3 Johnnies honored with Man of Extraordinary Service award
April 1, 2020
By Frank Rajkowski
Though members of the Saint John’s community are now scattered across the nation and globe as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic that has closed campus and forced classes online for the remainder of this semester, the common values of community, service to others and justice that hold it together remain strong.
And those traits are exemplified by the three members of this year’s senior class who have been selected as the 2020 Man of Extraordinary Service award winners.
The distinguished students who have been bestowed with the award this year are Alex Modeas, a political science and peace studies major from Eden Prairie, Minnesota, Andrew Smith, a biology major from Amery, Wisconsin, and Quinlen Marshall, a chemistry major from St. Cloud, Minnesota.
The award annually recognizes the work of SJU students who are characterized by their personal commitment to service, and whose efforts promote community, justice, working with others to accomplish a greater good and thoughtful reflection through the lens of Benedictine Values and/or Catholic social teaching.
Candidates for the award are nominated by other students, faculty and staff at SJU and the College of Saint Benedict, but can only win the award once during their time in Collegeville.
Though the nominations are open to all undergraduate students at SJU, it’s fitting that this year’s three recipients come from a senior class that has seen its final year of studies altered in such a unique and uncertain way by the ongoing situation the world faces in light of the spread of COVID-19.
The three selected this year were chosen from a group of almost 30 nominees.
Each winner receives a $2,500 award made possible by an anonymous donor. They would typically be honored with an in-person presentation and reception. But because of current events, efforts are being made to recognize this year’s group – which was announced on March 20 – through a virtual presentation ceremony.
Some more about this year’s winners:
Alex Modeas says his goal has been to “strengthen the sense of belonging and support every student deserves to feel.”
To that end, last October, he played a key role in launching CSB/SJU World Mental Health Week.
“In collaboration with student health organizations, we were able to destigmatize the issue, and remind each other that no one is ever alone,” he wrote.
As a senior and Vice President of the SJU Senate, he also helped organize the Flynntown Village Festival and the Senate’s Hurricane Dorian relief fundraiser, an important effort at a school with such a strong connection to the Bahamas, a nation severely impacted by the storm.
Over the course of his four years, he’s co-directed a mentorship program, organized bystander training sessions and co-facilitated a Becoming Community discussion group.
He has also worked with young students at two schools in the St. Cloud area, as well as at the Ben Sinuka Primary School in Port Elizabeth, South Africa while studying abroad.
Andrew Smith said “coming to CSB/SJU only enhanced the significance of relationships that my family, hometown of Amery, Wisconsin, and Catholic faith have been growing inside of me.”
The member of the Johnnies wrestling team has served as this year’s president of the SJU Student Athletic Advisory Council and has helped organize fundraisers to support cancer research – a cause personal to him after he was diagnosed with bladder cancer when he was 11 months old.
He has also given of his time and effort on multiple mission trips, as a student emergency medical technician and through other efforts in the community.
Quinlen Marshall says, to him, an important facet of Catholic social teaching has been the “call to family, community and participation – which strives for participation in society and increasing the capacity of individuals to grow in community.”
He has embodied that mission through his work as a student coordinator at the Eugene J. McCarthy Center for Public Policy and Civic Engagement, a position he has held since 2017. He has also been a teaching assistant in the chemistry department and has held various other leadership roles on campus.
Among them: senior lead in the Student Health Assistant program, co-leader of an Alternative Break Experience, co-leader of a medical work trip to Honduras and serving as co-facilitator for a Becoming Community dialogue group.