MDC Students Engaged in Community Service Honored at President's Service Awards Ceremony
Miami, June 6, 2008 -
Marie Laurence Jean grew up in Haiti, one of the poorest nations in the world. Inspired by a family of health care professionals, she felt a calling to help others. Nearly 5,000 community service hours later, Jean found herself stepping up to the Lehman Theatre stage at Miami Dade College’s (MDC) North Campus to accept one of two lifetime achievement awards presented at the Second Annual President's Volunteer Service Awards Ceremony on June 5.
“My family and I have always been very involved in community service,” said Jean, who loves spending time with her 86-year-old grandmother. “On a very large scale, everyone in my family has inspired me.”
This May, the 26-year-old earned an Associate in Arts degree in nursing from MDC. She will pursue a bachelor’s degree in nursing at the college’s Medical Center Campus starting in the fall. Part of her service learning work included helping to promote and teach Haitian culture through the Haitian American Youth Organization (HAYO), fundraising and organizing events for the American Cancer Society and clinical work with elderly in home health centers, among others.
This year’s award ceremony, hosted by the college’s Center for Community Involvement and the Office of Student Life (college-wide), honored more than 120 MDC students who completed a minimum of 100 service hours and student clubs and organizations that have completed a minimum of 200 hours.
Dr. Joe Greer, who is nationally known for his work with the homeless and underserved populations, addressed the students about the importance of service and civic engagement.
“You exemplify something very, very important,” Dr. Greer said. “You exemplify what this great nation is about.”
Lifetime achievement awards are reserved for individuals who have completed more than 4,000 hours of community service. Cheryl Séjour, who has worked with dozens of national and international organizations for the past 17 years, has surpassed that number considerably.
Fourteen years ago, the Canadian-born Séjour sold everything and drove across the country with her husband and three kids to establish the Gateway Foursquare Church in North Miami. She is working on a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education at the North Campus.
“Community service is something that was just put in my heart,” Séjour, 52, said.
Through the church, she organizes Reaching Our Community (ROC) events in Miami’s inner city neighborhoods, helping to provide free groceries and health screenings, as well as fun and safe activities for children and teens. She also established a Little Kid’s Club from her home and performs puppets shows at local elementary schools.
The President's Volunteer Service Award Ceremony, the largest in the state and one of the largest in the nation, is part of the federal government’s efforts to encourage youth civic engagement. At MDC, more than 5,000 students a year participate in academic service-learning and thousands more serve the community through their involvement in student clubs and organizations.
Juan Mendieta, 305-237-7611, firstname.lastname@example.org, MDC communications director
Sue Arrowsmith, 305-237-3710, email@example.com, media specialist