Havertown's Michelle Sheridan Receives La Salle University's Br. Emery C. Mollenhauer Award for Commitment to Community Service
Michelle Sheridan, a senior at La Salle University, has received the school's Brother Emery C. Mollenhauer Award, given to a graduating senior who has shown a commitment to community service.
"I was very humbled when I won the award," said Sheridan, who will graduate this May. "Anyone who does service knows that you do not do it for the recognition, so this award was more humbling than anything else." The award is named after Brother Mollenhauer, who has held a number of positions at La Salle, including Provost, during a 40-year career at the school. He is currently a professor in the English Department.
A resident of Havertown, Sheridan has been actively involved in community service throughout her years at La Salle. She not only participates, but coordinates the Los Nino program, in which La Salle students travel to Tijuana, Mexico to build schools. Sheridan also coordinates volunteers at the St. Francis Soup Kitchen in Philadelphia's Kensington section, and was coordinator for the Fellowship of Community and University Services, the umbrella organization for service programs at La Salle.
Her extended efforts include contributing to the Week of Hope for AIDS patients in Boston, weekly mentoring in the Big Brothers, Big Sisters Program, prison tutoring, and in La Salle's annual Branch Out Day, when the University community devotes a Saturday to participating in service programs in the community near the campus. This year, she also represented
La Salle at the Christian Brothers conference on the rights of children, held in Chicago.
"People perform service for a lot of difference reasons," she says. "I am motivated by my personal faith and belief in justice. This is work that, quite honestly, needs to be done, and I feel like I am working toward some kind of change."
"For me, it is about making people aware of those who suffer," she said.
Helping others is nothing new for Sheridan. While in high school, she coordinated a group of students who spent time at Inglis House, a home for people with physical disabilities. She volunteered at a home for AIDS patients and worked at a soup kitchen.
She also went to Mexico with the Los Ninos program in high school ("which is where I first knew I wanted to bring it to whatever college I went to," she said), and spent two weeks in Appalachia with a high school classmates running a day camp and working with Habitat for Humanity.
It was this record of service that helped Sheridan receive a Community Scholars Scholarship from La Salle. Each year, the University provides five students with scholarships covering half of their tuition. The University's officials started the scholarship so students could continue to provide community service by not having to work to help pay for school.
A double major at La Salle, studying religion and secondary education, Sheridan has already been accepted to graduate school to study theology.
"I am not sure if I want to go to graduate school right away, or put it off for a year and do a full year of service for a volunteer corps," she said.
Ultimately, Sheridan hopes to teach theology at the collegiate level and plans to continue to devote herself to social justice.