During the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service, held on Saturday, Jan. 21, Celeste Smith ’12 was awarded the MLK Drum Major for Service award, which recognizes volunteers who perform extraordinary everyday acts of service with reliability and commitment, but who seldom receive recognition.
“Celeste stands out for her consistent leadership over a period of three years. She has stood by the Days of Service club for several semesters and diligently worked to make it better,” says Assistant Director of the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning (CCESL) Jeremy Wattles. “Celeste is incredibly dedicated to service – she is conscientious, kind, organized, and determined to pull off both a great event and to help out her community. I have rarely met other students as committed as she is.”
During a sermon on the “Drum-Major Instinct” given by the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on Feb. 4, 1968, King notes, “If you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness.” Obama, summarizing the content of King’s speech, later concludes, “The great test of a life, Dr. King said, is to harness that instinct; to redirect it towards advancing the greater good; toward changing a community and a country for the better.”
Smith has more than met this test to harness her “Drum-Major Instinct” for the betterment of the HWS and Geneva communities. At the forefront of community service here at the Colleges, Smith is an active participant in a variety of community service endeavors, including her four-year service in the EMS student group and her commitment to Day of Service, which she has planned for the past two years. Additionally, during her junior year, she completed a Community-Based Research Project with the Ovid Food Pantry, which transferred all records to a computer database that would more easily enable the pantry to apply for grants, make periodic reports and evaluate its efficiency in meeting the needs of its clients.
“As CCESL’s Civic Leader for Outreach, she is the ‘go to person’ for volunteer needs, including Community Lunch Program Thursdays, kettle ringing for the Salvation Army, Day of Service, and volunteer recruitment when community partners call for specific projects,” says Director of CCESL Katie Flowers.
More than a committed community service volunteer, Smith is also an avid cellist, who has participated in the Colleges’ String Ensemble since her first year. In February of 2011, Smith travelled to New York City to perform for the College’s Seneca Society, which was established in 2006 to honor those whose philanthropy has remarkably altered the course of Hobart and William Smith history.
“She is a wonderful woman-fun loving, engaged in all endeavors she chooses to participate in, and a terrific cellist,” says Music Professor and Department Chair Robert Cowles, who has worked with Smith since her first year.
In 2011, Smith was the recipient of the November Leader of the Month Award along with Caitlin Hughes ’12 for their collaborative work as co-chairs of Day of Service.
A psychology major, Smith has a double minor in child advocacy and music. In addition to her other activities, she is also a member of the Outdoor Recreation and Adventure Program (ORAP) and volunteers at the Community Lunch Program, Geneva General Child Care and the Geneva Teen Mom program.
The award is facilitated by the White House and the Corporation for National and Community Service.