Davidson community awarded for commitment to service

On Thursday, April 21, the Civic Engagement Council hosted their annual Celebration of Service. This year, there were a wide range of awards given to students, professors, and alumnae. As Kyle Goodfellow, the Program Coordinator for the Civic Engagement said, “Tonight’s event is a chance for us to celebrate the exemplary service and civic engagement work in our community.”

Following Goodfellow’s opening, President Carol Quillen gave a heartwarming speech about living a life of courage and bravery in the face of adversity, connecting Davidson’s ideals with that of recent guest speaker Jose Antonio Vargas. She applauded the audience for all of their hard work and positive impacts on the community.

Next, Dustin Atchley ‘16, the outgoing Civic Engagement Council Chair, and Patrick Spauster ‘17, the incoming Civic Engagement Chair, introduced a video that highlighted Davidson’s service programs and other Civic Engagement experiences. The video showed images from alternative break trips, Bonner Scholars programs, Service Odyssey, and the many other ways in which Davidson students give back to their community.

Subsequently, Atchley and Spauster spoke about the Civic Engagement Council itself. The Council is a group of student leaders, and it works tirelessly to inspire and communicate civic engagement efforts through direct service, advocacy, and community involvement. The Council functions as an umbrella organization for thirty-one other service and social action groups on campus with student coordinators who act as liaisons between community non-profits and student volunteers. This past year, the Center for Civic Engagement was honored for the 9th year in a row with the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, which recognizes colleges and universities nationwide for exemplary, innovative, and effective community service programs.

As the evening continued, Atchley and Spauster recognized the 25th anniversary of the Be the Match on Campus organization at Davidson. Be the Match on Campus supports the increasing need for delivering cures for blood cancers through fundraising and typing drives on campus.

Following the recognition, Atchley and Spauster presented the “Leadership in Service” award, which is given to those who exemplify a commitment to service by inspiring others, integrating service into their daily lives, sustaining partnerships with community organizations, and/ or developing programs to benefit the community. The awardees were as follows: Amelia Anderson ‘18; Marlene Arellano ‘17; Will Byrd ‘17; Jonathan Campbell ‘17; Delta Sigma Theta; Abigail Gray ‘16; Anmar Jeerjees ‘18; the John’s Island Service trip represented by Jasper Vaughn ‘16, Reese Schaffner ‘16, Jeremy Andreades ‘17, Victoria Frost ‘18; Kappa Alpha Psi, Inc.; Belle Raim ‘16; and Ashim Situala ‘18.

The Civic Engagement Center then honored the students who work with the Ada Jenkins Center LEARN Works program and have exemplified what it means to be leaders in service. The awardees were Nathan Argueta ‘16, Esther Lherisson ‘19, Thomas McDonough ‘16, Alexandrea Moseley ‘17, Julie Park ‘17, and Lena Parker ‘17. The recipients were excited about and thankful for their awards and recognition. Parker commented, “It’s an honor being able to have served the Davidson Community for four years here. Not many universities or colleges emphasize civic engagement as much as Davidson.”

Following the Leadership in Service award, Dr. Stacey Riemer presented the awards of distinction. First up was the Alumni Service award. Newly created this year, this award honors alumni who enact exemplary service efforts in their communities. This year, the Center honored a team of nine individuals who have dedicated the past two years to building an alumni service initiative from the ground up. During their 45th reunion, members of the Davidson College class of 1968 discussed what it means to enact a life of leadership and service. Following their discourse, the team met regularly over the course of a year through conference calls where they collected and analyzed data, and raised funds to launch the Davidson Serves Alumni Service Initiative during National Volunteer Week in April 2015. This year, the team coordinated over thirty-five service projects engaging 300 alumni in service and civic engagement efforts.  The team was represented by Tom Caldwell, Cecil Clifton, Julia Prosser, and George Shaw.

Next, Dr. Riemer awarded the Outstanding Partnership Award which honors a community member, group, or organization who supports Davidson College students and their civic engagement efforts. First, the Center honored Dr. Bri Nigel who has worked to provide medical care to underinsured and uninsured individuals in the Lake Norman area and strives to include Davidson students in all facets of her work. She has recruited new clinic staff and specialists to expand interpretation services for the largely non-native English speakers. Her leadership has guided the Free Clinic of Our Towns at the Ada Jenkins Center and the Free Clinic of Our Towns student organization to new levels of high quality patient care. The second recipient was Lynn Hennighausen from Davidson LifeLine; she is the President of this non-profit, which was formed in 2012 when the town of Davidson grieved the losses of five residents due to suicide. Starting an initiative led by town leaders and citizens, Davidson LifeLine was founded to promote suicide prevention and mental health awareness.

Next, there was the Sustainability Award, which honors those individuals or groups who have shown commitment to the sustainability of a program enabling its future growth and development. This year, the Center honored the leadership team of Relay for Life represented by Andrew Slade ‘16, Matthew Gilliland ‘17, Elizabeth Helzberg ‘18, and Carley Porter ‘16. After years of inclement weather that directly impacted attendance at their annual fundraising event, the group was determined to execute their most successful fundraising event. By securing the usage of Baker Sports Complex, the organization saw a record 230 Davidson College students, faculty, and staff and raised over $32,000.

Subsequently, Dr. Reimer presented the Dreams into Action Award, which honors those who make their vision for service a reality. The award was given to the Davidson Refugee Support group represented by Hayden Bates ‘17, Anmar Jerjees ‘18, and Aman Madan ‘17. A few months ago, this student group developed from passion, concern, and personal connection with individual sand families affected by the Syrian Refugee Crisis. Today, they work multiple times per week with nearly 100 refugees in the Charlotte area, fostering instruction in English and relationships among refugees and Davidson College students.

After the Dreams into Action Award, the Engaged Scholarship award was presented to two faculty members who integrate community-based learning into their curriculum. The first recipient, Dr. Rebeca Fernandez, focuses on language development and academic socialization of linguistic minorities. She has been one of the main drivers in developing an ELL programs in Cornelius Elementary School. She provided Davidson Students the opportunity to develop ELL literacy curriculum and serve as weekly tutors. The program has been able to boost the students’ literacy enough in two months to ensure that all ten of the students were promoted to first grade.

The second recipient, Dr. Lauren Stutts, is known for her work with college student resiliency, health and well-being. This year, she incorporated community elements into her Medical Humanities course entitled Health Psychology and the Obesity Epidemic. Her students have completed 11 group projects including cooking classes with Davidson Refugee Support, a weight training program at he Pines, a nutritional program at Mooresville Elementary School, and many more.

Last but not least, the Unsung Hero award was presented to someone whose personal service commitment may go unnoticed. This year’s recipient, Philip Yu ‘16, has consistently gone above and beyond in his work through his commitments with the Bonner Leadership Team, serving as a SEED20 Ambassador, volunteering for two years with Sow Much Good, and Ada Cooks. He also served as the Logistics leader for the Food Symposium, helping ensure the event’s success.

The Celebration of Service was a spectacular event that highlighted the work of a wide variety of students, professors, and alumni. The Davidson community continues to showcase its achievements and commitment to civic engagement and, and all of these students hope to continue their dedication to service into the upcoming academic year.

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