This spring, TTU honored two of its own with the annual Home Instead Senior Care Distinguished Service Learning Awards. The Tennessee Higher Education Commission gave four Harold Love Outstanding Community Service Awards to TTU faculty and students.
“I never really volunteered in high school and did not understand the meaning behind service learning,” said junior exercise science, physical education and wellness major Amanda Abbott. “Service has helped me get involved on campus and give back to others. Without service, my time here at Tech would not have been as meaningful and rewarding.”
Abbott, of Spring Hill, won both awards for her involvement in a variety of projects, including coat, children’s book and shoe collection drives. She has also helped to establish an on-campus food pantry and the Blessings in a Backpack program, which gives weekend food supplies to needy children in Jackson County.
In addition to Abbott, TTU chemistry major Kayron Tevepaugh, manufacturing and engineering technology professor Ismail Fidan and C. Pat Bagley, dean of the College of Agricultural and Human Sciences, received THEC’s Love Award. The award is named for Rep. Harold Love Sr., who was elected to the state General Assembly in 1968. Love was known for his willingness to help his constituents.
Bagley and Tevepaugh took their service overseas, visiting orphanages and schools in the Dominican Republic. Bagley is also active in the Cookeville Lions and Rotary Clubs and the Tennessee FFA Foundation, among other organizations. Tevepaugh, of Jamestown, has done most of her volunteer work in children’s hospitals and judging science fairs.
“My motivation to serve stems from when I was a patient at Vanderbilt Children’s at age 11,” she said. “I remember how the time I spent with volunteers in the playrooms there made me happy even though I felt so terrible. Since then, I always promised myself that I would do that and once you start working with kids, it’s contagious.”
Fidan also has spent a good deal of his time working with young people, introducing adolescent and teenage girls to engineering through a variety of programs, reaching out to teachers to improve science, technology, engineering and math education in K-12 schools, and advising TTU freshmen and clubs on campus. He and several professors from the College of Business also designed a cross-disciplinary course to take TTU students to Turkey. Students designed product packaging and developed marketing plans to sell Turkish products in the United States.
“‘Sharing is caring’ is my personal motivation, and I try to convey the best practices I have in my field to K-12 STEM teachers, students, my own students at Tech, our community and international audience as much as I can,” Fidan said. “Tennessee Tech is such a place that makes any faculty member very successful as long as you are engaged and motivated to your students and open to the technological trends of today.”
In a spring forum, the university gave political science professor Lori Maxwell its second Distinguished Service Award of the year. The awards are given annually to one student and one faculty member every year and are sponsored by Home Instead Senior Care. The owner of the company’s Cookeville franchise, Rob Brown, presented the awards this year at the forum.
Maxwell has taken TTU students to Algood Middle School to teach the younger students how to conduct a political debate. She is adviser to Pi Sigma Alpha, the political science honor society that helps to coordinate TTU’s annual Take Back the Night to raise awareness of sexual violence.
“Tech is really the perfect fit for an undergraduate education. At TTU, faculty members are incorporating critical thinking skills and real-world problem solving skills into the classroom and into the community to help foster lifelong learners,” Maxwell said. “Students really enjoy the hands-on nature of service learning assignments outside of the classroom, and they come away enriched from having served.”