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President Emeritus John M. McCardell (2nd from right) with students Veronica Muoio, Yuan Lim, Robin Curtis, and Carrie Sparkes.

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Students recognized for public service leadership

May 12, 2010

MIDDLEBURY, Vt.-Fifty-four Middlebury College students and one student organization were honored for their volunteerism at the 17th annual Public Service Leadership Awards reception held May 3 at the McCullough Student Center.

The students were nominated by service agencies throughout Addison County, by local individuals, and by their peers. All of the nominees received certificates from Dean of Students Augustus E. Jordan and recognition from the more than 100 students, faculty, staff, and community members in attendance at the event.

Also presenting certificates was Patrick J. Durkin from the Class of 1979, who founded the Public Service Leadership Award program at Middlebury and continues to underwrite it today. Mr. Durkin is managing director and head of government banking and policy for Barclays Capital Inc.

From among the 54 nominees, six students were selected to receive Middlebury College Public Service Leadership Awards, a group of students was selected to receive the received the John M. McCardell Public Service Award, one student received the Bonnie McCardell Public Service Leadership Award, and one received the Dana Morosini Reeve '84 Memorial Public Service Award.

The Public Service Leadership Award Fund makes a $300 donation on behalf of each award recipient to a nonprofit organization designated by the student. In the 17-year history of the program, the fund has donated almost $33,000 to worthy causes on behalf of more than 500 public service award recipients.

The evening's keynote speaker was Matt Dunne, the manager of community affairs for Google and the former director of AmeriCorps VISTA, the national service program to fight poverty.

Dunne said public service of Middlebury students has improved the lives of people around the world, but he warned that "with today's rapid advances in communications, comes responsibility."  He spoke about the censorship of Google in China and declared that "freedom of communication is incredibly fragile" in the world today. He urged the students to use emerging forms of communication like Twitter and YouTube and digital photography for public good rather than harm.

This year's John M. McCardell Public Service Award was presented to the student volunteers at the Community at Charter House. Accepting the award on behalf of the more than 50 students who have been involved in the operation of the emergency shelter were Robin Curtis '10, Yuan Lim '12, Veronica Muoio '11, and Carrie Sparkes '10.

The Bonnie McCardell Public Service Award was presented to Alice Urban '12 in recognition of her work as a mentor and coordinator with the College's Community Friends organization, which matches area youngsters with Middlebury students for mentoring, friendship, and activities.

The Dana Morosini Reeve '84 Memorial Public Service Award went to Katherine G. Bass '10 as one of the founders and leaders of ¬°Juntos!, the two-year-old, campus-based outreach program that assists migrant workers in Addison County and their families.

The recipients of the Middlebury College Public Service Leadership Awards were:

Brent Allen '11 for improving the lives of homeless people by encouraging Middlebury students to visit the John Graham Shelter in Vergennes to prepare and serve a meal there every week.

Hannah Burnett '10 for advocating for action to end global health inequality through the Global Health Action Network, a student organization, and by serving in Rwanda with Partners In Health, an international provider of medical care.

Mikaela Lefrak '10 for her record of community engagement at Middlebury, in suburban Washington, and in Africa and Latin America, and as the student coordinator for the Volunteer Services Organization on campus.

Moriel Rothman '11 for his work with Hillel, the Religious Life Council, and the Middlebury chapter of J Street U, and his determination to raise awareness on campus about peace-building and social justice in the Middle East.

Carolyn Sparkes '10 for organizing student participation at the John Graham Shelter in Vergennes, and for volunteering with Breakthrough Collaborative, the national non-profit that increases educational opportunities for low-income students.

Laura Kerr Williams '10 for her work with Habitat for Humanity in the Middlebury area, New Mexico, North Carolina and Romania, and for inspiring others to join the Habitat for Humanity cause.

The Alliance for Civic Engagement (ACE) at Middlebury College estimates that more than 1,500 students engaged in community service projects or service-related initiatives during the 2009-2010 academic year. These students gave more than 47,000 hours of service during the academic year-roughly the equivalent of a 22-person workforce engaged in the needs of the community on a full-time, year-round basis.

In addition, more than 300 Middlebury College faculty and staff give about 25,000 hours of their volunteer time and effort annually. In the past year, almost $400,000 was raised by Middlebury-led initiatives on behalf of charitable organizations.

The call for nominations goes out to the Middlebury community in mid-winter to begin the selection process for the awards. Decisions are based on students' demonstrated dedication to a cause, level of help toward making a positive change for an individual or for the community, and initiative toward increasing the awareness and involvement of other students in public service. Each nomination is returned to the Middlebury College Alliance for Civic Engagement Office and reviewed by a committee of College students, faculty and staff.