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Beholden in Bronze

News Story

The Center for Community Action and Research is pleased to award 12 members of the Pace Community 2014–2015 Jefferson Award Bronze Medals for their dedication to public service. And one was selected by the Jefferson Awards Board of Directors to represent Pace at the national ceremony in Washington, DC, this summer.

Known as the “Nobel Prize for public service,” the Jefferson Awards were established to recognize and honor individuals whose community service efforts best exemplify dedication to enhancing the quality of life in their community. Pace University became a Champion of the Jefferson Awards for Public Service in 2008. Nominations were solicited from the University community and finalists were selected based on their personal, sustained commitment to service, and for the model of spirit and service they provide the University community.

The Center for Community Action and Research is pleased to announce that the following 12 members of the Pace Community have been awarded Jefferson Award Bronze Medals for 2014–2015:

Brando Brandini
Environmental Studies, Dyson College of Arts and Sciences
New York City and Westchester campuses
An Eagle Scout and member of the Boy Scouts since age 12, Brandini has focused his service on encouraging others to become involved in their communities through causes including the environment and disaster relief. In high school, he founded the Community Action Team, the school’s first community service organization. Since he came to Pace, Brandini has organized multiple community service projects, including Pace Beautification Day and an e-waste recycling event. Brandini served as a student supervisor on Alternative Spring Break for two consecutive years, focusing on homelessness and hunger and disaster response. Brando Brandini’s recent application to the Peace Corps exemplifies his life-long commitment to public service and volunteerism.              

Kylah Bruno
Math and Adolescent Education, School of Education
Westchester Campus

Drawn to serving the Westchester Campus, Bruno organized multiple community service projects during her time here at Pace. Through her work with the Center for Community Action and Research, she organized events at Green Chimney’s, Pleasantville Cottage School, and the Sharing Shelf, and supervised Paint a School Day and the Successful Learning Center’s bowling trip and Spring Fling dance. Additionally, she volunteers at her local community center, Hudson Guild Teen services.

Diane Cypkin, PhD
Professor of Media, Communications, and Visual Arts, Dyson College of Arts and Sciences
Westchester Campus

Cypkin is a trailblazer when it comes to service. Whether in years past entertaining the troops as part of the USO, or being one of the original service learning faculty members in Pleasantville, Cypkin has a long and storied commitment to community service. Her Oral Interpretation course has Pace students working with seniors to give voice to the issues they face through the transformation of informational interviews into one act plays performed for the seniors and the community. She is also committed to sharing entertainment by performing her own one woman shows (concert/lectures) at libraries, senior centers, and her local community.

Brian R. Evans, EdD
Associate Professor and Department Chair, School of Education
New York City Campus

Evans has traveled to Uganda to teach mathematics problem solving and inquiry approaches with Educate Uganda. He has participated in Pace Makes a Difference Day and the Hattie Carthan Community Garden Cleanup, and has recruited students from the resident halls. Evans has also participated in disaster relief response after Hurricanes Sandy and Katrina.

Remy Gallo
Political Science, Dyson College of Arts and Sciences
New York City Campus

Gallo, who is passionate about agricultural issues, worked to co-found the Pace University vegetable garden with Alireza Vaziri ’14 by receiving the Pace Opportunity Grant. He has, in addition to taking care of the garden with recruited volunteers, been organizing events to promote the garden which is now giving produce back to the community. Gallo is also a volunteer hockey coach for the New York Rangers Youth Street Hockey program, in which he teaches the fundamentals of hockey and teamwork.

Jason Gonzalez
Nonprofit Management, Dyson College Arts and Sciences
New York City Campus

A Pace New York City undergraduate alumnus, Gonzalez has been committed to community work since he served on the Youth Leadership Council of Angel’s Place as a freshman in high school. Dedicated to serving the community, he co-founded the Rotaract Club of Pace University, a youth version of Rotary International, and from September 2013 through May 2014 he was responsible for coordinating and fulfilling over 600 service hours between himself and his fellow Rotaract members.

