Rather than using their free time to watch movies or spend time with friends or family, these West Virginia University students mentored children, prepared meals, cleaned up parks and provided a variety of other services.

On Thursday, Feb. 11, 276 WVU students will be recognized for completing a total of more than 51,000 hours of community service. These students will be recognized with a President’s Volunteer Service Award at the annual ceremony, held at 7 p.m. in the Okey Patteson Auditorium at WVU’s Health Sciences Center.

The honorees volunteered at places such as Christian Help, Big Brothers Big Sisters, American Cancer Society, law clinics, Milan Puskar Health Right and numerous other charitable organizations.

Provost Michele Wheatly will join WVU’s Center for Civic Engagement Director Kim Colebank in honoring the recipients.

“These students are engaged in our community, donating their time, energy and talent to helping others,” Colebank said. “We are so very proud of them, and feel privileged to be able to thank them with this award.”

During the ceremony, the students will be recognized with a pin, certificate and letter signed by President Barack Obama. The award was established by former President George W. Bush in 2003.

WVU students who completed more than 100 hours of volunteer work or service-learning courses in 2009 could be nominated for the award.

Other WVU community members being recognized with Excellence in Service Learning Awards are: Interim Chief of Staff Jay Cole, Associate Professor of Accounting Presha Neidermeyer and Volunteer Coordinator at Caritas House Jon Sonnenday.

Cole’s personal and professional commitment to civic engagement and student service initiatives dates back two decades. In his current role as interim chief of staff, Cole continually advocates the importance of students being civically engaged throughout their academic careers, Colebank said.

“His recognition that students learn best when being challenged to solve daily community problems makes him a passionate champion of civic engagement,” she added.

Neidermeyer provides students opportunities to make connections outside the classroom setting by including service learning in her accounting courses. Her belief in service learning pedagogy is evident in her strong commitment to provide meaningful experiences to her students, Colebank said.

“By opening the skills and talents of her students to the community, Neidermeyer makes connections that are beneficial to all involved,” she added.

Understanding the benefit of hands on learning, Sonnenday is the Center for Civic Engagement’s official community partner. He works hand-in-hand with WVU’s students to get them into the community.

“He offers WVU students experiences that not only enhance academic learning, but teach invaluable life lessons. He works hard to provide guidance and leadership in project building to assist WVU students in gaining positive service opportunities,” Colebank said.

For more information on volunteer opportunities, visit the Center for Civic Engagement’s Web site at http://cce.wvu.edu .



CONTACT: Brett White, Center for Civic Engagement
304-293-8761 ext.33481, Brett.White@mail.wvu.edu