CKI member wins nationally televised tuition contest

CKI member wins nationally televised tuition contest

Victory in football-throwing competition brings money and kudos from across the U.S.

Kiwanis International congratulates Andrew Jiminez, a member of Circle K International — our Service Leadership Program for university students — for winning US$100,000 in tuition during college football’s SEC Championship Game on Saturday. A member of the Sandhills Community College CKI Club and lieutenant governor of the Carolinas District, Jiminez won the Dr. Pepper Tuition Challenge during halftime, tossing 18 footballs into the sponsor-branded “can” in a timed competition.

His win during the televised game got national attention and compliments for his technique. See some of the reaction below — including video of the contest when you click the CBS Sports tweet.

Scholarship recipients share passion for service

Scholarship recipients share passion for service

The Kiwanis Children’s Fund honors 7 scholars who developed skills through Key Club and CKI. 

By Erin Chandler 

The outstanding scholars who will receive this year’s Kiwanis Children’s Fund Scholarships stood out among 459 applicants not only for what they have already accomplished, but for their commitment to creating a more just and inclusive future. Through their membership in Key Club and Circle K International, these seven students have grown as leaders and are ready to further pursue their passions to create a more equitable world in the fields of science, healthcare, business, environmental stewardship and education. The Kiwanis Children’s Fund is honored to help them continue their education in the upcoming academic year. 

Maya Narayan, Linda Canaday Memorial Scholarship
Maya Narayan is a recent graduate of Goshen High School in Indiana, U.S., where she served successively as her Key Club’s secretary, vice president and president. She also served the Indiana District of Key Club as a lieutenant governor and as secretary-treasurer. Narayan was an officer in her school’s Multicultural Youth Alliance, three-year student council class president, an active leader in her local 4-H club and a record-setting captain of the Goshen High School girls’ golf team. Narayan has a passion for singing and has participated in multiple choirs as well as in national vocal programs. She won lead roles in school and professional musicals — most recently that of Wednesday Addams in “The Addams Family.” Initially hesitant about joining Key Club, Narayan was drawn in by how it helped her grow as a leader. “That is what I appreciate most about the Key Club community,” she says. “We are a group of tomorrow’s leaders whose horizons keep broadening.” She will continue to broaden her horizons next year as a freshman at Western Michigan University. 

Swarada Kulkarni, Kiwanis Children’s Fund Scholarship
Swarada Kulkarni is a recent graduate of West Ranch High School in California, U.S. She designed the website for her school’s Key Club before going on to serve as its vice president, then as her division’s project coordinator and finally on the California-Nevada-Hawaii District’s technology team. According to her former division lieutenant governor, Kulkarni is “a true brainstormer, team worker and, most importantly, a kind-hearted person.” In addition to Key Club, Kulkarni has served as an ambassador for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and taken on leadership roles in Academic Decathlon, Speech and Debate Club, the California Scholarship Federation and the National Art Honors Society. She is an award-winning Hindustani classical singer, world champion dragon boat paddler and volunteer in urgent care, emergency room and neonatal intensive care settings. Kulkarni is founder and CEO of the nonprofit Bridge to Hope Foundation, which works to minimize the effects of income inequality around the world. Next year, she plans to attend Vanderbilt University with the goal of becoming a neurosurgeon, providing affordable healthcare in underserved regions around the world.  

Lilian Thai, Kiwanis Children’s Fund Scholarship
Lilian Thai is the current president of Key Club International. A recent graduate of Garland High School in Texas, U.S., Thai was a member of Garland High School Key Club for four years. She served as a Key Club division governor before becoming governor of the Texas-Oklahoma District. In her role as Key Club International president, Thai launched a scholarship to increase access to the Key Club International convention, created resources for clubs in the newly chartered Philippine Luzon District, mentored fellow Key Club leaders and sought to promote diversity, equity and inclusion. “My priority has always been to serve the members of our organization with passion and love,” she says. In addition to Key Club, Thai is a member of UNICEF, served as treasurer in the National Honor Society and spent two years as captain of her varsity tennis team. She will take the skills she has acquired in her leadership roles to Southern Methodist University, where she will major in business administration. 

