Senior Nominated for National Community Service Award

Senior Keegan Tierney of Starksboro, VT was recently nominated by University of Vermont President Edwin Colodny for the 2002 Howard R. Swearer Student Humanitarian Award. The national award is granted to a student who succeeds in community service and volunteerism. “Keegan embodies the significance and the spirit of the award, and I cannot think of another student more deserving of the honor,” Colodny wrote in his letter of nomination. “He has represented our university well on the local, state and national stages as a model student-active, engaged and caring.” The award, sponsored by the Campus Compact, is given to only five students in the country. Only one student can be nominated from each university or college. “I feel like I just got lucky,” Tierney said, regarding his nomination. “There are so many people in VIA and the University that do as much or more than I do,” he said. Since sophomore year, Tierney has participated in UVM’s Alternative Spring Break. He co-directed the organization for the next two years, and won the President’s Award for Outstanding Student Organization in 2000. Then, in the summer of 2000, Tierney went to Washington, D.C. for the Breakaway summer training institute for alternative break student leaders. In 2001, Tierney led UVM’s TREK program, a community service event for first-year students to repair the Long Trail hiking trails. This fall, following Sept. 11, Tierney helped organize an Alternative Winter Break in New York. He worked with Ground Zero Food Services to serve meals to rescue workers. “It was an amazing experience to go to New York. The whole attitude of the city was just amazing,” he said. “There were people working 12 hour shifts five days a week. I couldn’t believe it.” With school, work and social obligations, fitting in large-scale projects like Alternative Winter Break into his schedule is a difficult task. “It took some time to learn how to balance everything,” Tierney said. “At one point, community service became a number one priority for me because I enjoyed it so much.” After graduation, Tierney hopes to join Americorps VISTA to incorporate his wildlife biology major, or work for another non-profit organization.