Maria Lane
Biology, Dyson College of Arts and Science
Westchester Campus

Lane's community service began with service projects through her high school's Interact Rotary Club and spread to involvement in her local parish's Senior Youth Group. Lane holds two leadership roles on campus as vice president of the Phi Sigma Sigma sorority and as VP of finance for Colleges Against Cancer. She is an avid member of Pace Makes a Difference Day and supporter of all service and philanthropic efforts of organizations on campus.

Michelle D. Land
Director, Pace Academy for Applied Environmental Studies
Westchester Campus

Land has been the director of the Pace Academy for Applied Environmental Studies since 2009. A tireless advocate for universities to mobilize their resources in service to the environment, Land was at the forefront of the launch of Pace Academy for the Environment in 2002; the Environmental Consortium of Colleges and Universities in 2004; and was a legal intern for the Pace Environmental Litigation Clinic in 2000, bringing opportunities for collaboration, engagement, and exploration of pressing sustainability issues from local to global. She has served both on Westchester County Executive Andrew Spano’s Global Warming Task Force and Climate Change Advisory Council, an academic adviser for Governor George Pataki’s Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries, and was an Executive Committee board member of MetroPool, Inc. from 2007–2012. As a faculty member of Pace's Environmental Policy Clinic, Land leads students in research, legislative drafting, and advocacy in areas of animal welfare and wildlife conservation.

Diana Mendez
International Management, Lubin School of Business and Sociology, Dyson College of Arts and Sciences
New York City Campus

An activist for global justice and peace, Mendez was chosen as one of only 50 students across the country for the Oxfam Change Leaders program and founded the Oxfam chapter on the New York City Campus in 2013. In that same year, she interned for a non-profit organization called Latino U College Access that was organized by the Wilson Center for Social Entrepreneurship. In her early teen years, she has volunteered locally with the Glen Oaks Nursing Home, the Daughters of Isis Foundation. Throughout this year, she has interned for the Success Upper West Academy, a daycare center in Puerto Lopez, Ecuador, and now for the ALSAC St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Also, while interning for the Office for Student Success, she has been able to bring together the Global Peace Foundation and Pace to give other students the opportunity to serve their community.

Kim Novak
Hotel Management and Hospitality and Tourism Management, Lubin School of Business
New York City Campus

A former Girl Scout, Novak has a long list of community service work, from working on playground construction for the Charter School of Excellence in Yonkers, to walk-a-thons for the March of Dimes, and for finding cures for leukemia and muscular dystrophy. She fosters awareness of, and worked to raise supplies for, kids in El Salvador and has participated in Knitting for a Cause for the Harlem Hospital Cancer Unit with Pace’s Office of Multicultural Affairs.

Robert D. Rahni
Assistant Director, Transfer Credit/Veterans Services, Office of Student Assistance and Adjunct Instructor, Dyson College of Arts and Sciences
New York City and Westchester campuses

Rahni is also a PhD candidate in the mental health counseling program and a proud advocate of student veterans at Pace and beyond. He created a veterans transition course entitled “From Combat to Classroom,” specifically designed to help student veterans transition into higher education. He has organized the Young Veterans group to volunteer at Habitat for Humanity, organized and volunteered in collaboration with the New York Knicks and PlayStation for a coat/food drive and basketball clinic called Hoops for Troops for underprivileged/homeless veterans, and has volunteered with the 23rd Street VA Hospital in Manhattan.

Alexander Saitta
Biology, Dyson College of Arts and Sciences
Westchester Campus

Saitta is a leader on campus as both a committed third-year resident assistant and chair of RA Council. Currently, he has completed over 250 volunteer hours with Phelps Memorial Hospital and is still an active volunteer. Saitta also volunteers as a local firefighter and EMT. He is an active volunteer in campus-wide service events. He was a participant in Alternative Spring Break 2012: Disaster Response: Hurricane Sandy with CCAR, and has organized multiple donation drives for the Westchester Food Bank and, most recently, for the Susan G. Komen foundation while at Pace.

Additionally, the Jefferson Awards Board of Directors selected Jason Gonzalez to represent the Pace winners at the national Jefferson Awards for Public Service ceremony in Washington, DC, this summer.