The 2015 John D. Welty Award for Excellence in Community Service, which includes a $2,500 scholarship, will be presented to Fresno State senior Whitney Ferdinandsen. The award is given each year to a student who exemplifies the commitment to service that Welty championed during his 22 years as University president (1991-2013). Ferdinandsen will be officially recognized at the Spirit of Service Recognition reception, 8:30 a.m. April 27, 2016 in the University Student Union on campus.

Over the past year, Ferdinandsen has provided more than 600 hours of community service while leading projects and engaging fellow students to volunteer.

Whitney Ferdinandsen

Whitney Ferdinandsen

Ferdinandsen was one of the founders of Camp Kesem Fresno State, a camp for children whose parents have recently undergone or are in the midst of being treated for cancer. The week-long summer camp is completely organized and run by Fresno State students. The first week-long camp was held in August, and plans are underway to expand the camp in summer 2016.

Ferdinandsen also helped organize and lead a group of 23 Fresno State students and faculty for a two-week international service project in Naboutini, Fiji, in January. The group worked with local Fijians to build a better storm drainage system for the village, finish construction of a community center and provide enrichment programs for children.

While maintaining a 4.0 GPA, Ferdinandsen works as a student assistant in the Smittcamp Family Honors College office and works with Clovis West High School’s marching band. She also donates time each week in the junior high ministry program at Trinity Community Church. 

“Yet, over and above all that, she still finds the time and energy to devote over 600 hours to organizing and leading two major service projects in the last year alone,” said Chris Fiorentino, director of the Jan and Bud Richter Center for Community Engagement and Service-Learning at Fresno State. “She is an exceptional student and her service has touched hundreds locally and internationally.”

A 2012 graduate of Clovis West, Ferdinandsen is majoring in liberal studies and hopes to become a teacher. She is a member of the Smittcamp Family Honors Program and plans to graduate in May 2016.

“I’m delighted and grateful to win the Welty Award,” Ferdinandsen said. “These last four years have been joyful and rich because of the service opportunities I have been blessed to take part in. At the same time, I feel incredibly humbled. The reality is that my community service experiences were not solo projects, but the collaboration of many incredible Fresno State students who have an equal amount of passion to serve.”

Camp Kesem

Camp Kesem

The Welty Award is sponsored by Fresno State’s Community Service Scholarship Program, in memory of Marc and Marjorie Radin, who shared Welty’s dedication for engaging students in service and making the region a better place. The Welty Award is administered by Fresno State’s Career Development Center and Richter Center.

For more information, please contact Aleta Wolfe at 559.278.2381.