As an ambassador of service at Centre College, Hannah Gibbs ’19 was recently awarded the Gulf-South Summit (GSS) Award for Outstanding Student Contributions to Service-Learning, a $1,000 cash prize given to one undergraduate student in the Southern region of the United States every year. Gibbs was nominated for the award by Centre College’s Bonner Program and Community Service Coordinator Liz Brandt.
“I nominated Hannah for the Gulf-South Summit Award specifically because the GSS conference has an esteemed reputation in the civic engagement field, and Hannah does the level of work that deserves recognition,” Brandt said.
Surprised to learn that she had won the award, Gibbs only realized that Brandt had nominated her after she received an email congratulating her as the award recipient.
“Hannah not only creates new and innovative projects but she also understands the importance of building off what already exists and making it stronger,” Brandt added.
One of Gibbs’ many service projects at Centre is >STAND: The Student Service Initiative, a group she started her freshman year that focuses on building connections in the Danville community through volunteerism at local organizations. Last year, the organization took more than 100 Centre students to the New Hope Food Pantry, where they spent an entire day painting, waxing, reorganizing and cleaning the building.
STAND receives support through the involvement of various faculty members as well as Centre’s Student Government Association, which provides funding for the group. Gibbs is also involved in Centre’s Bonner Program where participating students— Bonner Scholars— complete 10 hours of service a week at a community organization and receive a $25,000 annual scholarship. Through the program, Gibbs volunteers at the Central Kentucky Wildlife Refuge, where she combines the skills learned in her environmental studies major with her service interests in environmental justice and education.
“Bonner has given me an incredible and diverse group of people who have a similar commitment to service with whom to work and engage,” she said. Gibbs’ passion for service began with her family’s interest in helping others. Her mother worked as an elementary school principal, and her father was a public defender.
“I think that my parents had an incredible influence on not only the decisions I have made but the belief that I can do great things as long as I am doing them for the right reason,” she added. “They instilled a faith in people, I suppose, that pushes me to do the service work that I do.”
Gibbs goes on to explain that she feels all Centre students have a responsibility to get involved in service work because of the educational opportunities they’ve been afforded through the Centre experience.
“We have a sincere obligation to apply ourselves toward the bettering of our community, and, on what seems a small scale, the world,” she said.
Centre students have the opportunity to serve the Danville community in a variety of ways, including the After-School Program, Poverty & Homelessness Week and Greek life.
by Carbery Campbell
March 1, 2018