2017 Community Impact Gala: Honoring Advocates of Community Service and Volunteerism
On Wednesday, October 25, 2017, over 150 guests gathered at the New-York Historical Society to celebrate the work of dedicated Community Impact student volunteers and workers, as well as honor two distinguished members of the Columbia University community: Dean Peter J. Awn, Ph.D. of the School of General Studies and Professor Michael Massimino, ENG '84 of the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science.
Peter J. Awn, Ph.D., is in his 21st year as Dean of the School of General Studies. In addition to serving as a professor of Islamic and Comparative Religion at Columbia University for over 40 years, he has lectured widely to academic and business professionals on what role Islamic religion plays in the current political and social development of the Muslim world.
Dean Awn was the recipient of this year’s “Making a Difference” award for his work with Community Impact, which dates back to the 1990s. Dean Awn has consistently supported the idea of community service in the neighborhoods we serve by encouraging General Studies students to work and/or volunteer with the organization. Over the years General Studies students have held leadership positions at Community Impact and have themselves become role models for our low income adult program participants who are struggling to improve their lives.
Dean Awn continues to be instrumental in the development and growth of several programs at Community Impact; he is particularly supportive of programs that have enabled members to obtain their High School equivalency diplomas. As a result, a number of Community Impact's adult learners have successfully applied to and enrolled at the School of General Studies. When presenting Dea Awn with the"Making a Difference" award, Richard Witten, Trustee Emeritus of Columbia University and a long-time Champion of Community Impact, elegantly underscored the academic accomplishments of Dean Awn and highlighted the support he enjoys from the Columbia community.
Dr. Michael Massimino, ENG’ 84 is a Professor of Professional Practice in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Columbia University’s Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, and the Senior Advisor of Space Programs at the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum. A veteran of the fourth and fifth Hubble Space Telescope servicing missions in 2002 and 2009, Dr. Massimino has many accomplishments in space, including a team record for the number of hours spacewalking in a single space shuttle mission and the unique honor of being the first person to tweet from space. Dr. Massimino has given talks around the country, inspiring young people to pursue STEM education.
Dr. Massimino was presented with the “Outstanding Community Service” award for his support of volunteerism and community service by co-founder and co-president of the Columbia Space Initiative Juli Di, SEAS '18. While a student at Columbia, Dr. Massimino volunteered with Big Brothers, Big Sisters of America (part of Diakonia – a predecessor organization of Community Impact). Dr. Massimino noted that his experience as a Big Brother informed his views on volunteerism and motivated him as a college student. Julia, who is also a former student and current mentee of Professor Massimino, noted that he is an excellent resource and a mentor to many students at the School of Engineering.
The Community Impact Annual Gala is the most vital fundraising event of the year. Proceeeds will help the Community Impact ensure that we remain a robust community service organization on campus and a trusted resource for our neighbors in need through our 28 adult, youth, health, and emergency programs for manyyears to come.
Thank you to all who attended. Your contribution and support furthers our work of helping individuals and families create better futures.
To view more photos from the event, visit our Facebook page.