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Four Engaged Students Share Evon-Broderick Award

Every year, Old Dominion's Evon-Broderick Award for Community Engagement and Service is presented to a student for commitment to civic engagement and service to the University, as well as the Hampton Roads community.

The four finalists for this year's award were surprised at the annual Student Honors and Awards Dinner May 4 when they all received the award, named in honor of the mothers of University President John R. Broderick and First Lady Kate Broderick.

The four finalists, Gabriella Atwood, Tagee Blackman, John Royal, Jr. and Montae Taylor each received $1,000 for sharing the award.

"Kate and I are proud of all of the students who passionately give their time, knowledge and hearts to help our community become a better place," President Broderick said during the award presentation.

"In order to acknowledge our deserving students, in 2011 we created the Evon-Broderick Award for Community Engagement and Service in honor of Kate's mother Joan Evon and my mother Ellen Broderick, two special ladies who gave so much."

Montae Taylor, a criminology and sociology major from Richmond, Virginia, was chapter president of the ODU NAACP, as well as state vice-president for the student organization.

In a letter of support for Taylor's application, Johnny Young, associate vice president for Student Engagement & Enrollment Services, said: "To simply state that Montae is an involved student would be an understatement. Young added that as he has gotten to know Taylor through his student leadership role, "it is his extraordinary motivation that captures my attention, and which I find inspiring."

Gabriella Atwood, a nursing student from Virginia Beach, has been involved in a number of service organizations throughout her time at Old Dominion, including the Salvation Army and Virginia Beach City Public Schools.

Shari Davis, senior lecturer in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, said Atwood was one of the "excellent students" in her mathematics class. "In addition to excelling in the class herself, I discovered that Ms. Atwood was helping a number of her classmates who were struggling with the material," Davis said. This led to an invitation to tutor in the Math and Science Resource Center, because "she was such a natural at teaching and presenting the material in a clear and non-intimidating manner," Davis said.

John Royal, Jr., a political science student from Blairs, Virginia, volunteered his time and energy to write grants for projects of the ODU Enactus social entrepreneurship organization, earning $4,000 worth of support for the student club's service projects.

Cathy Lewis, WHRV radio personality and president and CEO of the CIVIC Leadership Institute, wrote that Royal has "exhibited a high level of commitment and involvement in our community service days, program sessions and events."

Lewis wrote that Royal has been a CIVIC Scholar since 2015. "Last year, he and four other CIVIC Scholars founded a chapter of the Food Recovery Network at ODU, and this year he leads the effort to further establish this student organization," Lewis wrote.

Tagee Blackman, an English major from Virginia Beach, served as chief justice of Old Dominion University's Student Government Association, and was a driving force behind the creation of a food pantry in collaboration with local faith group Ignite.

Young also wrote a letter of support for Blackman. "While Tagee has done well in the classroom, I have been most impressed by his ability to balance an incredibly busy personal and co-curricular schedule with his scholastic responsibilities," Young said. "He is, and most certainly will continue to be, a contributing member to the various organizations and communities in which he decides to live and work."

The Evon-Broderick Award was presented along with the University's academic awards and the Kaufman Award. Through family donations, the award guarantees a minimum $3,000 award each year to an ODU student, or students, who embody the community spirit of Ellen Broderick and Joan Evon.

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