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President Barack Obama Honors Cheyney University Art Students for Volunteerism

May 9, 2014

(Back row- l. to r. ) Prof. Marietta Dantonio-Madsen, Karla Hughes, Chidi Ugorji, Taylor Graham, Zakia Royster, Kendall Hood, Prof. Geri Vital, Nasir Edwards, Prof. Joel Keener
(Front row- l. to r.) Angelitta Anderson, Dymund Coles, Rosalyn Mitchell-Jackson, Pres. Michelle R. Howard-Vital, Provost Phyllis Worthy Dawkins

(Back row- l. to r. ) Prof. Marietta Dantonio-Madsen, Karla Hughes, Chidi Ugorji, Taylor Graham, Zakia Royster, Kendall Hood, Prof. Geri Vital, Nasir Edwards, Prof. Joel Keener (Front row- l. to r.) Angelitta Anderson, Dymund Coles, Rosalyn Mitchell-Jackson, Pres. Michelle R. Howard-Vital, Provost Phyllis Worthy Dawkins

United States President Barack Obama recently honored 10 Cheyney University art students with the White House Volunteer Service Award.  The students received their certificates because they performed 100 hours of community service this year.  

Each of the Fine Arts Honors Society (FAHS) students who were recognized volunteered at least 100 hours working on a collaborative effort with Kendal~Crosslands in Kennett Square, PA. Their art mural, created and presented to the retirement community in February, was also displayed at Kendal's facility. The students spent months working on the 4' x 4' colorful mural after spending time collaborating with Kendal residents. 

The students had wonderful role models leading them; CU Art Professor and Chair of the Fine Arts, Design, and Liberal Studies Department, Marietta Dantonio-Madsen, FAHS Advisor and CU Art Professor Joel Keener, and Art Professor Helena Domenic. All three have been recognized by President Obama in the past for their volunteerism. Professor Domenic has the Silver White House Volunteer Service Award for 200 hours of service in one year. Professors Madsen and Keener have the Lifetime White House Volunteer Award for at least 1,000 hours of community service.

Senior Nasir Edwards, who received the Art Excellence Award at the April Awards Convocation, was thrilled with this latest recognition.  "It was the first example of hard work pays off," he declared. "I've been drawing and painting all of my life.  I never thought I would ever receive an award from President Obama."

"I was floored," admitted senior and outgoing FAHS president Angelitta Anderson. She didn't waste time validating the authenticity of the signature either.  She actually compared it to the signature President Obama gave her when he autographed his book, The Audacity of Hope, for her while she campaigned for him in his first presidential election bid.

Incoming FAHS president, Rosalyn Mitchell-Jackson, who has one more year at Cheyney, reflected on the entire collaborative project with Kendal.  "It was life-changing," she insisted.  Most importantly, she said, everything that the art students did was supported by Cheyney President Dr. Michelle R. Howard-Vital and Phyllis Worthy Dawkins, Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs.

The President’s Volunteer Service Award is the premier volunteer awards program, intended to recognize diligent community service and encourage citizens to live a life of service. President Obama tells those who receive it; "Your recognition inspires others to take positive action to change the world."

"There's a plethora of opportunities to do here at Cheyney," Anderson exclaimed.  "Too many students let them pass them by.  You have to reach out and grab it," she advised.  

The awards were a total surprise to all of the students.  They volunteered because they wanted to. Getting recognized by the Chief Executive Officer of America--that was icing on the cake!