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Students were honored for their public service efforts at a special event on April 11

Middlebury College celebrates 13th annual Public Service Leadership Awards

April 14, 2006

May received the first Dana Morosini Reeve '84 Memorial Public Service Award.

MIDDLEBURY, Vt.-At Middlebury College's 13th annual Public Service Leadership Award dinner held on Tuesday, April 11, dozens of students received achievement certificates for volunteerism in the local community. Of the 39 students nominated by service agencies and individuals in Addison County for their volunteer efforts, nine garnered special recognition, each receiving one of four Middlebury College awards for public service: the Public Service Leadership Award, the John M. McCardell, Jr. Award for Public Service, the Bonnie McCardell Award for Public Service, or the newly-created Dana Morosini Reeve '84

Erica received the John M. McCardell Award for Public Service.

Memorial Public Service Award.

The memorial award was established last month in honor of Dana Reeve, and is given to a student who exemplifies Reeve's spirit and determination while she cared for her husband, actor Christopher Reeve, and worked as an advocate, through the Christopher Reeve Foundation, for all those with spinal cord injuries.  Dana Reeve, who died on March 6 of this year, was a member of the Middlebury College class of 1984.

Jess received the Bonnie McCardell Award in Public Service.

The awards given in honor of the McCardells were established two years ago.  The John M. McCardell award is given to a student for efforts that bring Middlebury, both college and town, closer together for a public benefit.  The Bonnie McCardell award is given to a student for outreach in the areas of youth and family services, literacy, and special needs of young people during the middle and early high school years.

The Public Service Leadership Awards are given to those students who have contributed in a significant and ongoing way to the college community's level of awareness and involvement in public and social affairs.

A $300 donation will be made by the college on behalf of each award recipient to a nonprofit organization designated by the student. Those agencies and organizations selected by the students for donations are: the World Camp for Kids; the Campus Climate Challenge; the Champlain Valley Agency on Aging; the Middlebury Area Land

Carrie Williams, Middlebury class of 2000, was the keynote speaker.

Trust; the Parent/Child Center; the Addison County Community Action Group; People of Addison County Together (PACT); the Addison County Special Olympics Vermont; and the Middlebury College "Slow the Plow" organic garden. In its 13-year history, more than $21,000 has been donated by the college on behalf of more than 350 public service award recipients.  A total of $2,700 will be donated this year.

At the dinner, Dean of the College Timothy Spears told honorees that the public service aspect of student life ranks among the most noteworthy of achievements. "This evening, we shine the spotlight on you," said Spears. "You carry on the important tradition of those student volunteers who have gone before you, a tradition that continues to be one of the most respected on this campus."

It is estimated that 1,200 of the college's students have been engaged in community service projects or service-related initiatives this year. These students offer more than 25,000
hours of service per academic year - roughly the equivalent of a dozen people working for the needs of the community full-time, year-round. More than 300 Middlebury College faculty and staff give another 25,000 hours of their volunteer time and effort annually. Last year, more than $310,000 was raised by Middlebury-led initiatives on behalf of charitable organizations.

The evening's keynote speaker was University of Vermont's associate director of Community/University Partnerships and Service Carrie Williams, a member of the Middlebury College class of 2000. Williams, who herself received a Middlebury College Public Service Leadership Award in her senior year at the school, spoke of the students' experiences as puzzle pieces contributing to their career decisions, and encouraged them to be steadfast in their beliefs. "Idealism is not a weakness," she said. "I've learned that, to feel satisfied, my job needs to align with the way I want to live my life, and the values that I hold dear."

College senior Gillian May Boeve was awarded the first annual Dana Morosini Reeve '84 Memorial Public Service Award. Boeve was recognized for her educational outreach and activism pertaining to the biodiesel-fueled Project Bio Bus and Middlebury College's Sunday Night Group, an ad hoc student group concerned with global climate change and other environmental issues.

Senior Erica Goodman received the John M. McCardell, Jr. Award for Public Service for her leadership roles in the Middlebury College Volunteer Service Organization and the Middlebury Area Land Trust, and in the creation of a Vermont registry for the National Marrow Donor Program. College junior Jessica Cox received the Middlebury College Bonnie McCardell Award for Public Service for her volunteerism with the Middlebury College Community Friends program, the Addison County Parent/Child Center, Middle Ground Theater, and her participation in numerous tutoring and mentoring efforts.

The six Middlebury College Public Service Leadership Award recipients were: college seniors Ashley Calkins for volunteerism with Addison County Special Olympics Vermont and Middlebury College's Cook Commons Community Service Committee, and for serving as a Japanese Language Mentor at Mary Hogan School; Thomas Hand for his volunteerism and leadership with Project Bio Bus, Middlebury College's Sunday Night Group, and an energy-efficient light bulb campaign called the "Manchester Challenge"; and Mary Mendoza Texas, for her volunteerism with the Middlebury College Volunteer Service Organization and Service Council; college junior Katherine Hawkins for her work with the Champlain Valley Agency on Aging and the Vergennes Area Rescue Squad; and college sophomores Emily Peterson for her service with Middlebury College's "Slow the Plow" Organic Garden, disaster relief in New Orleans, and volunteer efforts on Middlebury College's Katrina Relief Coalition; and Ashley Valle for her service with Vermont Campus Compact, the Vermont Campaign to End Childhood Hunger, and the Vermont Fundraising and Service Network.

The college's public service leadership awards were initiated in 1993 by Patrick Durkin, a 1979 Middlebury graduate who continues to underwrite the award program. Durkin traveled to
Vermont to attend the Tuesday award dinner and to congratulate the students.

Each year in February or March, the call for nominations goes out to the community 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.

All photos by Trent Campbell