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Sarah Stacy
Dole Institute of Politics
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Dole Institute announces recipients for 2022 Robert J. Dole Service to Country Award, Elizabeth Dole Public Service Award

Thu, 05/12/2022

LAWRENCE — The Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas has announced the winners of the 2022 Robert J. Dole Service to Country Award and the 2022 Elizabeth Dole Public Service Award.

“The student culture at the Dole Institute is rooted in encouraging civic engagement and public service,” said Audrey Coleman, director of the Dole Institute. “With this past year’s return to in-person events and programming, we were thrilled to see those in the Dole Institute’s Student Advisory Board take full advantage of all the opportunities we offer, including applying for these prestigious awards. We are excited to celebrate these young people for their hard work and dedication and to give special recognition to our award recipients.”

Raina PeterThis year’s recipient of the Robert J. Dole Service to Country Award is Raina Peter, of Topeka. The award was established by John Pinegar, Douglas Smith and Pinegar, Smith & Associates Inc. to provide a $1,000 award to an active member of the Dole Institute Student Advisory Board. This student must show commitment to public service and demonstrate leadership qualities through their experience with the Dole Institute and the KU community. 

Peter was awarded this honor due to the depth of her involvement in community service since high school, including registering voters and serving as a debate coach for underserved youth.

Peter is a sophomore in economics and political science, with a minor in Chinese. She graduated from Washburn Rural High School. She has been a member of the Dole Institute of Politics Student Advisory Board since fall 2020, and during that time, she served as a discussion group coordinator. She is also a member of KU’s Trade War Research Lab. This summer, she will intern in the Office of Investment Affairs at the Department of State. She plans to pursue a law degree following graduation.

Grace MechlerThis year’s winner of the Elizabeth Dole Public Service Award is Grace Mechler, of Lawrence. The award was established by John D. Pinegar, Douglas E. Smith and Kathleen M. Smith to provide a $1,000 award each year to an active member of the Dole Institute Student Advisory Board. The recipient must demonstrate their commitment to public service by supporting and growing student culture and embracing opportunities to bridge their education with future goals.

Mechler was chosen as the recipient because of her strong connection to the Lawrence community and her early and consistent commitment to public service, which goes as far back as elementary school. This includes co-founding the student volunteer organization SPARK project.

Mechler is a sophomore in political science and English, with minors in Spanish and intelligence & national security studies. She graduated from Lawrence Free State High School. She has served on the Dole Institute of Politics’ Student Advisory Board since spring 2021 and began her work as the student development and fundraising intern in fall 2021. She said she has also enjoyed her work throughout college at the Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence, Lawrence Community Shelter and KU SPARK project. In the future, she plans to pursue a career in immigration law.

The Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics is dedicated to promoting political and civic participation as well as civil discourse in a bipartisan, philosophically balanced manner. It is located in KU’s West District and houses the Dole Archive and Special Collections. Through its robust public programming, congressional archive and museum, the Dole Institute strives to celebrate public service and the legacies of U.S. Senators Bob Dole and Elizabeth Dole. 

Top right photo: Raina Peter, recipient of the 2022 Robert J. Dole Service to Country Award.

Bottom right photo: Grace Mechler, recipient of the 2022 Elizabeth Dole Public Service Award.



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