As part of the 2020–21 Student Awards, the Center for Civic Engagement recognized both an individual student and a student organization for excellence in community engagement. These awards recognize community-engaged work that emphasizes partnership with the community and demonstrates a reflection on both student learning and community impact.
Al Vos Excellence in Community Engagement:
Kurant is a junior from Jamaica, N.Y., with an individualized major in social systems science. During his freshman year he was a part of the Center for Civic Engagement’s LEAD (Leaders in Engagement, Advocacy and Democracy) Program and the Emerging Leaders Program. These programs motivated Kurant to become the vice president of service for the Hinman Community College Council. In this role Kurant worked with three organizations this year — North of Main (NoMa), the Lee Barta Community Center and the Binghamton Rescue Mission. He completed two community service projects working with these organizations. He conducted a Thanksgiving Pen Pals program after learning that isolation among the elderly was an issue in the NoMa community during the pandemic. This project helped senior citizens and students communicate with one another to help feel less alone. He also organized a donation of almost $400 worth of toys to the Lee Barta Community Center from the Hinman College Council after learning that many children in that community did not have any. Kurant also helped set up a virtual pop-up thrift shop this semester to raise clothing funds for the Rescue Mission, an organization fighting homelessness. Kurant believes that his help within the community will prepare him to apply for a Masters of Public Policy when he finishes his degree and help him combat the social issues that he sees present in today’s society.
Excellence in Community Engagement: Student Organization category winner
American Pharmacists Association Academy of Student Pharmacists (APhA-ASP)
APhA-ASP, with over 80 active members, has continued to engage the community, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. The mission of APhA-ASP is to be the collective voice of student pharmacists, to provide opportunities for professional growth, and to actively promote the future of pharmacy while addressing patient care needs and promoting optimal medication use to improve health, wellness and quality of life.
This semester, the group hosted and ran an vaccination clinic in collaboration with The Medicine Shoppe. Originally, the clinic was supposed to be a one-time event, however, the positive feedback from the community caused them to continue providing vaccinations every week.
In addition to the vaccination clinic, the APhA-ASP partnered with the Tioga County Allies in Substance Abuse Prevention to raise awareness of substance use disorders. The members helped distribute black balloons to local businesses to hang on their buildings, commemorating those who have lost their lives to substance abuse. Their mission is to educate and rebuild the community in the face of the opioid epidemic.
The APhA-ASP serves as an excellent example of adapting to current circumstances and continuing to make a difference in the community. They truly deserve the recognition that this award brings.
Blume is a junior from Scarsdale, N.Y., majoring in psychology and minoring in education. Blume has made it a priority to engage with the local community and work to help children and adolescents with special needs. Since her first year at the University, she has participated in Binghamton Buddies, acting a mentor for children with intensive social, emotional and behavioral needs. This experience led her to volunteer at Gigi’s Playhouse last fall. Gigi’s Playhouse is a non-profit organization that holds events and educational programs for individuals with Down Syndrome. She has helped adolescents with various activities, specifically within programs called Gigi’s Cooking and Gigi’s Baking. This semester, Blume has taken on a new role as a classroom assistant at Maine Memorial Elementary School. Through all of her work, she has been able to give back to the community and gain experience that will help with her future career of becoming an educator.
Brennan is a senior from Sayville, N.Y., majoring in biological sciences. Brennan is a volunteer EMT with the Union Volunteer Emergency Squad in Endwell, N.Y. She also started volunteering at the First Presbyterian Church by helping them set up their soup kitchen. During this time, Brennan became interested in the Food Recovery Network, an organization that takes the leftover food from campus dining halls, packages it and transports it to local community meal sites. She was inspired by their mission and became co-president of the Food Recovery Network. After getting the organization approved for Student Association chartership, Brennan and her peers donated hundreds of pounds of food to local community meal sites and food pantries. Currently, Brennan is a patient care technician at Our Lady of Lourdes in their emergency department. She is also applying to schools to become a physician assistant and is driven to continue helping others.
Gourgue is a junior from Baldwin, N.Y., with an individualized major consisting of English, cinema, sociology and Africana studies. Gourgue’s major is called “Artistry through an Intersectional Lens,” and is focused on taking courses centered around Black art, history and thought. Currently, she is the vice president of the Black Student Union, where she helps create programming for students of color and provides a space for comfort, higher learning and advocacy. She was also an orientation advisor, where she focused on mentoring incoming Black students. In Feb. 2020, Gourgue curated her own art gallery called Black Museum. The gallery was dedicated solely to the artistry of nearly 50 different Black and Brown students on campus. After her work advocating for the Black members of the Binghamton community, Gourgue intends to pursue research so she can continue to acknowledge and celebrate the artistry of Black youth. She also wants to use her voice to influence social justice with the intent of fostering community organizations that enlighten and uphold Black youth through art and education.
Panpinyo is a junior from Brooklyn, N.Y., majoring in industrial and systems engineering. He has been a part of the Asian Student Union for all three of his years at Binghamton, starting as an intern and working his way up to presidency. After seeing a need for a unified voice within the Asian community, he established the Binghamton Pan Asian Leaders Council. This year, amongst the instances of Asian hate that have spread across the country, Panpinyo gathered the leaders from the Asian student body to plan the “Stop Asian Hate Rally.” The rally was a huge success, with hundreds of students showing their support, both those who are a part of the Asian community and others. In the future, Panpinyo wants to work for an airport, optimizing the flow of people. In any career or community he chooses to be a part of, he knows that he will continue his activism, especially advocating for the Asian community.