Some people might raise an eyebrow when they hear that Kara Trebil’s college spring break trips fueled her life’s passion. But when they discover those trips were the service experiences for which Wartburg is known, Trebil’s calling to help college students serve their community makes perfect sense.
Her passion to serve was ignited as a student, leading a handful of Wartburg service trips around the country, including New Orleans for Hurricane Katrina relief work. She carried the spirit of Wartburg’s mission to Cornell College in Mount Vernon, where she encouraged students to claim their calling as the director of civic engagement. She managed a staff of student-workers who coordinated a variety of volunteer initiatives that engaged hundreds of students, staff, and community members. Fittingly, Cornell’s Alternative Spring Break program boomed under Trebil’s guidance, from one trip in 2009 to seven trips in 2012.
A colleague in the Civic Engagement Office underscored Trebil’s influence on Cornell’s students: “Kara was a role model, mentor, and educator for these students, helping them develop as servant-leaders, but generally facilitating their development as thoughtful, responsible young people.” She was honored with Cornell’s 2012 Student Organization Advisor of the Year award, and she was recognized by the Corridor Business Journal’s annual Forty Under 40 list in 2012.
Trebil earned a master’s degree in Higher Education: Student Affairs from the University of Northern Iowa and is working to complete her Doctor of Education, which has included working at the Student Success Center at the Community College of Aurora in Colorado. In her current position as the community engagement program coordinator at Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Trebil manages programs that connect students with the Cedar Rapids community to support their development as active and educated citizens. Her own faith guides her in supporting students in their personal journeys of faith without judgment. ”I value her ability to respect people of all faith walks in a way that makes the greater community of faith stronger, “ wrote a longtime friend. “She is never divisive and always seeks to bridge any gaps that might exist between faith communities.”
Trebil is involved in the community outside of her job, taking time to tutor adult English-language learners and review grant applications for the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation.
“Kara is deeply committed to staying in this area and serving the students and the people in a place that is home to her,” said Trebil’s supervisor at Coe. “She is a leader from any position that she is in, and she does not have to have power to have influence.”