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Emerging Leader Honoree Kevin Tu (Prince George’s)

Kevin Tu is a sophomore at the University of Maryland, and co-founder of an anonymous, peer-to-peer textline for UMD students, called Lean On Me. With thousands of hours of service dedicated to suicide prevention lifelines, a passion for mental health issues and substance abuse, Kevin Tu was selected for the Governor’s Service Awards in the Emerging Leader category.

Lean On Me is a low-barrier service for students and targets populations that are statistically less likely to seek help, such as those in certain racial minorities. Kevin has trained 38 Supporters for a textline at UMD, who will, in turn, emotionally support the UMD community of over 47,000 students.

Also, after supporting people suffering from opioid addiction on the lifeline, Kevin founded CORA, short for Combating Overdoses in Rural Areas. CORA is a nonprofit that reduces the opioid knowledge gap, resource disparities, and the stigma around opioid use. So far, they are helping 181 community partners and are projected to serve over 350,000 Marylanders in the coming year.

If you were to meet Kevin in person, what might strike you about him is that he’s filled with so much joy–he laughs easily, and it’s the kind of laugh that you can’t help but laugh along with. Kevin demonstrates an immense desire to bring that joy to others through his personal life. This manifests in smaller actions, such as him being a wonderful gift-giver, and to larger aspects: as the founder of a satirical newspaper, Lean on Me, and CORA. Kevin is an incredible older brother, and has always been a shoulder to lean on for many of his friends, me included. I want to honor him with this nomination not just because he has demonstrated incredible leadership in humanitarian service, but also because he is a wonderful friend and colleague. Those aspects of his personality are what inspired me to work towards my own dream of creating a free community-based tutoring service, and they are what continue to inspire many others besides myself to better ourselves and the Maryland community.” -Angela Sun, Nominator and Friend