A group of many students standing in three rows and smiling in front of a green projector screen.

Above: The awardees of the 2024 Spartan Volunteer Service Award.

The MSU Center for Community Engaged Learning (CCEL) recently recognized a record number of students who logged over 100 hours of community service and engagement between November, 15, 2022, and November 14, 2023.

A woman with blonde hair, glasses, and a green blazer speaking into a microphone on a podium.The 6th annual Spartan Volunteer Service Awards (SVSA) Banquet took place on Jan. 19, 2024, as part of MSU’s Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Week. Attendees heard from Interim President Dr. Teresa Woodruff (pictured left), leadership in CCEL, and student awardees.

“It’s so important to recognize students when they do this kind of work,” said CCEL Assistant Director K.C. Keyton. “I’m so proud of each one of the students that is able to juggle personal time, school, maybe a job, and they obtain 100 hours. In today’s world that is a lot, and just for them to see that achievement makes me proud every year.”

The Spartan Volunteer Service Awards are sponsored by the Office of the President and the Center for Community Engaged Learning. This year’s 130 recipients represented the highest number since the award’s inception. According to CCEL, these students logged 23,628 total hours of community engagement for the year, representing a $751,370 financial equivalent. Additionally, this year’s SVSA awardees were from a diverse group of colleges and majors, ranging from elementary education, jazz, and Spanish to civil engineering, neuroscience, and human biology.

“The diversity of the award really speaks for itself,” Keyton said. “There’s a lot of diversity in the majors as well. It’s really cool to see that there’sA woman with medium blonde hair in a red dress speaking at a podium, with a man in a blue suit jacket and black pants standing beside her and laughing. students like this, that are interested and are making it a priority to do this kind of work in the community.”

Although volunteering was a popular way for students to engage with community, they could log hours for more than just direct service. “This year we have 15 engagement strategies that we believe lead to social change,” said Keyton (pictured right with CCEL Director Dr. Renee Brown). “This includes direct service (volunteering), but it also includes activities like research, fundraising, and being on the executive board of a registered student organization (RSO), fraternity/sorority, or club.”

Hady Omar (pictured below), who received the SVSA for the fourth consecutive year, was the featured student speaker. Omar, a fourth-year majoring in human biology and religious studies, shared that the majority of his community engagement was with the MSU Pediatric Clinic, an ongoing COVID-19 research project, and the Arab Cultural Society, an RSO on campus. “This opportunity has given me the experience and knowledge of what the medical field may look like as a practicing physician,” he said. “It’s one of the reasons why I know medicine is the field I want to go into.”A young man with curly black hair, glasses, and a red sweater speaking animatedly at a podium.

But his community engaged service meant more than simply career exploration, Omar said. “[This award] represents what we can strive to be, altruistic members of our communities. It shows the best parts of us, and it shows that amidst all the suffering in the world, compassion and hope will win.”

The Center for Community Engaged Learning offers a warm congratulations to all 2023 SVSA awardees and their families, and is looking forward to seeing the continued impact of the work that our students do with communities every day.