Student Spotlight: Audrey Ruark

Audrey Ruark

by Sabbaye McGriff   Audrey Ruark never would have imagined that in just one short year as a…

Georgia (Oct 8, 2009)

by Sabbaye McGriff
Audrey Ruark never would have imagined that in just one short year as a student at Kennesaw State she would be leading a campus-wide effort for an international organization dedicated to eliminating global poverty.
Nor did she believe that after enrolling at KSU last fall as a first-year student, she would have a chance within one year to confer in Washington, D.C with 99 other student leaders from across the U.S. and return there for training to help campuses throughout Georgia and Alabama mount successful global anti-poverty initiatives.
Yet this sophomore from Milledgeville, Ga., who is now “very close” to declaring International Affairs as her major, has quickly stepped onto the world stage, embracing KSU’s “get global” and engaged citizenship aspirations as her own.
“It still blows my mind that I’m the leader of something this great,” says Ruark, whose only conscious step in the direction of a dream-come-true collegiate experience was enrolling in a ONE-themed learning community that included a section of the globally focused first-year seminar course. 
According to its Web site, ONE is a global advocacy and campaigning organization with more than 2 million backers worldwide dedicated to fighting extreme poverty and preventable diseases, particularly in Africa. Although it is a broad coalition of people and organizations, ONE has been very closely associated with its famous co-founder, Bono, and fellow entertainer/activists Bob Geldof and Dave Mathews. Their series of “Live 8” concerts in 2005 succeeded in pressuring leaders attending the G8 Summit to cancel debts and double aid to Africa by 2010. 
As KSU’s ONE Campus Challenge leader, Ruark initiated a series of campus projects that have catapulted her to the leadership ranks, earning her the privilege of attending ONE’s Power Summit in Washington, D.C. last February and a special training in August to become a ONE campus outreach ambassador — one of the youngest among 14 nationwide. 
In the last year, Ruark has succeeded in having KSU President Daniel Papp declare KSU a ONE campus; spoken to 10 classes about global poverty and the ONE campaign; set up tables at campus events and passed out literature;; organized the sale of fair-trade and survivor-made goods, raising $1,300 for the Not for Sale Campaign against human trafficking; and coordinated with local ONE representatives to have Atlanta designated a “City of ONE.” In addition, on October 1, she collaborated with Toms Shoes to organize a one-mile, barefoot walk around the KSU Green to raise money to buy shoes for children in undeveloped countries. Toms Shoes sponsors a national philanthropy to donate a pair of shoes for each pair it sells. More than 130 students, staff and faculty participated in the walk, raising nearly $1,000 for the cause.     
As a result of Ruark’s efforts, KSU was ranked 12th among more than 1,000 colleges participating in ONE’s national Campus Challenge, which offers an alluring top prize. Last year, the No.1-ranked school won a campus concert by Vampire Weekend, Rolling Stone’s 2008 pick for best new band. In addition, Ruark stands a good chance of being among the top 20 campus challenge leaders to be selected to go to Africa in summer 2010.
While the trip, prize and recognition are great motivators, they are not the only things fueling Ruark’s passion to make KSU a top ONE campus and help other schools join the challenge.
“I love doing it,” Ruark said of organizing the events. “When I set up a table, the first question I ask people when they stop by is: ‘Did you know that one in six people in the world live on less than $1 a day?’ So many people just don’t know the scope of poverty in the world. I’m glad I can help educate them.”  
Like many global engagement opportunities for KSU students, Ruark’s emanated from collaboration between university departments, faculty and staff. In this case, Karen Heilmann,civic engagement coordinator for KSU’s Center for Student Leadership, presented the ONE Campus Challenge to a globally focused first-year seminar led by Keisha Hoerrner, chair of First-Year Programs in the University College.  
 “Audrey stepped up right away to serve as the ONE Campus Challenge leader at KSU,” Hoerrner said. “The rest is history. She has taken this further than Karen and I dreamed possible.” 
Visit to sign up for the ONE Campus Challenge and select Kennesaw State University to help send Audrey Ruark to Africa.



A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit