Award-winning Faculty, Students, and Community Partners
2011 Vermont Campus Compact Awards
Award for Excellence in Community-Based Teaching
Katherine Kirby, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Philosophy and Global Studies
Professor Katherine Kirby teaches a 300-level course entitled "Otherness and Marginalization: Levinas and the Alienated." This course challenges students to consider the ethical theories of philosopher Emmanuel Levinas, and more particularly, it examines the effects of marginalization on individuals based on their "otherness." This includes broad categories such as the poor, the ill, and the elderly. Since this is a Global Studies course, it focuses on ways the developing world is often marginalized by more developed countries as well. Professor Kirby also teaches an extension course that takes place in an international context – in Guyana, South America – where students work with individuals at Palms Geriatric Institution, St. John Bosco Boys' Orphanage, and the Mahaica Leprosy Hospital. The experiential service components of her classes are rigorously integrated into the syllabus in multiple ways and used as a constant aid to learning the complex and often hard-to-grasp philosophical concepts of the class. These local and international experiences are transformative for students, and Professor Kirby helps them recognize the universality of suffering inherent in marginalized populations here and abroad. Professor Kirby also integrates teaching, scholarship and outreach. She has published, "Encountering and Understanding Suffering: The Need for Service Learning in Ethical Education" in Teaching Philosophy, and often shares her experience and expertise in community engaged learning by participating on faculty panels, in workshops, and on committees.
Madeleine M. Kunin Public Service Award
Rachael Sparks '11, Saint Michael's College
Rachael is engaged in a variety of activities, but it is her advocacy for at-risk individuals that perhaps defines her best. She commits fully to whatever she does, and she offers an outstanding example of public service in our local and global communities. Rachael is the Director of Best Buddies and has been with the organization since 2007. This group pairs college students with people with intellectual disabilities. She has also been involved with the Little Brother/Little Sister Mentoring Program since 2007, currently mentoring a nine year old girl from Winooski. Rachael has helped rebuild houses in Kentucky, has served in Kolkata, India, is an intern in the Women's Rape Crisis Center, and has been a retreat leader for Campus Ministry. She is a representative of the Student Association and active in school programs. The list goes on, but the essential point is that Rachael is committed to "the betterment of the human condition." She is a change agent; her drive to do more and her desire to learn and understand the challenges and complexities of injustice will create a force that will change the world in a most profound way. Rachael's dedication, work ethic, passion, and integrity make the world a better place.
Commitment to Service and Engagement Award
Katherine Hackett '11, Saint Michael's College
Katherine is an outstanding student leader, serving the Saint Michael's collegiate community and our community at large. As a leader with the SMC Best Buddies program, Katherine has worked to pair 30 college students with people from our community with cognitive and physical disabilities.
She recruits, manages, and educates the College Buddies, and she has been active in the program for four years. Katherine has also raised $3500 in support of Vermont Special Olympics, an organization that involves many of the people in Best Buddies. This year Katherine single-handedly recruited more than 45 people to take part in the Penguin Plunge and also recruited some 20 volunteers for the event. Katherine has participated in SMC's Extended Service program, working in soup kitchens, shelters, and with Habitat for Humanity in Hartford, CT and New Orleans. This year she will travel to the Dominican Republic to continue that work. In addition to her service outside the College, Katherine is active in the Student Government, the Admissions Office, Campus Ministry, and College Orientation. She assisted in the coordination of Pre-Orientation Weekends with the Student Life Office as well. Katherine has participated on many panels and represented SMC students on numerous committees, most recently speaking at the 2010 Academic Convocation. Katherine has demonstrated an extraordinary willingness to give of herself, and her steadfast commitment to community service has made a real difference in people's lives.
Engaged Community Partner Award - Underground Teen Center at the O'Brien Community Center
Engaged Community Partner Award
The Underground Teen Center is a program run by the Winooski Recreation & Community Wellness Department, (WRCW). The Teen Center promotes lifelong wellness by developing high quality, affordable programs for the public and providing facilities and open spaces for public use. The Center serves about 100 youth in the area, many from low-income families. The Teen Center offers a safe, supervised, and substance free environment for local high school aged youth outside of school hours. In spring 2010, the Teen Center partnered with an upper level anthropology class at Saint Michael's entitled "Community-Based Research." During the semester, the fifteen students in the class collaborated with UTC staff to implement a participatory needs assessment. The students completed over 300 hours of service at UTC, conducted 33 regular interviews completed 9 life history interviews, and filled out over 50 surveys with teens. The class then analyzed the results with UTC staff. A new class is now building on this earlier work, addressing a specific need articulated by the program's supervisors, namely to be more gender inclusive and promote the wider involvement of girls while continuing to provide mentorship to the teens. Two members of the original class created a weekly program, Teen Scene, that brings 4-6 SMC students to the center every Friday.