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Professor James Calvin Davis (at the microphone) has encouraged public service leadership at Middlebury through his teaching, his mentorship, and his service to the field.

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Students Honored for Leadership in Volunteerism, Activism, and Advocacy

May 1, 2019

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. – Student leadership in public service took center stage at the 26th annual Public Service Leadership Awards dinner held on April 30 in the Atwater Dining Hall.

Middlebury President Laurie L. Patton, Director of Community Engagement Tiffany Nourse Sargent ’79, Professor James Calvin Davis, and WomenSafe Executive Director Kerri Duquette-Hoffman delivered remarks citing the exemplary volunteerism, activism, and advocacy demonstrated by students over the past 12 months.

The president reminded everyone that public service is in “complete alignment” with Middlebury’s mission to prepare students “to lead engaged, consequential, and creative lives, contribute to their communities, and address the world’s most challenging problems.”

As students, faculty, staff, and community members gathered for the occasion, President Patton also recognized the community partners who toil every day in the field and thanked them for their invaluable “collaboration and mentorship of our students and for the educational partnerships they support.”

Sargent, who has been a leading force for community engagement at Middlebury for more than three decades, said she is excited about the future of campus-community collaboration and educational partnerships because of the priorities set forth in President Patton’s Envisioning Middlebury framework for the future. “We look forward to the roles we can play in advancing this vision,” she said.

President Patton spoke at the dinner and said the PSLA event recognizes "those among us who are working to address some of the most challenging problems we face today." Click on photos to enlarge.

The professor of religion and founding academic director of the Privilege & Poverty Academic Cluster at Middlebury, James Davis, spoke about college as a place “to prepare for a life of responsible citizenship.” He continued, “A liberal arts education prepares us to make some part of the world a little better than it was before we got there. Each of you [nominated for an award tonight] has practiced the liberal arts in the work you have done with organizations in this community and beyond. You have made this part of the world a little better than it was before you got here.”

Duquette-Hoffman, as the director of the local agency dedicated to ending domestic and sexual violence, said after a Middlebury student volunteers at WomenSafe “it is our hope that they know these three things. First, how to listen deeply to others and value them as equals. Second, that we all must work together to create the change we need to see in the world. And third, that there is a team of folks cheering for them as they go out into the world.”

One of the driving forces behind the annual Public Service Leadership Awards, alumnus Patrick Durkin of the Class of 1979, was unable to attend the event but sent his remarks ahead so they could be read by President Patton. To the 51 students nominated in 2019, he said, “Don’t for a moment lose sight of the importance of what you have done and what your contributions will continue to do.

“For it is from uncountable acts of kindness, hard work, and at times courage, that sets in motion waves of positive actions that together shape the character of individuals, a college, a community, a nation, and the world,” Durkin affirmed

Dylan Montagu ’20, shown with Tiffany Sargent '79, received the award in honor of President Emeritus John M. McCardell Jr.

The John M. McCardell Jr. Public Service Leadership Award was presented to Dylan Montagu ’20 for serving as a nationally certified volunteer Emergency Medical Technician at the Middlebury Regional EMS. “Dylan’s commitment sets him apart from his peers,” said presenter Tiffany Sargent, as he devoted more than 1,000 hours on 12- and 24-hour shifts to his field training and passed the national certification exam. He also volunteers with the Middlebury Fire Department.

The Bonnie McCardell Public Service Award goes annually to a student who exemplifies outreach in youth and family services, literacy, and the special needs of young people. Presented this year by Kailee Brickner-McDonald, assistant director of community engagement, this year’s recipient Hal Juster ’19 “brought curiosity, keen attention, and joyfulness” to his relationship with an Addison County youngster through his participation with Community Friends. He also served on the Community Friends Board and was an “impactful,” three-year coordinator for the student organization.

The Dana Morosini ’84 Memorial Public Service Award was presented by Tiffany Sargent to Meg Fearey ’20 for her service and advocacy related to the fight against cancer. Fearey founded Impact New England, a network of college students dedicated to raise awareness against pediatric cancer, and started an Impact Middlebury chapter. And with the support of her field hockey team, she organized a “Unite in the Flight” game to represent the team’s dedication to the cause. Fearey is also a “big sister” mentor a local child living with leukemia.

In addition to the named awards, the College also presents a number of Public Service Leadership Awards recognizing students for their distinct commitment to and leadership in public service, and to encourage continued pursuits of their engagement well after graduation and throughout their lives. The 2019 recipients were:

Jocelyn Tenorio ’19 received a Public Service Leadership Award presented by Kristen Mullins, assistant director of the Center for Community Engagement.

Jocelyn Kelly Tenorio ’19 for her work on initiatives with multiple and diverse student organizations including Juntos, Distinguished Men of Color, Alianza Latina, Middlebury Alternative Break Program, and Community Friends – all organizations that share a focus on inclusion and social justice.

Luna Shen ’19.5 for her committed volunteerism with the Charter House Coalition, her leadership of the Charter House Student Organization, and her internship with the Privilege & Poverty Academic Cluster.

Taite Shomo ’20.5 and Grace Abigail Vedock ’20 who together have worked tirelessly to address sexual violence and harassment both on and off campus as educators and activists. They coordinated the conference “Beyond #MeToo: Global Responses to Sexual Violence in the Age of Reckoning.”

Lulu Zhou ’19 for striving toward an inclusive, supportive community through her service as the co-chair of the Juntos Activism Committee, president of the Middlebury Refugee Outreach Club, and a member of the United Way of Addison County's Community Impact Funding Team. She also helped organize a student-led workshop titled “Humanizing the Refugee Experience.”

Ariana Hernandez ’19 who demonstrated her leadership skills as a copresident of Middlebury Alternative Break Trips (or “MAlt”), as a MiddView trips intern for incoming students, and as a medical interpreter at the Open Door Clinic for Addison County residents. In all of her endeavors, Ariana has done the important work of recognizing her privilege in the communities she is a part of and for using the resources available to improve them.

Paola Meza ’19, who volunteered all four years at the Open Door Clinic, was nominated for a PSLA by a peer who wrote, “Paola’s curiosity and motivation, competence and professionalism have proven to be indispensable, not only for the dental program that she is currently coordinating, but for our organization as a whole, and for our migrant workers and patients with whom she identifies and shares life experience.”

Professor James Davis delivered remarks and received a surprise Honorary Public Service Leadership Award.

And in a surprise presentation, Tiffany Sargent extended an Honorary Public Service Leadership Award to Professor James Davis whom she considers “a revered colleague, admired friend, and deeply valued mentor.” Davis is deserving of the award, said Sargent, for his tenure as board chair of the national Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty; for helping to create the Vermont Educational Alliance on Poverty; and for his service to Middlebury College and the surrounding communities through the creation of the Privilege & Poverty Academic Cluster and his numerous contributions to the Center for Community Engagement and the Centers for Experiential Learning.

In keeping with the PSLA tradition, each of the student honorees received $300 from generous alumni to donate to a nonprofit of their choice.

– Photos by Teddy Anderson ’13.5