William & Mary is known for its culture of service both in local communities and around the world. The new members of the Class of 2018 will see first-hand the far-reaching effects the William & Mary community can have when Brianna Buch ’15 and Assistant Dean of Students Ben Boone ’07, M.Ed. ’09 receive the President’s Award for Service to the Community during Opening Convocation today.
A joint effort of the President’s Office and the Office of Community Engagement (OCE), the President’s Award recognizes one student and one faculty or staff member annually for making a significant and measurable impact on the community. The award emphasizes the quality of service primarily, with quantity of service a secondary consideration. In addition, the award includes a $500 prize donated to a service organization of each recipients’ choice in that person’s name.
“I am thrilled, honored and humbled to receive this award. Through my work in the community, I've learned that nothing is done through one individual but rather a small group of thoughtful, committed people,” Buch said. “I've been fortunate to work with many brilliant, determined individuals and I want to ensure those people are honored through this award as well. This moment to me is the celebration of what we've accomplished together.”
Buch’s service experiences have defined her time at William & Mary. A Sharpe Community Scholar, Buch co-lead Student Partnership for International Medical Aid and oversaw a travelling medical clinic as well as the construction of a public toilet complex during several trips to Ghana.
Not content to affect change across the world, Buch spearheaded the William & Mary Bike Initiative on campus, a cross-campus collaboration among the entire College community to promote sustainable transportation on campus. As a result, new bike-friendly installations will appear around William & Mary this year, including four fix-it stations, covered bike racks, and the creation of a cycling class in the kinesiology department.
During her senior year, Buch plans to found an organization called AskNot, a college division of the Franklin Project, which she hopes will advance the belief that all people, regardless of where they lie in the career or skills continuum or geographically across America, would benefit from participating in a year of service. She will be speaking about this new initiative at the Virginia Volunteerism as Service Conference later this fall.
To pass on her spirit of service to those following her, Buch mentors freshman Sharpe Scholars as a Sharpe teaching fellow, leading a seminar on civic engagement in higher education and helping them develop their own service projects around Williamsburg.
As the staff President’s Award recipient, Boone has combined his roles as a staff member, doctoral student and alumnus in his contributions to VISEDAL’s service work. VISEDAL—an acronym constructed from the three Spanish words visteme, edúcame, and aliméntame, or “clothe me,” “educate me,” and “feed me”—is a non-profit organization that uses education, leadership training, and mentorship to empower children and young adults in Nicaragua to become leaders and achieve success.
VISEDAL, founded by Dylan Waugh ’07, is an organization deeply rooted in the William & Mary community, with over a dozen alumni serving as volunteers, board members, or sponsors. Moreover, Boone has promoted a William & Mary internship with VISEDAL in Managua, the Nicaraguan capital. Taylor Stephens ’14 was the inaugural intern, and he later wrote an honors thesis based on his experiences working with Boone and VISEDAL. Jessica Merek ’14 followed suit and spent this summer working in Managua with VISEDAL.
As Boone engages with alumni through service in Managua, he also takes advantage of the opportunity to serve local alumni in Williamsburg as the chapter president. Through both VISEDAL and the Williamsburg Alumni Chapter, Boone enjoys making connections through shared experiences at the College and encouraging others to reach out and engage in the world around them.