UK honors two students for service to the community

By Fink Densford

The Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award will honor two members of the UK community at the 143rd commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 8.

Spanish and international studies senior Rebecca Linares and Lexingtonian Patrick Smith will receive the Sullivan award, which is given to one or two graduating seniors and a non-student who have had a significant positive impact on their community through personal service.

“Sullivan Award winners are very special people,” chairman of the Sullivan Awards committee Phil Greasley said.  “Recipients are those whose service and civic ethics are so well-developed that they don’t even see themselves as doing something noteworthy.”

Linares spends much of her time tutoring refugees and volunteering with local English-as-a-Second-Language programs.  She recently volunteered at Cassidy Elementary School with a program designed to help mentor and tutor newly arrived refugee children.

“I think my favorite part is how engaged and excited the students are about being in a classroom,” Linares said.  “I love seeing kids who value education, that want to be engaged, that want to learn.”

Linares currently volunteers at Morton Middle School as a volunteer teaching assistant. She plans to continue her work and studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Smith was a Habitat for Humanity activist and former UK employee who died on board Comair Flight 5191 when it crashed on takeoff at Bluegrass Airport on Aug. 27, 2006. He spent years building houses for the poor in Lexington and around the world. Smith also served on the Habitat for Humanity International board of directors.

Greasley said this Sullivan Award is atypical, because it does not normally go to high-profile people like presidents of organizations or administration members.

“This year’s winners were extremely impressive in their service to others, the impacts they produced and the lives they transformed,” Greasley said.