Brittani Meis, Circle K International Past Presidents Scholarship
Brittani Meis is a student at Colorado State University, U.S., where she is pursuing a degree in soil and crop science. She has served her school’s Circle K International Club, first as treasurer, then as president. As a club leader, Meis focused on creating more volunteer opportunities and partnerships that forged connections between CKI and the community. She even put her background in agriculture to use by partnering with The Growing Project, a community garden organization. Meis hopes to take the leadership and networking skills she has developed through CKI with her to graduate school and then around the world as she uses sustainable agriculture to help those suffering from malnutrition and poverty. Outside of CKI, Meis has served as vice president of the Striders running club, president of her school’s agronomy club and an agroecology lab assistant.  

Aleisa Tobin, John E. Mayfield Circle K International Scholarship
Aleisa Tobin is a student at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, U.S., where she is pursuing a degree in adolescent to young adult life science education. Under her leadership as vice president and president, her school’s Circle K International club increased its membership, service hours and number of projects, and it was able to secure university funding to send 10 members to the Ohio District convention for the first time. Her club’s advisor states that Tobin’s “charisma allows her to engage with her fellow students and motivate them to want to do more and make a bigger impact.” In preparation for her teaching career, Tobin is a Science and Math Education in ACTION Scholar and a board member for her university’s Science Education Council. She hopes to use the skills she has built in CKI to become a compassionate and inclusive teacher who inspires her students to learn and lead. 

Grace Nguyen, Kiwanis Children’s Fund Scholarship
Grace Nguyen is pursuing a degree in cell and molecular biology at Seattle University in Washington, U.S. She is the past secretary and current president of her school’s Circle K International club, and she takes pride in incorporating her passion for activism and social justice into her leadership. Her club’s advisor credits Nguyen with leading the club “to new and record heights” in membership and community involvement, for which the club received an Excellence in Service Award. In addition to Circle K International, Nguyen works part-time as a student peer research consultant with the Seattle University Lemieux Library and McGoldrick Learning Commons and as a student programming assistant with the Seattle University Office of Multicultural Affairs. She has held leadership roles in the Seattle University Japanese Student Association; Asian, Pacific Islander, Desi American Student Association; Vietnamese Student Association; and biology club. 

Matthew Yuro, Kiwanis Children’s Fund Scholarship
Matthew Yuro is a student at The College of New Jersey, U.S., where he is pursuing degrees in special education, elementary education and history. He has served on and chaired multiple committees for Circle K International at the club, district and international levels, and he is the current lieutenant governor of his division. At the 2022 Circle K International Convention, Yuro was honored as New Member of the Year and Outstanding International Committee Member. In his quest to become an educator, Yuro holds leadership roles in the New Jersey Education Association Preservice, Student New Jersey Education Association, Teachers of Young Children Association, history club and multiple peer mentoring organizations. He is a tutor at his college’s tutoring center, the Monroe Township School District and a private tutoring agency. “Circle K International is more than just a club for me,” Yuro says. “It’s a place for me to be my best self with a community of like-minded people who truly care for me and want to help others in the local community.” 

Visit the Kiwanis Children’s Fund Scholarship Opportunities page for information about scholarships distributed by the Children’s Fund, including who to contact with questions and award notification dates. 

Building strength and pursuing dreams in Key Club

Building strength and pursuing dreams in Key Club

Brooke Moreland’s family was homeless when she joined Key Club. The skills and “grit” she built there took her to CKI, Harvard and beyond. 

By Julie Saetre

In 2003, on Brooke Moreland’s first day at Broad Ripple High School in Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S., she was looking for her locker when she came across of group of students sitting on the floor, painting a banner for a football game. She peered into the classroom behind the students and saw a woman observing the creative session. “What are you guys doing?” she asked the woman. 

The answer: The students were part of Key Club International, a community service organization for high school students in the Kiwanis International family. 

Intrigued, Moreland began attending Key Club meetings and quickly became invested in the group’s many service opportunities. Eventually, she became the club’s president. 

It wasn’t such an unusual way to become involved with Key Club — but Moreland’s personal situation at the time was. 

“I started my service with Kiwanis at a really interesting point in life,” she says. “When I was in high school, our family lost our home. So we lived in a couple of shelters across the city. What was really significant, even through that hardship, was that I still kept volunteering.” 

The grit to keep going
Moreland credits Key Club, and the support and mentorship of that club advisor she spoke to the first day, with helping her develop the strength and determination to continue her leadership and service journey. 

She calls it “grit.” And she defines it this way: “No matter your circumstances, your background, just having that firmness of mind or spirit, that unyielding charge, that in the face of hardship, you can still serve — even being that 16-year-old who lost their home — and people can serve you.” 

