MSU’s Center for Service-Learning and Civic Engagement recently took the initiative to create its own Spartan Volunteer Service Award, after realizing international students were excluded from being able to receive the President’s Volunteer Service Award through the U.S.
For the past three years the center has been certified to distribute the presidential award to citizens or students, on behalf of the President of the U.S., for their dedicated volunteer services – but as the fine writing states on the PVSA website, the award is only for citizens.
According to Program Director Kristopher Keyton, many international students have also committed their time to community service, wanting to apply for the award, but unfortunately they weren’t able to have a platform until now.
“We decided just to come up with our own so we could make our own rules and have it be inclusive to the entire Michigan State campus,” Keyton said.
The award will be presented on behalf of MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon and gives recognition to students who’ve completed 100 or more hours of community service between Nov. 1, 2016 and Nov. 1, 2017.
Keyton said their office has partnered with Simon for her stamped approval, and she agrees with giving committed students this platform.
“We want to celebrate their work in the community and their service work. We want them to be able to be proud of that and then recognize them at the same time,” Keyton said.
Students who have applied and been accepted for the award – based on eligibility – will be recognized by Simon and acknowledged at the annual MLK Endowed Scholarship Dinner on Jan. 15, 2018.
Simon described the recipients of the award as capturing the MSU core values of connectivity, she said in a statement.
“Connectivity means that we are forward-looking, anticipating tomorrow’s issues while addressing the issues of today,” Simon said. “It means a willingness to take responsibility for our role in our community, to work hard and to fulfill our commitments. Finally, it means performing our work in the spirit of service.”
MSU international studies in social science sophomore Jade Greear said she is interested in looking into the requirements for the award and if she qualifies, she definitely plans to apply.
Greear has volunteered for the majority of her life and this past summer alone, she has spent 210 hours volunteering with the Homeless Outreach Project.
“I started probably in kindergarten," Greear said. "My mom’s really big on giving back to other people, she always says like ‘it’s the beauty on the inside that matters, not the outside.' ... It teaches you so much. When you get out and volunteer, you meet so many different people from all different walks of life and you kind of realize connectedness among people.”
Greear said this award will make students feel prouder of their accomplishment and it shows that they aren’t going unnoticed.
Keyton said there are about 50 completed applications so far and this could be huge benefit to resumes in the long run.
“There’s been a lot of student organizations, a lot of individuals that are really becoming more and more interested I think every year, in service work and giving back to the community,” he said.
Keyton said they try to reach out to students and teach them that there is a need for service in their own communities and it’s important to be aware of that while they are at MSU.
“We always talk about, here, you having deep disciplinary knowledge … but really to understand, you know we have a lot going on in this world today that we live in and being able to be more educated about what is going on in your community … it’s very important,” he said. “It’s a win-win for everybody.”
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