, and maroon courage keys were back to serve as reminders that each person in the Widener community holds the key to courage. The day also featured two new components: Beideman Visiting Scholar and former Air Force Maj. Heather “Lucky” Penney visited campus for an inspirational talk in Alumni Auditorium, and students who took a “courage pledge” at a pre-Courage Day event were recognized at the end of Penney’s talk.

Penney, who is best known for the incredible courage she displayed in the skies on Sept. 11, 2001, shared how we can choose to practice and cultivate the qualities that enable us all to take courageous action. She shared her conceptual model of courage and how we can choose to practice and cultivate the qualities that enable us all to be courageous - and connect with the hero that we all are inside.
Penney talked about concepts of bravery, belonging and service, and noted courage is created when bravery and service come together. Add in a sense of belonging – created through mutual connection – and we set a foundation for understanding, mutual respect, trust, commitment and shared purpose, she said.

“When we choose to connect, and when we choose to belong, that’s when we begin to set the foundations not just for courage, but for heroism,” she said.
Penney helped distribute courage buttons from the Alumni Auditorium stage to students who had taken a courage pledge and worked to fulfill it in the weeks leading up to Courage Day. The full list of those who took the pledge included:

  • Jenna Muir
  • Emily Gallo
  • Isaiah Washington
  • Alden Littlefield
  • Taylor Young
  • Matt Lomas
  • Kelcey Stanton
  • Katie Herschede
  • Faith Cramutold
  • Sam Lucas
  • Asia McDonald
  • Gloria Tria
  • Jacob Thomas
  • Andrew Eron
  • Taylor Kohnow
  • Johnny Walter
  • Leon Mopecha
  • Robert Erianne
  • Eliza Meals
  • Mason Klaus
  • Jack Brogan
  • Mikayla Mullen
  • Meghan Bell
  • Joe Lofton
  • Samantha Robins
  • Theresa Kash
  • Rebecca Hayes

In the end, students had positive reviews for the day, its message and the inner reflection it prompted.

Brown said she focused on the leadership aspect of the day. She encouraged her classmates to remember, “You don’t need to be the head of anything to a leader or to be courageous. You can be courageous or a leader by doing even just the small things.”

“It’s a really good day here at Widener,” sophomore Charity Williams added.

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