By Elise Schoening
Starting this semester, the College is encouraging each student on campus to be a hero, but not the kind that wears a mask and cape. Instead, it is looking to honor the everyday heroes that continually save lives by serving as designated drivers.
The HERO Campaign was started in New Jersey in 2000, but represents a national effort to reduce the number of accidents caused by drunk driving. The campaign encourages people to practice safe, sober driving and pledge to be a designated driver for friends and family when in need.
The Alcohol and Drug Education Program (ADEP) on campus is bringing the HERO Campaign to the College this fall and has already awarded two students for their upstanding behavior. Sophomore psychology major Grace Hawruk and junior elementary education and iStem double major Anne Goodwin have been chosen as the HERO of the Year Winners and will represent the Hero Campaign at the College for the 2015-‘16 academic year.
“To be a HERO means that I am a leader and have shown great amounts of strength and courage and have put the lives of others before mine,” Goodwin said. She has been involved in the HERO campaign since 2008 and took the pledge to be a designated driver as soon as she got her license.
Goodwin and Hawruk were nominated for the award by their peers. According to Joe Hadge, the Assistant Director of ADEP, essay nominations were reviewed by the HERO of the Year Committee.
Hawruk was nominated by a close friend, whom she picked up one night after a party. The friend, Hawruk explained, had a little too much to drink and found herself in a bad situation with a guy she had just met. A concerned Hawruk called her friend to check up on her and then offered to drive her friend home.
“At 2 a.m. I got in my car, picked her up and felt the biggest sigh of relief that my friend was ok,” said Hawruk. “My goal as a driver is to make sure people get home safe.”
Since then, Hawruk has committed herself to being a designated driver for friends and family. She understands the dangers of getting in a car where the driver is under the influence and continually tells others that she is “just a phone call away.”
Campus Police and Facilities and ADEP have worked together to award the winners with a parking spot on campus. According to Hadge, one of the winners will use the spot in the fall and the other will use it during the spring.
As HERO of the Year Winners, Goodwin and Hawruk will continue to practice safe and sober driving. They will also work to educate their peers on the dangers of drunk driving.
“Their responsibility is to be who they are: positive Lions with Jersey Strong courage to act,” Hadge said. “If they see something, they will say/do something.”
Although only two students from the College will be chosen each year to represent the campaign, every student on campus has the potential to act like a hero by making good decisions and looking out for their peers. Hadge hopes the campaign will inspire students to become designated drivers and turn potential victims into heroes.