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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

Founders’ Day Awards Recognize Members of ODU and Hampton Roads Communities

Old Dominion University's Founders' Day luncheon, a tradition on the campus since 1987, saw the presentation of several awards on Friday, Oct. 4, including the new Monarch Legacy Award, which went to four recent graduates.

The luncheon was held in the Big Blue Room of the Ted Constant Convocation Center. The following awards were presented:

ODU Community Service Award - This award went to the Human Services Association and the Student Veterans Association. The award is presented in recognition of the contributions of faculty, staff and student leaders to service in communities in Hampton Roads and elsewhere.

The Human Services Association was established as a student organization in 1991. Its mission is to provide networking and internship opportunities, and is consistently a top fundraiser for Relay for Life and the top student fundraising team for Hampton Roads Night Out, sponsored by The Dwelling Place.

Officially recognized as a student organization in 2011, the Student Veterans Association is dedicated to serving the needs of all military-affiliated students at ODU. Currently the largest student organization on campus, it logged more than 400 hours of community service last year. It has been integral in programs such as the Military Transition to ODU and helping students navigate through benefits such as the VA Work-Study Program and the GI Bill.

Monarch Legacy Award - A new honor, this award was created to recognize a member or members of the ODU community whose actions made a significant impact on the campus community. It went to four ODU graduates.

Kurnia Foe '06, '13, was honored for founding the ODU student organization Global Student Friendship, which has provided support services to more than 4,000 international students, including helping them in their search for housing. Josh Darr '13, Luis Ferreira '11, '12 and Fred Tugas '13 were recognized for their role in the commissioning of the Big Blue statue in Webb Center.

Rita M. Costello Town-N-Gown Community Service Award - This award was presented to Gail Easley, executive director of the Crispus Attucks Cultural Center. Recipients of this award are honored by the board of Town-N-Gown, an independent, informal association of men and women dedicated to developing a mutual understanding between ODU and the various civilian and military communities of Greater Hampton Roads. The award recognizes individuals from many aspects of the larger community who have demonstrated unusual concern for and commitment to serving others.

In her role with the CACC, Easley supports educational, civic and multicultural activities to enhance learning through the arts for 2,500 under-resourced children and teens, and is committed to providing unprecedented opportunities for empowerment of children.

This award is named in memory of Rita M. Costello, who was a member of Town-N-Gown and a tireless, dedicated community service volunteer.

Albert B. "Buck" Gornto Jr. Regional Service Award - This award went to the Rev. Kevin Turpin, a pastor of New Life Providence Church and founder of the Life Enrichment Center, a local urban outreach venue whose primary mission is to help children from low-income communities become proficient readers within the first few years of their elementary education. The recipient of this award must be a resident of Hampton Roads and someone who has shown outstanding commitment and service to this region of the commonwealth.

Through his work, Turpin endeavors to see racial reconciliation, lives enriched and communities transformed through strategic initiatives and partnerships.

This award is named in memory of Albert B. "Buck" Gornto Jr., who was a 1957 graduate of ODU and served on the Board of Visitors from 1970-78. The Albert Brooks Gornto Jr. Teletechnet Center was named in his memory in 1998.

Distinguished Entrepreneurial Award - This award was presented to Bruce L. Thompson, a long-time leader in the travel industry. The honor is given in recognition of individuals who, through their creative spirit and leadership, have strengthened the vitality and progress of the Hampton Roads business and educational communities.

Thompson has been a leader in the travel industry for more than 25 years. His first venture grew to become the largest ski operator on the East Coast. Today, his companies generate annual revenues exceeding $170 million and employ more than 2,000 associates. He is also a proponent of community service. Since 2008, he has organized the largest Walk to Defeat ALS in that organization's history, raising more than $5 million. In 2009, he designed and secured funding for the world's first fully ADA accessible oceanfront park.

Also at the luncheon, the winners of the inaugural Founders' Day Cup Challenge were announced. The challenge, sponsored by the Student Ambassadors in partnership with the Student Government Association, is designed to test students' "Monarch knowledge." Taylor Kline, vice president of the ODU Student Ambassadors, and SGA President Collin Hust led the efforts in coordinating the challenge. The winner of the Founders' Day Cup Challenge was Team A.C.K., composed of Christine Gausin, Kayi Chan and An Pham.

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