BATAVIA – In March, Batavia High School graduate Kelsey Nulph, devised, planned and hosted a musical event on the campus of Wartburg College in Iowa – a benefit concert to raise funds for the treatment and prevention of malaria worldwide. The Wartburg Malaria Initiative, which she created, has raised more than $36,000 this year. The benefit concert was the signature event in a multifaceted drive complementing the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s Malaria Campaign. She has been recognized for her philanthropic efforts with the Dell Award for Peace and Justice, Nobility Award and the St. Elizabeth’s Award for Service. The third-year college student took a few moments to answer questions of Republican Managing Editor Sherri Dauskurdas about the Wartburg Malaria Initiative, the concert and why she feels so passionate about the cause.
Sherri Dauskurdas: Why did you begin the Wartburg Malaria Initiative?
Kelsey Nulph: Last January (2012), I learned of a grant opportunity provided through the ELCA for colleges/universities to get involved in the ELCA Malaria Campaign. After constructing a plan and rallying the support of Wartburg faculty, staff and students, I applied for a grant and was notified weeks later that I received two grants. One grant was to be allocated toward social media costs, and the other for programming costs. Through both grants, matching funds were provided to match all that Wartburg would eventually raise. I built the initiative on four key tiers; education, hospitality, fundraising and the benefit concert. After planning all last spring and summer, the Wartburg Malaria Initiative finally began in September. As a whole, the initiative has involved over a third of Wartburg’s student body and has raised a little over $36,500, all of which will be matched through the grant when we have our final fundraising total. The original fundraising goal was $35,000, so after achieving that goal, a new fundraising goal has been set to $38,000 by the end of May, the conclusion of our academic year.
SD: What was the impetus behind the concert?
KN: My goal was to involve as many students, faculty, staff and community members as I could. The concert was another way to do just that. I was able to form a committee of incredible Wartburg students who were extremely dedicated to planning the concert. The concert featured four professional performers, three of which were Wartburg alumni, and it also featured 16 performing student groups. Not only was the concert an opportunity to showcase the musical gifts that so many Wartburg students have, but it was also an opportunity to celebrate the campus and communitywide efforts and success of the initiative. We had several professional speakers throughout the concert who educated the concert attendees about malaria. The concert was a tremendous success and helped us to meet our fundraising goal.
SD: How did it resonate to hear first-hand accounts of the crisis from fellow students?
KN: It has been powerful to be a part of the life-saving work of the ELCA Malaria Campaign. I became involved in the campaign through Jessica Nipp Hacker, who is the campaign manager for the ELCA Malaria Campaign, and she is also a Wartburg alumnus. Last November Jessica delivered the message at a weekday chapel service, sharing information about how the campaign is working within countries of Africa where malaria is present. I remember very clearly that in her message, Jessica shared that a child dies every 45 seconds of malaria. I was shocked to hear how malaria was claiming the lives of so many and yet was a preventable and treatable disease. In that moment, I realized I wanted to get involved in the ELCA’s work to help eradicate malaria.
SD: What will the monies raised, and the match, fund?
KN: Because the Wartburg Malaria Initiative is in direct cooperation with the ELCA Malaria Campaign, the money that we raise through our initiative provides funding for medicine to treat malaria, an opportunity to train healthcare providers to help diagnose and treat malaria, education for people on how to protect themselves from the mosquitoes that spread malaria, how to recognize symptoms and seek treatment. The funds raised also provide preventative medication to protect pregnant women and their babies, and the campaign works with governments to provide healthcare and education to all who live in areas that are affected by malaria. The ELCA Malaria Campaign is working within 11 countries in Africa where malaria is present.
SD: Were you involved in service projects through your church or school here in Batavia, prior to attending college?
KN: My freshmen and sophomore years of college, I developed and coordinated Blankets of Love, a service project dedicated to involving more than 600 Wartburg students and 52 campus organizations in creating fleece-tie blankets for residents at local children’s homes. The project recently has been adopted by two underclassmen, so I continue to serve as a project mentor. I am a trained and active peer helper on campus, and I have facilitated a campus leadership team for Campus Ministry. While at Batavia High School, I served on Student Council and developed and led the “Stand Up. Stand Out” bullying initiative, which connected BHS students to Rotolo Middle School students through a variety of anti-bullying prevention programs.