Click Selection

Search News Releases:

News Resources
on the Web

10 May 2007

SADD's National "Student of the Year" 2007
Entering JSU as Nursing Major in the Fall

Reprinted here in its entirety.

Russellville senior selected as SADD national student

By Jonathan Willis
Region Bureau
Times Daily

RUSSELLVILLE -- Sasha Willingham said she couldn't believe it when she got the call informing her that she had been selected as the national student of the year by the Students Against Destructive Decisions organization.

But people who know the Russellville High School senior say they aren't surprised at all that she's the first student from Alabama to receive the honor.

"She's been a student leader here for years," said Russellville High School Principal Rex Mayfield. "She's involved with and excels in just about every activity we have."

Willingham, 18, previously served on the SADD National Student Leadership Council executive committee and will now be the face and voice of the 10,000 chapters nationwide.

"Being chosen SADD National Student of the Year is a great honor and a natural progression for her," said Penny Wells, president and executive director of SADD. "We are sure she will thrive as a leader, educator, and important voice and advocate for teens nationwide."

Willingham, who plans to major in nursing at Jacksonville State University this fall, said she became active in the SADD program as a sixth-grader because she believes in the organization's message.

"I know how drug abuse can affect a family, and I wanted my peers to know that there's a different route," she said.

The SADD organization is a school-based, peer-to-peer education program that is active in thousands of middle schools, high schools and colleges across the country.

The program's mission is to provide students with education, prevention and activism tools to address issues such as underage drinking, drug use, impaired driving, teen violence and suicide.

As the national student of the year, Willingham will serve a one-year term on the SADD national board of directors and lead the 12-member National Student Leadership Council.

"I'm excited about the chance to make a difference and influence teens across the nation to make better life choices," Willingham said. "I believe in SADD's mission, and I hope to accomplish as much as possible within the next year."

In the past, SADD students of the year have addressed Congress about important issues involving young people.

"It's a big job," Wells said. "She will be our representative at any testimonies before Congress or any other task forces, and she will be the spokesperson for our national campaign.

"The student of the year is really our face and voice."

Willingham will begin her term in July during SADD's annual conference in New Orleans.

"Sasha has proven her ability to lead, both on the field as captain of various sports, and in school and community events," said Alabama SADD state coordinator John Perkins, who nominated Willingham for the honor.

"She is one student who I truly believe portrays the SADD lifestyle and is respected by her peers for doing so," he said. "She will be an excellent role model."

In the meantime, Willingham is getting ready for her high school graduation and looking at the challenges ahead.

"I never expected this to happen," she said.

Willingham is already looking into starting a SADD chapter at Jacksonville State once she arrives on campus.

See story at Times Daily's website:

Submit items for news releases by using the request form at