by Neree Aron-Sando
Patricia Piazza has brought honor to Montgomery County Community College, funding to a child advocacy center headquartered in Blue Bell, and support to the College’s Criminal Justice Club.
Piazza, of Eagleville, a non-traditional student at Montgomery County Community College, was named a Newman Civic Fellow for 2013.
Montgomery County Community College President Dr. Karen Stout and Dr. Chris Przemieniscki, assistant professor of Criminal Justice and advisor to the student Criminal Justice and Fire Science clubs, nominated Piazza for the national award.
The Newman Civic Fellows Award honors college student leaders nationwide who inspire others and have worked to find solutions for challenges facing the community, according to its page on the Campus Compact website. “Through service, research, and advocacy, Newman Civic Fellows are making the most of their college experiences to better understand themselves, the root causes of social issues, and effective mechanisms for creating lasting change.”
Piazza, Przemieniscki said, has been one of the key organizers of the Hogs and Honeys Valentine’s Fundraiser Party to benefit Mission Kids in Montgomery County. Mission Kids is an organization that offers a team response to allegations of child abuse in a dedicated, child-friendly setting to achieve justice for child victims and promote their physical and emotional well being. The mission of Mission Kids is to help the victims of child abuse in Montgomery County begin to heal, he explained.
“Tricia has strived to go beyond direct service in order to seek long-term solutions for this serious and troubling social issue,” Przemieniscki wrote. “She has been instrumental in . . . helping generate interest from community members, businesses, and advocate groups to help support this annual fundraiser around Valentine’s Day. Her involvement and leadership within Kickstart has led to the gradual expansion of this benefit, which started in 2004 with only 30 guests, to over 600 guests attending this year’s event. Not only has she reached out to the community for financial contributions; it has been her mission to educate and promote the goals of Mission Kids.”
“I am proud and humbled to be the recipient of The Newman Civic Fellows Award,” Piazza said. “I am pleased that it brings more attention to Mission Kids of Montgomery County and I am proud to be a part of my organization, Kickstart.”
Piazza emphasized that she does not work directly with the children and she is not a Mission Kids employee. “We raise money every year, and we donate it to Mission Kids. Our dedication and passion for their cause and the work that they do are obvious, and we match it with the same shared values and dedication. It is a great cause and I am proud to be a part of it. If every dollar we raise helps a child heal from the horror of abuse, then we will continue to raise money and awareness in our neighborhood, community and schools.”
At the College, Piazza is vice president of the Criminal Justice Club and has inspired her fellow criminal justice students to take an active role in the benefit, volunteering their services that night to help with the event, Przemieniscki wrote.
“My first year at the College, I became involved with the Criminal Justice Club and saw all the wonderful work they did to further the education of the students with ‘real life’ events that are relevant to their major and to the workforce they are seeking to become involved in,” Piazza said.
She was the recipient of a James E. Carroll Criminal Justice Scholarship award through the College’s Foundation, and she maintains a 4.0 GPA.
“I chose Montgomery County Community College because of its reputation for being a great college that accommodates diversity,” Piazza said.
Piazza lives in Eagleville and works for the Transportation Security Administration.
“Upon graduating, I intend to finish my bachelor’s degree and am strongly considering Penn State Abington. I presently work as an officer for TSA and plan to explore other positions in the Department of Homeland Security,” she said.
Przemieniscki believes that Piazza’s advocacy for organizations like Mission Kids will stay with her throughout her career. “While the fundraising benefit is only once a year, her leadership, passion, and desire to stamp out child abuse and help support the goals of Mission Kids has become a lifelong endeavor,” he wrote.
Newman Civic Fellows are recommended by college and university presidents to acknowledge motivation and ability in public leadership. Newman Civic Fellows awards are made in memory of Frank Newman, who dedicated his life to creating systemic change through education reform.