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Beyond the Infinite

Beyond the Infinite, Fall 2013
Volume 8

Celebration, Reflection, Transformation

Priscilla Gray

Priscilla King Gray HM presents the Priscilla King Gray Award for Public Service to Daniel Mokrauer-Madden '08.

As we approach 2014, we bid farewell to our 25th anniversary year. This year has been a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the efforts of MIT's Public Service Center and the amazing humanitarian work of the tens of thousands of MIT students that have come through our doors. During our 25-year history, these students have served communities in over 30 states and in more than 65 countries.

Our 25th anniversary has also enabled us to reflect on the difference the PSC has made in the lives of students and the communities they serve. We asked members of the PSC's Leadership Council to share their thoughts on the PSC's contributions over the years and many spoke about the valuable difference the PSC has made by creating and fulfilling a central role for public service at the Institute. As PSC Council member Elena McFann '90 reflected, "Before the PSC existed, [MIT students] didn't have an easy way to get information and connect with others to serve people in the community."

The PSC's growth over the past 25 years has benefitted students and communities alike. "It has been exciting to see the evolution of the PSC over the years from simply a clearinghouse where students could find information about ways to become engaged in local community service projects to an office that provides support and guidance for student ideas of ways to make the world a better place," says Bonny Kellermann '72.

Through its central role, the PSC has worked to support and encourage quality public service at MIT that has made a significant difference in communities around the world. In the words of PSC Council co-chair Joe Levitch '69, "I believe the actual achievements of our students...have widely demonstrated the impact that a single student or a small team of students—with the passion and commitment to address a problem—can have."

As the PSC has worked over the years to establish and strengthen a role for public service on campus, we've transformed from a one-person shop focused on local volunteering to a center that focuses on helping students engage in service projects that harness their innovative and entrepreneurial spirits, technical abilities, and compassion, with lasting benefits for communities around the world. The PSC approach is to provide logistical support and grant funding; connect students with opportunities, mentors, and faculty; offer strategic and planning advice; and, in doing so, help students build a lifelong commitment to service.

Communities aren't the only beneficiaries as MIT students themselves are transformed through their experiences. They become leaders, collaborators, visionaries, and catalysts for change. As Agha Mirza '94 noted, "Involvement with the PSC transforms students into individuals who feel a responsibility towards social challenges of the global community."

Over the last 25 years, the transformative work of MIT students has crossed borders and tackled different issues. From education to disaster relief to technology, in Cambridge and beyond, MIT students have worked with and within communities to engineer innovative solutions to real-world problems.

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