Sharpless, the daughter of Robin and Kathy Sharpless, received the award from Lt. Cmdr. James Mason, a 2006 Wilkes alumnus and Food and Drug Administration inspector of the U.S. Public Health Service.
Jennifer Malinowski, Wilkes associate professor of pharmacy practice, and Dana Manning, Wilkes assistant professor of pharmacy, nominated Sharpless for the award for the leadership she demonstrated while coordinating student-led community service initiatives that promoted the vision of 'Healthy People 2020' and the health of her community. Among the issues addressed by Sharpless’ projects were immunization awareness, stroke prevention, childhood obesity and heart health.
Sharpless helped to establish a collaboration between pharmacy and communication studies department students to develop and broadcast public service announcements that focus on educational interventions on stroke detection and booster shots for pertussis, or whooping cough. She also led a student team in collaboration with the City of Wilkes-Barre Department of Health to promote human papilloma virus detection and cervical cancer screening. The project included co-hosting a booth at the University’s production of The Vagina Monologues to educate attendees on public health outreach programs, such as free PAP smears and HPV vaccinations. She also mobilized on-campus anti-smoking campaigns and led efforts to make Wilkes a tobacco-free campus.
In addition, she has worked with the Wilkes University chapter of Operation Heart, an awareness and cardiovascular education project of the American Pharmacists Association Academy of Student Pharmacists. She distributed information at numerous health fairs and public events and raised funds for heart-healthy initiatives.
During the spring 2014 semester, Sharpless also organized a 5K race to benefit the American Heart Association. As president of the University’s Relay for Life team, her efforts have helped raise over $100,000 for the American Cancer Society. She mentors her junior peers to continue the programs she initiated. She will continue her efforts during the upcoming academic year by performing a pharmacy rotation in New Mexico with the Indian Health Service division.