Second-year student Stef Vestal has been selected as the 2023 recipient of the Amanda Harris Memorial Scholarship.
The Amanda Harris Memorial Scholarship was established in 2019 by Professor Emeritus Christina Standerfer in the memory of Clinton School graduate Amanda Harris.
The scholarship is annually awarded to a student committed to working with a community partner organization on a Capstone project focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts.
Vestal’s Capstone project is currently being completed in partnership with the Little Rock School District, with a focus on creating community for all students. Vestal is creating a best practices manual that can be used to create welcoming, safe, and inclusive school environments for LGBTQ+ students.
Throughout the year, she will be involved in several other LRSD projects, including supporting strategic planning for the school board, working on the community optimization process for the district, and serving on a team that is implementing a partnership with Bright Futures. She will also serve as a project manager for “Reimagine LRSD,” helping to increase enrollment and retention in the district.
“I’m excited to work with the Little Rock School District this year on a variety of projects but am especially excited about supporting their efforts to truly make LRSD an empowering, and inclusive environment for all students,” Vestal said. “It’s a huge need and a really important factor in the education space that schools are inviting and safe spaces for students, especially LGBTQ+ ones.”
Last summer, Vestal completed her International Public Service Project with Community and Family Services International (CFSI) in Manila, Philippines. She created a volunteer and intern manual that provided information about CFSI and Manila, supported CFSI in enhancing their social media engagement, and compiled a report about the first stage of the Humanitarian-Development-Peace (HDP) Nexus.
“Throughout my IPSP, I utilized many of the academic skills I learned my first year at the Clinton School,” Vestal said. “Especially from Field Research Methods and Program Planning.”
As a first-year student, Vestal was part of a Clinton School team that partnered with the City of Little Rock to examine how its public spaces like community centers and neighborhood resource centers align with and meet the needs of the community. The project evaluated current uses vs. intended uses of these spaces and provide recommendations to effectively utilize resources to meet the needs.
Vestal is a graduate of Bentley University and George Mason University. She has worked with City Year Rhode Island and City Year Washington, D.C., and served as chair of the City Year National Alumni Association.
About Amanda Harris
Amanda Harris graduated from the Clinton School of Public Service in 2009. Before coming to the Clinton School, Amanda studied at the University of Central Arkansas, earning a degree in communication.
Her passion was human rights and dignity for all people, and she knew the value and power of grassroots organizing, the inclusion of arts into activism, and civil disobedience. This passion was manifested in her work that included being an organizer for and participant in one of the first Soul Force Equality Rides that visited colleges throughout the Southeast to encourage policies affirming the identities of all students and staff.
While completing her International Public Service Project, Amanda worked with a coalition of groups in Brno, Czech Republic, to hold the first Queer Parade in that city. She also served on the board of Center for Artistic Revolution (CAR4AR), an organization that focused on activism through creative endeavors to connect people with the purpose of securing equal rights and fair treatment for all Arkansans. She was known for her engaging personality, her “Arkansassiness,” and her affirmation that her “queer self and Southern self” were big parts of who she was. Amanda died in San Francisco, Calif., on September 23, 2016.