White House recognizes Honors Student Association

The White House and AmeriCorps have recognized Lamar University’s Honors Student Association with the “President’s Volunteer Service Award” and Bronze medallion for their dedicated community service, most notably at the Southeast Texas Food Bank.   

In a letter from the White House, HSA service leaders and volunteers were recognized. The letter congratulated HSA on receiving the President’s Volunteer Service Award, stating: “Over this past year, you have served as a model of the American spirit. Your many hours of service have strengthened the bonds of cooperation and trust that bring people together, while helping to address some of the greatest challenges of our time.”  

With the impact of COVID-19 and Hurricane Laura presenting an even greater challenge for the 1 in 5
HSA Award
Madison Taylor, Annabelle Broussard
Southeast Texans facing food insecurity in our community in Fall 2020, Reaud Honors students stood out among the Food Bank's faithful volunteer base through their meaningful service to improve the lives of community members.   

“The date we planned on going was the day after Hurricane Delta hit Southeast Texas, and I really thought the food bank was going to cancel, but I am glad they did not,” said Annabelle Broussard, co-chair of HSA’s Service Committee and a Reaud Honors chemical engineering sophomore.   

“We only had a few students back out because of the storm, yet the majority still volunteered," Broussard said. “Helping with School Tools was such a great experience, because the woman in charge that day, Mary Simon, explained why School Tools was so important in our community. My mom teaches in BISD, so I know how hard it can be for educators to get the supplies they need to teach. I have seen how much time and energy teachers put into their lessons, so playing a role, even a small one, in ensuring that teachers are able to get the things that they need meant a lot to me.” 

The Honors Student Association members who volunteered on October 10, 2020, working with the School Tools program and helping assemble senior food boxes at the Southeast Texas Food Bank, were Reaud Honors students: Haya Alani (chemistry pre-dental senior), Miguel Arevalo (chemistry pre-med freshman), Stephanie Barron (biology pre-med sophomore, who would be elected HSA’s SGA representative for spring 2021), Halli Blank (general studies freshman), Britney Brevell (biology pre-med sophomore), Phillip Foster (electrical engineering sophomore), Reagan Jones (biology pre-physician assistant freshman), Stefany Rico (psychology sophomore and HSA social events co-chair), and Kyra Rost (sociology junior).   

With compassionate hearts and community spirit, Honors Student Association members gave back this academic year in so many ways: Hurricane Laura Relief in Orange, Texas; Southeast Texas Food Bank; Hope Clinic; Cardinal Pantry Food Drive; Food Service Project with the Lamar chapter of American Society of Civil Engineers; Nutrition & Services for Seniors; and at LU’s Big Event.  

Annabelle’s service partner, Madison Taylor, a Reaud Honors College biology pre-physician assistant sophomore, led HSA’s first service event, the Hurricane Laura Relief effort in Orange. From the beginning of their student leadership journey, Annabelle and Madison have partnered together to provide service events for HSA students to participate in. The two planned and organized the relief effort, collaborating with various LU organizations to recruit student volunteers for the two-day event. Yet Annabelle could not attend; she was quarantining for COVID-19 at the time, and Madison stepped up to show tremendous leadership that weekend.  “It was my favorite experience,” Broussard said. “The community got to see college students, many of whom had just evacuated themselves, give back and really make a difference.”  

Madison’s favorite service experience this academic year came when HSA volunteered at Hope Clinic in Beaumont to help rebuild a new Hope House for pregnant homeless women. “It was one completely out of my comfort zone, and I had to facilitate it from top to bottom,” Madison said. “I got a chance to speak with the adults running the event, coordinate our HSA members, and then we got to demo a house,” she says, with a laugh. “It was a great turnout and for a rewarding cause.”  

"They were amazing. What a great help. They worked hard and had a great attitude. We were able to completely gut the inside and prepare it for the rebuild," said Jeanette Harvey, executive director of Hope Clinic.   

The Honors Student Association provides experiences that promote the growth and development of Reaud Honors students, through various committees that include peer mentoring, campus involvement, social events, intramural sports and service.   

“The Reaud Honors College is immensely proud of Annabelle and Madison, and all of our students this academic year who focused their time and attention on other people’s needs. Nothing discouraged our students from caring about others and wanting to contribute, however they could, to make a difference—not a pandemic, not a hurricane, not a winter freeze,” said Meghan Rapp, coordinator at the Reaud Honors College, who served as HSA’s advisor this academic year, while the college awaited its future dean.

This spring, Lamar University welcomed Dean Tilisa Thibodeaux, a former AmeriCorps member herself, who has already begun advising next year’s leaders of the Honors Student Association. 

Congratulations on your prestigious and national recognition, Honors Student Association!