Recognition for Advancing Georgetown's Mission
August 2, 2009 – Chris Burke (C’97) knows passion for service when he sees it. And as a member of the selection committee for the Lena Landegger Community Service Awards, he sees it in abundance.
“The students blow me away each year with how involved they are,” says Burke, now the assistant U.S. attorney for the district of Delaware. He was dedicated to service during his years at Georgetown. “It makes you feel like a student again to see them doing this significant work.”
Since 1995, the Landegger Awards annually awards 20 Georgetown students $2,500 for outstanding community service efforts. Jeanne Lord, associate vice president of student affairs, says 80-100 applicants seek Landegger awards each year. Submissions are evaluated on how the service done by students reflects Georgetown’s mission and Jesuit identity.
“The depth of service – doing a few things well rather than dabbling in many things – is a primary factor,” says Lord, who chairs the selection committee. “It’s wonderful to be at meetings and hear committee members eagerly cite the works of the students they’ve read about.”
Service an Integral Part of Georgetown Experience
Landegger winner Maura Garven (C’09) says her service work has been “integral to my experience at Georgetown. I would never have known so many of my friends if it weren’t for the opportunities Georgetown offered me to serve and learn,” she says.
Garven worked extensively with the After School Kids (ASK) program to tutor and mentor Washington, D.C.-area youth who have appeared in juvenile courts. This year, 11 Georgetown students, with help from university staff, rebuilt ASK in the absence of a full-time director.
“It was incredibly powerful to feel like we – these friends I’d known for so much of my time at Georgetown – could do something so meaningful together,” Garven says.
This year saw the first Landegger recipient from the School of Foreign Service-Qatar campus in Doha. Aakash Jayaprakash (SFS’11) works in Qatar with immigrants, who outnumber the native population.
Jayaprakash says many of the immigrants working hard labor and other jobs live in substandard conditions. In interviews with the immigrants and their families, Jayaprakash discovered that many workers who went to Doha in search of financial opportunity only end up borrowing more money in order to pay off previous loans.
Jayaprakash won an Undergraduate Research Experience Program grant to work with migrant workers and begin a financial literacy program for them.
“I had always wanted to do something about the migrant labor issue, and Georgetown gave me the opportunity to do so,” he says. “The courses, the experiences and conversations I've had have given me a lot of tools for how to think and work for the good.”
Leaving Behind Significant Work
Burke says the accomplishments of award winners now are advanced beyond his time on campus. The alumnus encourages students to work toward something that will outlast them.
“When they make that effort, and get alumni or the administration involved,” he says, “then an idea or a conversation they have in the middle of the night in their dorm room can turn into something that lasts for decades.”