» Schweitzer Rising Star Award

The Schweitzer Rising Star Award is henceforth to be given annually by Chapman University to an inspirational young Alumna/Alumnus who has taken up Albert Schweitzer’s challenge to find a place to invest his or her humanity for the betterment of humankind and the world.

If you would like to nominate a Chapman Alumnus for the Schweitzer Rising Star Award, please complete the nomination form.

2017 Schweitzer Rising Star Award Winner is Sarah Nininger, Class of 2013 and president of Action in Africa.

Sarah NiningerToday Action in Africa is a recognized non-profit organization (both in the USA and Uganda), with a mission to “Educate, Inspire, and Empower” people in Uganda by focusing on education and community development, with the goal of helping community members to reach their full potential and to foster economic growth by becoming the next leaders, innovators, and entrepreneurs in their country.

At 27, Sarah Nininger is the president of Action in Africa and this year’s Chapman University Schweitzer Rising Star award recipient. Action in Africa is a non-profit organization and Nininger lives and works on-site at The Center in Nakuwadde, Uganda. Action in Africa operates on about $150,000 a year. Judging from photos on the Action in Africa website, much of Nininger’s pay comes in the form of hugs, smiles, empowered women and happy kids.

Read more about Sarah ...


For more information about the Schweitzer Rising Star Award, please contact us.

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Past Rising Star Award Winners

In 2016 Shauna Parisi, Class of 2011 and Founder of A Million Thanks was awarded the Schweitzer Rising Star Award.

Mission Statement: A Million Thanks provides support and appreciation to our active and veteran military men and women through sending letters and granting betterment of life wishes, as well as providing higher education scholarships to their children

Shauna FlemingShauna Parisi, formerly Shauna Fleming, is an Orange County native and 2011 graduate of Chapman University and the Dodge College PR & Advertising program. At 15 years old, Shauna started a small service project in Orange County to collect and distribute cards and letters of appreciation to U.S. military stationed around the world. She called the project "A Million Thanks", with the initial goal of collecting one million letters. What began as a local campaign turned into a non-profit organization with national recognition within a matter of weeks. Shauna was invited to a private meeting in the Oval Office with President Bush to recognize the efforts of A Million Thanks and partnered with companies like General Motors and Southwest Airlines to raise awareness for military support. Shauna authored a book chronicling her journey with A Million Thanks and travels the country speaking to groups on the importance of servant leadership. To date, A Million Thanks has sent over seven million letters to our troops around the globe. To celebrate the organization's 10th anniversary in 2014, Shauna expanded the mission of A Million Thanks to also include granting wishes of injured veterans and providing higher education scholarships to children of fallen military. Shauna's husband, Matt, is the Executive Director of A Million Thanks, while she sets and oversees the annual direction of the organization. Shauna has pursued a full-time career as the Director of Marketing for the Farrell's Ice Cream Parlour restaurant group and lives in Newport Beach, California. 

 Read more about Shauna ...


The recipient of the 2015 Schweitzer Rising Star award was Cara Lawler ’12, in recognition of her workCara Lawler with Someone a World Away (SAWA),  a non-profit organization she founded that focuses on the development and expansion of the El Shadai Grace Children’s Centre in Githurai Nairobi, Kenya. Cara’s goal is to buy a permanent plot of land through SAWA and build a new home for the 25 current orphans at the center, and open the door to welcome more children into the home.

Read more about Cara ...


In 2014 Hannah Skvarla was selected as the very first recipient of this award in recognition for her inspiring global humanitarian work.Hannah Skvarla in Guatemala

Hannah Skvarla graduated from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising with a degree in Merchandise Marketing and received her bachelor’s degree in 2010 from Chapman University’s Film & Public Relations Program. After graduation she set out to find ways to “invest her humanity” to make the world a better place!

Along with her friend, Lauren Conrad, Hannah established The Little Market, an online marketplace where women in developing countries can sell their ethically-sourced, handmade products.

Hannah contributes to the blog, Hello Giggles, writing for the "Get Involved" section, which outlines ways in which people can effectively invest their humanity around the world. She is heavily involved with the Human Rights Watch in California.

To learn more about Hannah, the Schweitzer Institute's first Rising Star, view the PDF of her poster.