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Emory College graduate wins national leadership award

Leigh Schlecht, who graduated from Emory College in May, has been honored by national leadership honor society Omicron Delta Kappa for her work in journalism, speech and mass media. Photo by Julia Munslow 18C.

Leigh Schlecht, who graduated from Emory College of Arts and Sciences in May, has been named one of Omicron Delta Kappa’s (ODK) Leaders of the Year for her work in journalism, speech and mass media.

A Robert W. Woodruff Scholar from Sheboygan, Wisconsin, Schlecht honed her editing skills with work in the Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives and Rare Book Library, as a publishing intern for the Guggenheim Museum and through a host of other copywriting and editing roles.

The national ODK award, part of the leadership honor society’s 2019 General Russell E. Dougherty National Leader of the Year awards, is “tremendous validation” of the significance of editing in publishing and journalism, Schlecht says. 

“This role is often in the background, so it’s encouraging for editing to be recognized as an important part of those professions,” she says. 

The recognition comes with a $1,000 scholarship, which Schlecht will apply to the Master of Philosophy in criticism and culture she begins this fall in the famed English department at the University of Cambridge.

Her ultimate goal is to become a book editor for a trade publisher, and to leverage that platform to bring more diverse authors and perspectives to the reading public. 

“She’s absolutely committed to the ideas of diversity and inclusion and brings a new angle to exposing those values by focusing on publishing,” says Jason Ciejka, assistant dean for academic programs, who worked with Schlecht as director of the Honor Council. “It’s incredible to imagine her possibilities.”
ODK encourages academic achievement, superior leadership and exemplary character. Founded in 1914, the society recognizes campus leadership in five areas: scholarship; athletics; campus or community service, social or religious activities and campus government; journalism, speech and the mass media; and creative and performing arts.

Schlecht was one of five finalists for the top award for her academic leadership as ODK president, her work on the Honor Council, her role in the interdisciplinary IDEAS Fellowship and her position as copy editor for the Emory Wheel.

She is the second national award winner in two years from Emory’s ODK chapter. Sara Frank won the top leadership award from ODK after graduating last year and is now in law school at the University of Virginia.

“Emory is fortunate to have such accomplished leaders,” says Sherry Ebrahimi, Campus Life’s director of conference services and housing administration, who also advises ODK. “Leigh is an outstanding young woman who deserves to be recognized on a national stage.”

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