Jenny Halpern, Sr. Woman's Volunteer Service

Senior Woman's Award for Volunteer Service, 2017

Jenny, from Highland Park, Ill., a senior graduating this spring, is majoring in Human Development and Psychological Services, School of Education and Social Policy, with honors, Dean’s List, with a minor in Dance, School of Communication.

She became involved with Dance Marathon as a freshman, realizing then the power of the Northwestern community. She quotes a phrase, which has inspired her to stay so deeply involved in Dance Marathon: “What we do with our lives echoes in eternity.” The impact of those words is the reason she remained deeply involved in Dance Marathon throughout her years on campus, first as a dancer, then a committee member, and finally as Executive Director.  With this theme as her mantra, Jenny led the 20-person board in its two main duties: evaluating the 60 nonprofit applications requesting funding from Dance Marathon, selecting Gigi’s Playhouse as their primary beneficiary; and planning the committee work leading up to and during this year’s Dance Marathon, held March 3-5, which raised more funds than any former event of its kind.

Gigi’s Playhouse is a nationwide network of Down Syndrome Achievement Centers that promotes free programming to individuals of all ages, their families and communities, impacting two million people across the country. The network provides families a place to understand the diagnosis of Down Syndrome while celebrating their children’s achievements. Northwestern is the first college campus to promote Gigi’s Playhouse. As a leader of the NUDM community, Jenny worked to unite the campus in changing the way the world views Down Syndrome.

In addition to Dance Marathon, Jenny was a company member of Graffiti Dancers, which performs in various campus events. Her advisor, Adrian Bitton, Assistant Director for Leadership and Community Engagement notes, “With her love of Northwestern, ability to connect with others, and her strong sense of responsibility and leadership abilities, Jenny is very much deserving of this award.”

“Jenny, an excellent student, made time to devote herself to raising awareness for those with Down Syndrome, raising funds to help many children. She is a model for volunteer service on the Northwestern campus,” note Margo Brown and Julie McDowell, chairs of The Alumnae’s Senior Woman’s Service Award committee.