The Student Volunteer of the Year award recognizes a student who has performed outstanding volunteer service to USI and/or the community through the Volunteer USI program. The Mentor of the Year award recognizes a USI faculty, staff, alumni or community member who has mentored a current USI student to enhance their development in their overall academic field. The Volunteer of the Year award recognizes a USI faculty, staff, alumni or community member who has performed outstanding volunteer service to USI and/or the community through the Volunteer USI Program.
Student Volunteer of the Year
The 2019 Student Volunteer of the Year is Rebeka Mercker, a junior studying biochemistry from Ferdinand, Indiana. Mercker is a role model for students, serving as a leader in multiple student organizations, including Student Ambassadors, the USI Foundation Student Advisory Board, Timmy Global Health and the USI Student Housing Association. Always looking to go above and beyond, her nominator noted that she served 85 volunteer hours just with Student Ambassadors in the past year. Her nominator goes on to say that Mercker “leads by example in her willingness to always help out regardless of the task and can quickly adapt in any given situation to create a positive experience.”
Mentor of the Year
Dr. Darrin Sorrells, learning assistance specialist in Academic Skills, was recognized as the 2019 Mentor of the Year for his tireless and passionate support of USI athletics and student-athletes, helping them to achieve their goals both in and out of the classroom. Sorrells provides academic advising and guidance to students and is a mainstay at USI athletic events supporting the Screaming Eagles and assisting wherever help is needed. In nominating Sorrells for the award, his nominator said that Sorrells “has USI in his blood, as everything he does is to help the University.”
Volunteer of the Year
The 2019 Volunteer of the Year award was presented to Jennie Puckett ’03, a great friend of USI who has been volunteering for USI events ever since her time as a student. One of the first in line to volunteer for regular events such as Spruce Up and the Alumni Association Golf Scramble, Puckett also volunteers with the Center for Healthy Aging and Wellness and as a committee member for the annual Mid-America Institute on Aging and Wellness (MAIA).
Her nominator says that Puckett “spends much of her time serving others with compassionate care while remaining humble,” noting her additional volunteerism efforts with SWIRCA and More, WNIN and her local church. Puckett, along with her husband Jeff, is actively involved in the USI Volunteer community and the USI Alumni Association, and is known for being kind, eager to serve and genuinely interested in the well-being of others.
Established in 1996, Volunteer USI is a University-wide program to recruit, place and recognize volunteers who give their services and talents to benefit USI and the surrounding communities. Participants in Volunteer USI recorded 95,118 hours of volunteer service in the 2018-19 year and more than 2 million total hours of service since its inception. Along with the above honorees, the Volunteer Recognition Dinner celebrated USI community members which have individually logged 1,000 of service in their years of participation and 20 hours of service in the 2018-19 year.
For more information on Volunteer USI, visit USI.edu/volunteer.