Kent State Names Third Alan Canfora Activism Scholarship Winner
Kent State University has awarded the Alan Canfora Activism Scholarship for 2023-2024 to activist and incoming Kent State student Kyndra Irwin of Mount Gilead High School in Mount Gilead, Ohio.
The Alan Canfora Activism Scholarship celebrates Canfora’s life, his Kent State experience and the importance of social justice and advocacy to society. On May 4, 1970, members of the Ohio National Guard fired into a crowd of Kent State demonstrators, killing four students and wounding nine, including Canfora. He was a tireless leader in the fight to protect and publicize the legacy of May 4.
Kyndra’s personal history has driven her life of activism. Diagnosed with Tourette’s Syndrome (TS) in middle school, she wrote in her essay that she experienced “a sudden onslaught of motor movement and verbal sounds.” Some peers, teachers and coaches were “disbelieving and cruel” and expected her “to control” her body.
After working through hurt feelings, Kyndra recognized that if she wanted different reactions, she needed to “get busy and help make changes.” She educated herself thoroughly on TS and completed the Tourette’s Association of America’s Youth Ambassadorship Program. She began holding “Tic Talks” in her community to educate adults and the 5th grade students in her rural community. This led to her being invited to Washington, D.C., where she met with national leaders to share her story and to advocate for continued support for youth with TS.
Kyndra’s science teacher called her a “driven leader” and cited her other accomplishments, including being vice president of her school’s National Honor Society and President of Jobs for Ohio Graduates (JOGS).
Michael Solomon, a 1974 Kent State graduate, established the Alan Canfora Activism Scholarship in December 2020 to honor Canfora’s life and legacy. This scholarship provides up to two years of renewable support to a Kent Campus incoming first year or transfer student who has a demonstrated interest in social justice and advocacy and a demonstrated commitment of care and compassion toward others.
Donations to the scholarship fund in Canfora’s name may be made via the Alan Canfora Activism Scholarship page. For more information about this year’s May 4 Commemoration, visit the May 4 website.