2017 Active Citizen of the Year

The recipient of the Active Citizen of the Year award is chosen based on their commitment to lifelong active citizenship - prioritizing community in their values and life choices.

Chelsea Bray at The Ohio State University


Nominator: Bailey Harr | Alternative Break Program Coordinator for Buck-I-SERV

Background: Double Major in Neuroscience and Psychology, Member and Volunteer of Student Advocates for Down Syndrome Student Organization, Volunteer for LIfESports at OSU, Research Assistant at the Institute of Behavioral Medicine, and Volunteer and Fundraising Chair for Alpha Epsilon Delta Pre-Health Honorary

“I have observed Chelsea’s resiliency, dedication to serving others, recognition for human dignity, intercultural understanding and desire to be and do more as an active citizen. [This] award seeks to recognize the same strengths and goals Chelsea has for both the Ohio State campus community and the global community.”  


In her time serving on the advisory board, Chelsea was committed to building an inclusive and just community by consistently challenging herself, peers, and staff involved in the program to develop an active citizen identity.

  • As a program leader, Chelsea was unafraid to push back against exclusive ideas or comments and found ways to constantly consider the dynamics of privilege, power, diversity, and inclusion.
  • Chelsea encouraged other board members to expand their approach toward social issues during their site planning process instead of choosing topics based on what was “trending.”
  • After an experience working with the local Lodge Retirement community, Chelsea led efforts to plan a trip focused on work with aging populations.

Chelsea set a high standard for post-trip reorientation efforts within Buck-I-SERV and the greater Columbus community.

  • After working with World Relief - an organization focused on providing services for immigrant and refugee populations - during an alternative break, Chelsea led a small group of her peers to create a new student organization at Ohio State, Students for Refugees.
  • Students for Refugees continued service with local organizations once they returned home from their trip. In partnership with World Relief and the Ethiopian Tewahedo Social Services in Columbus, the group regularly tutored both children and adult learners in English. (Within one year, the new student group had over 100 participating members.)
  • Chelsea also led efforts in the groups’ advocacy, fundraising, and education through building partnerships with individuals, groups, and nonprofits involved in immigrant rights for justice and equality.

Chelsea’s future plans as a physician are to ensure all children have an equal opportunity to reach their full potential regardless of their socioeconomic circumstance.

  • Once finished with her medical degree, she plans to serve internationally in order to address preventable illnesses in developing communities.
  • Chelsea’s commitment to a child’s self-determination is present within her work with the Down Syndrome Association of Central Ohio where she teaches during the organization’s summer learning academy.
  • People who know Chelsea are quick to note how she frames her current work and future plans with a focus on human dignity, understanding, inclusivity, and civility.

“Chelsea’s belief in serving, creating an inclusive community, educating others on justice and implementing long-term solutions to social problems, is not only a passion and a purpose but Chelsea’s life mission. I hear it, see it, and feel it in every interaction and conversation I have and observe with her.”

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