Senior criminal justice student, Tom Hall, of Birdsboro, Pa., was presented with the Franciscan Peace and Justice Award during an honors ceremony at Alvernia University, Sun., April 21, 2013. In addition, Hall received the university’s Internship Award for Criminal Justice and the Holleran Center’s graduation award for excellence in service.
The Franciscan Peace and Justice Award is a major recognition given to a graduating senior who demonstrates a spirit of service and leadership in academic and co-curricular activities; promotes diversity and respect for all people, is dedicated to engagement in the community, especially with the poor and marginalized; and is actively committed to building a global community rooted in the values of social justice and peace.
“As a student, Tom Hall has demonstrated a spirit of service and servant leadership in classes, committees, clubs and activities on and off campus; has promoted diversity and respect for all people and all of creation, and has lived the value of peacemaking in harmonious interpersonal relationships,” said Sister Roberta McKelvie during a presentation speech. “Our Franciscan Justice and Peace Award winner is truly a young man of passion and compassion, of service and leadership, one who promotes diversity and respect.”
Tom Hall has participated in a variety of student organizations, including holding leadership roles in the Criminal Justice Association and the Student Government Association. He participated in the Protection Project at Johns Hopkins University, which incorporated efforts to stem human trafficking and educating corporations about social responsibility and anti-trafficking legislation; has completed over 250 hours of volunteer work while an Alvernia student, including week-long mission trips to Washington, DC, Kentucky, and West Virginia; and last semester, he worked with the Washinton Center on its Civic Engagement Project, which involved participation in the Human Rights Campaign, work with The DC Center, and the Whitman Walker AIDS Walk.
Growing up in Philadelphia, Tom says he “learned to not notice the homeless.” They were seen as people not to be trusted, drug addicts, people out to hurt and steal. He grew a “thick and callous attitude” toward them. While in Washington D.C., Hall challenged his own beliefs and leadership capabilities, by working with organizations who directly affect those who are homeless. “As an individual, I was challenged to break the barrier that was built against those who are homeless,” he said. “In the end, I achieved both and gained more than I asked for. I gave my heart and soul into our mission, and so much more was given back to me.”
During a presentation of the Franciscan award at Alvernia, Sr. Roberta McKelvie told more than 600 peers, faculty, and family members in the audience that, “Tom’s experience resonates strongly with Alvernia’s Franciscan heritage. It is with gratitude and great pride, that I congratulate Tom for being a person who is now and will continue to be a shining example of the Franciscan values of working for peace and justice.”
ALVERNIA is a fast growing Franciscan university, grounded in the Catholic and liberal arts traditions, that combines diverse academic opportunities with personal attention and an unmatched commitment to community service. Situated on a scenic 121-acre suburban campus in historic Berks County, Pa., the university supports a rigorous and caring learning community that is home to more than 3,000 students.