Stivers accepted his award on November 18 at the KDP headquarters in Indianapolis, where he gave a speech and met the organization’s executive director. Stivers is a history and education double major from Mundelein, Illinois, who transferred to Lake Forest from the College of Lake County two years ago. At that time, there were only five student members of KDP. Now, there are 25 members.
In an essay that accompanied his nomination letters for the leadership award from Associate Professor and Chair of Education Shelley Sherman and the group’s treasurer, Kaitlin Macanowicz ’14, Stivers explained the gains the Lake Forest College chapter has made in a year’s time because of his “never accept ‘no’ as an answer” attitude.
“Any time I face a barrier, I think to myself, ‘There are five other options that I can try,’” he said.
Stivers’ organizational skills are superb, and his vision for the chapter has inspired others, Sherman said.
“Ryan has energized the membership in multiple ways, creating momentum to raise funds, develop a stronger presence on campus, and provide a foundation for the health of the chapter in the years ahead,” she said.
Stivers has begun to create a relationship between Kappa and other campus organizations and is working to strengthen Kappa’s identity on campus in a general sense and, particularly, with the College’s Student Government.
His extraordinary initiative for the yearly Kathi Surdynski ’01 Memorial Book Drive, in memory of an alumna of the Department of Education, has resulted in the purchase and collection of an unprecedented number of new and used books for the development of classroom libraries n K-8 classrooms with limited resources.
Stivers also has arranged for speakers to come to campus. For example, Josh Bill ’04, who teaches high school social studies in Waukegan and was named the 2012 National History Teacher of the Year, spoke to students in the fall.
Currently, Stivers’ name is on the ballot for the KDP Executive Council, the body that oversees the leadership, strategic vision, and financial resources of KDP. He considers this a huge honor, he said, because of the rigorous interview process he went through to get to this point.
He also is looking forward to the opportunity to continue his service to KDP by working in collaboration with United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), a branch of the United Nations that focuses on sustainable education in third world countries.
As Stivers prepares to exit from his position as the Lake Forest College chapter in a few weeks, he is putting the finishing touches on a handbook for future presidents. After all of that hard work of proving naysayers wrong, he wants to make sure to leave a lasting impact.
“People are always going to tell you, you can’t,” he said. “I just don’t accept that.”