It’s not surprising, then, that when Moreland attended Butler University in Indianapolis after high school graduation, she would bring that commitment to service with her. Butler’s Circle K International club was inactive when Moreland began her studies in 2007, so she contacted an upperclassman and reactivated the club. She would go on to serve as lieutenant governor for the CKI Metro-Fields Division. 

“If you see it, you’re already there”
As a resident assistant in one of the university’s dorms, Moreland implemented service-learning opportunities for those rooming there. One of those was a program she called Holding Hands with Our Future, which she launched in the fall 2008. Her mother had started a book club for Moreland’s 7-year-old brother and wanted to show the young members where reading and literacy could take them.  

Moreland invited the group to Butler for a day. She paired each child with a resident at her dorm. In the morning, the children attended classes with their new mentors, then shared lunch and talked about the opportunities college could offer. 

“Everyone liked it so much, we continued the program in the second semester,” she says. “It became so popular that I founded a nonprofit called the Rose of Hope Foundation when I was 19. That was my first experience giving birth to a service-learning program meant to impact others.” 

Rose of Hope targeted students who didn’t believe they could go to a college or university. They weren’t doing well in school, and they didn’t see education after high school as a realistic goal. 

“We wanted to bring them on campus and get them really excited about the possibility,” Moreland says. “The main theme was, ‘If you can see it, you’re already there.’ It sounds like magic, but it’s true. If you see yourself somewhere, you start wanting to talk to people who value being there. You start doing better because you want to be there. You become integrated into this community of value. That puts you on a different trajectory. It demystifies the barriers that we put into our own minds.” 

A full-circle moment
Moreland would earn a master’s degree through the Indiana University-Bloomington Higher Education and Student Affairs program and receive a doctorate from Indiana Wesleyan University’s Organizational Leadership and complete a graduate certificate program from Harvard with the CAEL program in Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S. 

Today, she works at the Indiana University School of Education – Indianapolis as associate director for Community Engagement and Coalition Building in the Collaborative for Equitable and Inclusive STEM Learning (CEISL). CEISL is a set of grant-funded initiatives designed to provide sustainable support in lifelong learning with technology — especially for learners from structurally marginalized identities and communities. 

It’s a long way from the challenges she confronted in a family facing homelessness. 

“To come out on the other side and now be working, mentoring and continuing service leadership — it’s a full-circle moment,” she says. “It’s beyond just a philosophical call to action. It becomes the fabric of someone’s mindset. You have the opportunity to then make your mark in the world.  

“Anytime I’m tapped to volunteer or speak for anything Kiwanis, I’m always onboard.” 

Key Club charter bell comes home

Key Club charter bell comes home

A random find at a car show makes its return more than six decades after its debut. 

By Paula Vidal, executive board member, Lindenhurst Kiwanis Club 

When checking the Facebook Messenger page for the Kiwanis Club of Lindenhurst, New York, U.S., I came across a question asking if our club supported a Key Club. I replied that we do: the Lindenhurst High School Key Club, which has more than 60 members who participate in activities benefiting the community. I am the Key Club’s Kiwanis advisor and have been meeting with its members for the past five years. 

The sender was William Boss, a resident of another Suffolk County community. He had seen a Key Club charter bell at a swap-and-meet car show where vendors were also selling items. Boss, who has a collectibles business, recognized the bell as a meaningful find: He had received one from the local Kiwanis chapter in 1979, when he was founding president of the Key Club at Sayville High School.  

“It was like déjà vu,” Boss says. “I could barely make out the inscription, which said, ‘To the Key Club of Lindenhurst High School, 1959,’ but I knew what it was.”  

The vendor asked Boss for US$200 but they agreed on $30, and Boss walked away with the treasure, contacted us and offered to return it to the Lindenhurst community. 

The parent club of the Lindenhurst Kiwanis Club was chartered in 1950, so the Key Club was either founded in 1959 or was in its infancy when the bell was gifted to the school. It is unknown when the bell went missing.   

Once the bell was cleaned up and the inscription was more visible, our Kiwanis club invited Boss and the Lindenhurst High School Key Club officers to a special ceremony. On May 11, Boss presented the bell to the Key Club’s incoming president, Marissa Howard, a junior. Howard promised to safely return it to a showcase at the school. 

“I am so excited to be able to use the bell during our meetings and teach the old and new members about its history,” says Howard.