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MCC Student Receives Award Named for Late Professor

HalimatOshunHalimat Oshun ’16 was recently presented the first Patrick Donohue Outstanding Service and Civic Engagement Student Award at MCC. The award recognizes a student who has demonstrated a substantive and positive impact through community involvement. It was presented at a reception attended by the College community, alumni, and Professor Donohue’s family.

Ms. Oshun is a two-year member of Democracy House, MCC’s service-learning program. She has participated in the Habitat for Humanity build several times, a camp cleanup, and numerous blood drives. She has visited the Menlo Park Home for Veterans on multiple occasions and works extensively with the Center for Empowerment. Ms. Oshun has also done both Martin Luther King and 9/11 days of service. She is also a Dean’s List student, and an officer with the Student Government Association.

The award is named for Patrick Donohue, a former professor at MCC, who passed away in July of 2015. Beyond his inspirational teachings on American politics, civic society and the democratic process, Professor Donohue was a tireless supporter of student involvement in the local community. Soon after becoming an instructor, he created Democracy House at Middlesex, which paired the needs of the local community with the opportunity for students to enhance their academic and personal development through community service. He left MCC in June of 2008 to pursue leadership of the Bonner Center at The College of New Jersey.

Jennifer Altman, sociology professor at MCC and the chair of the selection committee, spoke at the reception.

“Pat was the epitome of the perfect community college professor,” she said “He was whip smart, but not condescending. He was theoretical and practical. He was a doer, not just a talker and he was always moving, always dreaming, always planning, always connecting people. I could see it in the way faculty colleagues came up and brainstormed ideas with Pat; how the administrative staff glowed over the impact of the projects; how Democracy House staff thrived off Pat’s mentorship and commitment; how community members hugged and thanked Pat for truly caring, making a difference and making the time to connect to their worlds, their constraints, and their needs, and most of all, I saw it in the alumni and students. How they told me over and over again how Pat has changed their lives, how Pat believed in them before they believed in themselves. How Pat taught them to question, think critically and set higher expectations in the classroom than they had ever set for themselves.”

Through partnerships with the Bonner Foundation, Professor Donohue was instrumental in bringing AmeriCorps and Bonner Scholarships to countless students throughout his tenure at MCC. The Center’s partnerships with local nonprofits have focused on several areas of need in the greater Middlesex County area including hunger, homelessness, urban education, the environment, youth and family services, youth development, and immigrant services. For many years the Center has been on the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll.