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MDC Hosts First Lady and Florida Campus Compact Awards Gala at the Freedom Tower

College and faculty win several awards for service-learning and community engagement projects
Miami Dade College President Eduardo J. Padron and United States First Lady Michelle Obama

The First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama and Miami Dade College President Dr. Eduardo J. Padrón at the the 2009 Florida Campus Compact Awards Gala and Luncheon on Thursday, Oct. 15, 2009.

Miami, October 16, 2009 - The First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama, greeted a packed audience at the Freedom Tower this past Thursday during the 2009 Florida Campus Compact Awards Gala and Luncheon hosted by Miami Dade College (MDC). Hundreds of dignitaries from across the state, college and university presidents, media, faculty, staff and students were on hand to listen to Mrs. Obama’s views on community service.

The awards ceremony recognized students, faculty and higher education institutions that have made outstanding contributions through service-learning and engaged scholarship projects within the past year.  

As the event’s honored guest, Mrs. Obama, delivered the keynote address and spoke with deep conviction of the importance of service. As the keynote speaker, Mrs. Obama expressed her appreciation for the work that colleges and universities are doing to make service-learning an integral part of education, especially in a time of decreasing resources and increasing demands.

"President Obama and I, we honor you, we celebrate you, and more than anything, we thank you for everything that you do to serve your communities and your nation, Mrs. Obama told the audience."

(Please click here to view Mrs. Obama's complete remarks).

She added that higher education is not just about producing good students, but good citizens who are engaged in their communities and the world around them. She expressed her hope that students will continue to use their degrees to give back to both their schools and communities, and to be caring and engaged service-learning partners; she also urged everyone to make volunteerism a part of their daily routine, recognizing that the best solutions come directly from the communities themselves.

Mrs. Obama was joined by special guests Senator Bob Graham, Congressman Allen Boyd of North Florida, and State University System of Florida Chancellor Frank Brogan. .

Following Mrs. Obama’s speech, the awards ceremony got under way where MDC was the recipient of several Florida Campus Compact awards, including the Engaged Campus of the Year Award for outstanding commitment to a culture of engagement in all aspects of our institution.

Other MDC faculty and programs were also recognized:

• The Miami Rescue Mission Clinic received the Campus-Community Partnership Award for producing measurable improvements in people’s lives while enhancing higher education in the process.

The Center for Community Involvement was recognized for its exemplary utilization of Florida Campus Compact's AmeriCorps VISTA program.

Dr. Lauren Gach, associate professor in the School of Education, won the Service-Learning Faculty Award in the state college sector. This award recognizes faculty members who have substantially contributed to the integration of service-learning into the curriculum.

“This is a tremendous honor and speaks to the dedication of our faculty, staff and students,” said MDC president Dr. Eduardo J. Padrón.

The proceeds from the sold-out gala will benefit Florida Campus Compact, an organization of more than 50 Florida colleges and universities committed to encouraging students' participation in public and community service.

Media-only contacts:
Juan Mendieta, 305-237-7611,, MDC communications director
Tarnell Carroll, 305-237-3359,, media specialist
Sue Arrowsmith, 305-237-3710,, media specialist

Miami Dade College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award associate and baccalaureate degrees.
Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the accreditation of Miami Dade College.
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