When a student body collectively volunteers a total of 333,453 hours in one academic year, people start to notice. This commitment to service was recently recognized by the Greater Williamsburg Chamber and Tourism Alliance, which honored the College of William and Mary student body as the “corporate citizen of the year.”
“I think that a lot of the time students who do a lot of service on campus don’t get thanked enough,” Student Assembly President Kaveh Sadeghian ’12, who accepted the award on behalf of the student body, said. “You guys are the ones doing the service out there, and, in the spirit of William and Mary, it’s often rooted in humility.”
To celebrate the award, the SA held a reception and award ceremony for the leaders of the various service organizations honored by it.
“Every now and then, something happens that is so perfect, simply perfect, that it’s inspiring,” College President Taylor Reveley said. “And I think this is one of those occasions.”
Kevin Walsh, vice chairman of the alliance board, presented the award and praised student efforts in partnering with more than 120 local organizations and schools and in branching out both nationally and internationally. He noted that the College was ranked as the top university in the country for community service and volunteerism by Washington Monthly magazine.
The event’s keynote speaker was George Srour ’05, founder and editor-in-chief of the College’s DoG Street Journal and founder and “chief dreamer” of Building Tomorrow. The organization, which he started in an unused room in his parents’s house after graduation, has sent more than 1,500 kids to school in Uganda and was named a top up-and-coming social change organization by Echoing Green magazine. Srour was the first person to receive the James Monroe Prize for Civic Leadership from the College, and was named one of the top 100 most powerful people in Indiana by Indianapolis Monthly magazine.
Srour described himself as a typical College student who has a difficult time saying no when presented with an opportunity and as the type of person to argue with any alumnus that he had a better time while at the College. Srour said the three most important things he learned while at the College were humility, community and the ability to dream.
“When I got here, I realized that all the people who made up my freshman hall and who made up my classes and who made up all the organizations I was involved with were all awesome,” Srour said. “And I learned that humility was key. I can’t tell you how many things that I applied to when I was on this campus that I got denied to do.”
Srour said he has kept the rejection letters as a source of inspiration, but in looking back at his time at the College, he focuses on what he was able to do. He claimed, that it was the supportive community that allowed him to dream big and to start the DoG Street Journal.
“This was an incredible place to start it,” Srour said.
In offering some words of wisdom, Srour not only told students to make the most of their time at the College, but also also to not take themselves too seriously.
“This is a really awesome place, but don’t take yourself too seriously,” he said. “A lot of what I learned and a lot of what I continue to use today are the experiences that happened outside of the classroom.”
Reveley praised both Srour and the student leaders for continuing the College’s long tradition of community service.
“This is a perfect award for our students,” Reveley said. “And it’s a nifty looking award.”