The Fifth Annual Cougs Care Celebration and Recognition Event acknowledged students, faculty and community members for their public service at 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday in the CUB Junior Ballroom.
Washington Secretary of State and Cougar alumus Sam Reed made the keynote address, expressing delight at being back on campus.
“I’m kind of the Cougar-in-residence in the capitol building,” he said. “I’m proud to be a cougar, as so many of us are throughout the state and the world.”
Reed has been Washington’s Secretary of State since January 2001 and has toured the state’s colleges every spring to discuss the importance of student community involvement and voting.
Reed asked students to think about who they truly want to represent them in public office.
He said government and public policy play an important role in what happens in our community. Reed asked students to reach out to others on campus and get them to vote.
“In this political year, we have a remarkable year,” he said.
He added that it is especially important for people in higher education since these elections will play a key role in how much funding state colleges receive.
Several positions will open for the election in the state government, including governor, attorney general and secretary of state.
Reed ended his address with some words of advice for students in the audience.
He said he encourages students to take this community service ethic and carry it on into their adult life.
At the event, the Center for Civic Engagement (CCE) commended more than 60 students who completed at least 50 community service hours. They also recognized Amanda Chapman, Kyna Brewer, Max St. Brown, Sze Wah Tam, Jared Dean and Stephanie Chahan as 2011-2012 Service Star Recipients for their exemplary service and positive impact on the community.
The CCE awarded eight people for excellence in civic engagement this year. The Faculty Award went to Pauline Sameshima for her courses in arts integration, curriculum theory and cultural studies in the Department of Teaching and Learning.
Isaiah Adona and Chapman were both awarded the Undergraduate Student Award for the Pullman campus. Adona worked with the Michael-Ryan Pattison Foundation, with a national campaign to raise funds for prostate cancer research and with the WSU Green Bike Program for students. Chapman served as an academic mentor at Lincoln Middle School and is currently organizing a Rock the Vote campaign on campus.
“It’s definitely an honor ... I feel privileged,” Chapman said. “I transferred here halfway through the year and was in Sociology 102 ... which really helped me network. Leadership isn’t just one person ... you have to recognize the strengths and weaknesses of those you’re working with to meet a common goal.”
Blayne Amson, who was unable to attend, received the Undergraduate Student award for the WSU Online program. Amson advocates for the LGBTQ, female communities and the "differently-abled," and has most recently worked with the YWCA to help victims of domestic violence.
The Student Group Award went to Sigma Kappa Sorority for their 1,300 hours of community service this school year. Their work with Whitman Senior Living was highlighted because the girls provide companionship to and organize events for the residents.
R.E.A.C.H. Inc.’s Randy and Rhonda Kent accepted the Community Partner Award. Their Retired Equine and Care Habitat serves as a safe and healthy environment for abused and abandoned horses.
Lorena O’English, a WSU librarian who also serves on the Under the Big Tent Planning Committee and the CCE Advisory Council, received the Campus Partner Award. She also works with the League of Women Voters and helps students register to vote.
Finally, the CCE presented Christine Oakley with the Distinguished Service Award for her work with CCE planning committees, service learning conferences and students in her sociology classes. Oakley is currently completing two years as the chair of the CCE Advisory Council.
“I feel very honored,” Oakley said. “Very, very honored. My background was in public health before sociology, so I believe very strongly in community involvement.”
One of her classes assisted with the Green Bike program and she said she was excited to see that Adona had been recognized for his continued work with the program.
“Those are the special moments when you see that a student has taken from your class and is moving on,” she said.