Newman University is proud to be a title sponsor of The Difference Makers for Wichita awards along with Emprise Bank and The Wichita Eagle/Kansas.com.
The awards, created in 2016, recognize individuals and organizations making a positive difference and celebrate their contributions, value and positive influence on improving the greater Wichita community.
The Brian Bergkamp Student Service Award was presented by Ascension Via Christi and named for the late seminarian Brian Bergkamp, who died while rescuing a fellow kayaker who had fallen into the Arkansas River.
This award is given to a high school student who by example has demonstrated the selfless and giving attitude to positively transform society.
Elizabeth Meister, a senior at Wichita Collegiate School, used the leadership skills learned through the American Heart Association’s Ambassador Program to create her own nonprofit. Heart to Heart involves teaching hands-only CPR within all the private and parochial schools in Wichita and other events.
“Creating Heart to Heart actually started my junior year. I was working with the American Red Cross at the time and they were the ones who trained me for CPR and everything for my certification to be an instructor.
“I’ve been very interested in medicine and health care and just kind of having those lifesaving skills.”
She said her goal is to go into the health-care field and is interested specifically in becoming a surgeon. Though she’s not quite sure what specialty she would end up in, she said, she has looked at orthopedics, neurology and cardiology so far.
Heart to Heart not only lets her be around the work she loves but it also gives her the chance to teach others.
“My goal is to train as many people as possible in lifesaving skills so that they know what to do in case of an emergency. Many of the deaths that occur are outside of the hospital and they are ones that (might be) prevented by a bystander performing CPR.
“So that’s something that I find to be very important for people to know and to feel very comfortable with doing. It’s important to not only just know how to do it, but be comfortable with it so that you’re not frightened.”
Meister said receiving the news that she would be a Difference Makers for Wichita award recipient was a surprising and joyous moment.
“It’s kind of a huge moment for Heart to Heart … I felt so humbled by that. It’s amazing.”