NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Imagine going to the mailbox to retrieve your mail and discover a non-descript manila envelope with two words, “White House” and no return address, all written with a ballpoint pen. Upon opening it you discover that you are the recipient of an award signed by the President of the United States.
That is exactly what one Tennessee State University student found in his mailbox recently.
“I don’t know anyone in Washington, D.C., and found it very odd,” said Ryan Gammon, a junior majoring in Criminal Justice. “What I found inside both surprised and shocked me.”
Opening the envelope, he found another plain white envelope. Inside, it contained a letter signed by Barack Obama congratulating him on his President’s Volunteer Service Award along with an award citation.
“I was just amazed that someone here in Nashville recognized all my efforts and nominated me for the award,” said the Memphis native. “To be recognized by the President is quite an honor.”
According to the citation, the president thanked Gammon for his devotion to service and for doing all he can to shape a better tomorrow for the nation.
“Your volunteer service demonstrates the kind of commitment to your community that moves America a step closer to its great promise,” the letter said.
Since arriving at TSU, Gammon has been taking on volunteer projects that range from picking up trash around campus to larger projects in conjunction with the Center for Service Learning and Civic Engagement. Some of the volunteer projects he has been involved in include the March of Dimes Walkathon, and the MLK Service Day projects.
But the two biggest and what he is most proud of are working with The Little Pantry that Could, a small food pantry associated with the West Nashville United Methodist Church, and Adopt a Stream, a program initiated by Gammon and the Phi Beta Sigma fraternity, to keep a section of the Phillips Branch of the Cumberland River clean.
“I just think it is important to give back,” added Gammon. “My ultimate goal it to leave TSU with a legacy of giving to this community and to make it a better place.”
So who did nominate Gammon for the award?
“It was us,” said Dr. Linda Guthrie, the Director of the Center for Service Learning and Civic Engagement.
According to Guthrie, Gammon was nominated for his hard work and commitment, and his ability to find worthwhile projects that help the University and the community.
“Ryan is an organizer and really gets people motivated to get involved,” Guthrie said. “I wish we had more students like him that don’t mind getting their hands dirty and getting involved.”
Guthrie was also quick to point out that Gammon does not volunteer for the notoriety or the recognition.
“We have a lot of students like Ryan, at the University, who do a lot of great work in the community,” she said. “Sometimes they fly under the radar while volunteering throughout the community, and they do it not for the recognition, but because it is the right thing to do.”
Department of Media Relations
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With nearly 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.