A Northwestern alumna-turned Evanston principal took the stage as Block 5 came to a close to stress the importance of helping the community and remind dancers of how their fundraising for Blessings in a Backpack will materially help local children.
Michelle Cooney (SESP '96), the interim principle of Lincoln Elementary School in Evanston, said she puts lunch bags into 75 of the school's 530 students each day through Blessings in a Backpack. Although Evanston is often perceived as an affluent neighborhood, Cooney said 43 percent of her kids are low-income.
"Whether you know it or not, your participation here is making a diffrence and helping families within the community during some of their most challenging times," Cooney said.
Cooney told her story of coming to Northwestern, which served as an example for how students could join and serve the Evanston community. Coming to Northwestern from Philadelphia, she and a close friend quickly volunteered at Evanston schools and enmeshed themselves into the community. Ater joining the Peace Corps and volunteering in Uganda, she came back to Evanston and rose to the position of principal. Yet she said students did not need to go to such globetrotting lengths to follow her lead.
"No matter what you do, always be mindful of the community you're in," Cooney said.
For Medill sophomore and DM dancer Meg Killadar, Cooney's story served as an inspiration.
"It really shows the power of the Northwestern community that she came to Northwestern and the community here kind of inspired her to give back to Evanston," Killadar said.