Porter honored for service trip program work

  • Kudos for PorterMelody Porter, associate director of William & Mary's Office of Community Engagement and Scholarship, was recently named Break Away's Staff Person of the Year for her work on the College's alternative breaks service trip program.

    Photo by Erin Zagursky

    Kudos for Porter
  • Kudos to PorterPorter is pictured here (far right) with a group of students that went to Philly to learn about and work on labor issues in March 2009.

    Courtesy photo

    Kudos to Porter
  • Kudos to PorterPorter is pictured here (second from the right) with a group of students who helped out with Lynchburg Grows in Lynchburg, Va., in March 2010. The group worked on an urban farm, cleared out several greenhouses and helped with planting.

    Courtesy photo

    Kudos to Porter
  • Kudos for PorterPorter poses for a photo with Walker Somerville in Honduras in January 2010. Somerville is an alumnus who now works full-time for Students Helping Honduras, which co-founded by a William & Mary alumna.

    Courtesy photo

    Kudos for Porter
Melody Porter, associate director of William & Mary's Office of Community Engagement and Scholarship, was recently named Break Away's Staff Person of the Year for her work on the College's alternative breaks service trip program.

The honor, which was given as part of Break Away's 2010 National Alternative Break Awards, is presented to college or university professional staff member "who works to engage student leaders in building high-quality alternative break programs."

"I'm honestly moved and humbled that our students and staff at William & Mary saw fit to nominate me, and that an organization as excellent as Break Away would choose to recognize me with the award," Porter said.

Break Away is a nonprofit organization that helps campuses and communities promote "quality alternative break programs that inspire lifelong active citizenship."

"Melody has not been in her position long at William & Mary, but is having a clear and profound effect on the students she is working with, the peers she works for, the greater campus community, and the national alternative break movement," said Jill Piacitelli, Break Away's Executive Director. "She digs at the foundations of what she is working to build - through real listening, intentional adoption of best practices, and learning through trying and innovating. She is one of the real stand outs in the alternative break world right now - many eyes are upon her and the work she's engaged in."

William & Mary's uses Break Away's model for training student leaders and structuring services trips "with a focus on building active citizens," said Porter.

"We believe that, as Break Away advocates, infusing issue-based education, reflection, strong direct service, and reorientation into break trips can make a short-term experience impact students and communities in meaningful, life-long ways."

Porter oversees William & Mary's alternative breaks program, "Branch Out," which includes national, regional and international trips.

 "A significant part of my work with the OCES is to lead our Branch Out program, and we have done some exciting things with the program this year," said Porter.

According to her nomination package, Porter was instrumental in reorganizing campus service trips into one program, Branch Out. She also instituted a new funding policy for the trips, wrote and designed a workbook on the key components of alternative breaks, participated in five service trips in 2009-10, served an advocate and expert in issue education on campus, and worked with student leaders to build the program's effectiveness.

Drew Stelljes, director of community engagement  for OCES, said that Porter came to William & Mary with "a proven record of achievement in community partnering."

"Her intellect and intuition, organization and passion, and her orientation toward a more just community make an incredibly effective advisor, teacher and change agent," he said.

Porter said her work with Branch Out this year "has been infused with energy, meaning, challenge and so much possibility -- in many ways because of the excellent student leadership I've been blessed to work with and know as fine, passionate people.

"It is effective and really fun to work for social justice and build active citizens through alternative breaks."