SUNY Oswego junior wins national award for civic engagement

OSWEGO — Campus Compact, a national coalition of more than 1,100 college and university presidents committed to civic responsibility and community engagement, has named SUNY Oswego junior Garrison Kingston winner of a 2014 Newman Civic Fellows Award.

Garrison Kingston
Garrison Kingston

Kingston, a broadcasting and mass communication major, was among 197 student leaders from colleges and universities in 36 states and Washington, D.C., that Campus Compact honored for commitment to “creating lasting change in communities throughout the country.”

For four semesters, including the last year as leader of a 10-student team, Kingston has participated for SUNY Oswego with the Oswego City School District in the Mentor-Scholar Program, working one-on-one with middle school students at risk of dropping out before finishing high school.

“With a strong passion for education and dedication to social justice, Garrison Kingston has taken initiative to improve the mentoring programs offered through SUNY Oswego,” the Campus Compact said in a citation.

Patricia Waters, the college’s interim director of experiential learning, said Kingston has been “just remarkable” since she first met him as a new mentor seeking college credit for working with city youngsters who need academic and social guidance.

“Garrison never hesitates to jump in and move above and beyond his required commitment,” said Waters, who nominated Kingston. For example, Waters said, Kingston volunteered for Skype sessions with a class of third-graders, and helped greet them when the students came to campus April 9 for Quest, SUNY Oswego’s annual daylong celebration of scholarly and creative activities.

The Campus Compact citation said Kingston’s leadership role this year “has enabled Garrison to put into practice the skill he naturally possesses for positively motivating and influencing those around him.”

Kingston, a resident of Geneseo, said Mentor-Scholar really hit home from him when a boy he mentors wrote in a “heroes and leaders” letter about how much Kingston’s scholastic and social guidance meant to him. “I was touched. It affected me,” Kingston said. “I felt I was doing something good to help someone.”

A resident adviser in Scales Hall, Kingston plans to be a community assistant in the Village on campus, a Laker Leader again at this summer’s new-student orientation sessions and he continues to work with young man who regards him as a “hero and leader.”

Kingston also belongs to the Shaun Cassidy Fan Club, an improv comedy troupe on campus, and has had internships with the Oswego YMCA and the college’s communication studies department.

To learn more about service learning and community service opportunities at SUNY Oswego — named to the Carnegie Foundation’s prestigious Community Engagement Classification — visit www.oswego.edu/academics/opportunities.