Penn State students recognized for taking an ethical stand

Two Penn State students received the 2014 Stand Up Award for showing courage and fortitude and demonstrating ethical leadership through personal example. The Stand Up Awards are sponsored by the Rock Ethics Institute in the College of the Liberal Arts at Penn State.

This year's honorees are Zachary Brubaker, a physics major and president of the Penn State Alliance of the Blind and Sighted, and Maggie Cardin, a childhood and early adolescent education major and President of Penn State’s chapter of Aevidum.

"It takes courage and conviction to stand up for the beliefs that we hold dear, especially in the face of social pressures and difficult challenges, and we believe that it is important to acknowledge the efforts of those who have answered this call for ethical leadership and tell their stories so that they serve as moral exemplars who inspire us all," says Nancy Tuana, the Nancy Tuana Director of the Institute and DuPont/Class of 1949 Professor of Philosophy.

For Zachary Brubaker, taking a stand means uniting the blind and sighted to promote respect and equality for workers with disabilities. For Maggie Cardin, taking a stand means working to educate emerging teachers to recognize and prevent depression and suicide in students.

Nominations were sought widely from all Penn State campuses and academic colleges. Each recipient receives a $1,000 cash award, an award certificate, and will be featured in posters across the University campuses. Each honoree also will be featured in a video explaining their work.

Zachary Brubaker founded the Penn State Alliance of the Blind and Sighted to work towards eliminating an exception in the current minimum wage law that allows employers to pay workers with disabilities less than minimum wage. His tireless work has led U.S. Rep. Glenn Thompson to sponsor a bill to eliminate sub-minimum wages for workers with disabilities. Currently, he is working to gain more sponsors for the bill. Click here to see his video.

Maggie Cardin has worked to bring a chapter of Aevidum, an organization devoted to helping teachers recognize and respond to student mental illness, to Penn State.  She has helped create a mental health awareness training class for pre-service teachers in the College of Education at Penn State. This training has helped other pre-service teachers recognize students in crisis mode and come to their aid. Currently, she is working towards bringing this training to pre-service teachers across Pennsylvania. Click here to see her video.

More information is available at

The Stand Up Award is one of many programs organized by the Rock Ethics Institute, which promotes the integration of ethics across the Penn State curriculum and supports innovative interdisciplinary ethical research, teaching, and outreach. The Rock Ethics Institute supports ethics-based curriculum development for new courses and the addition of ethical dimensions to existing courses; organizes faculty resources and seminars on ethics education; and sponsors conferences, lecture series, and research projects on key themes in bioethics, ethics education, leadership, climate change, and the Critical Philosophy of Race. More information about the Rock Ethics Institute can be found at:


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Last Updated April 15, 2014