Ethic of Service Award celebrates those who care about the region

Dean Emeritus Bob Virgil (front row, second from right)  joins recipients of the Gerry and Bob Virgil Ethic of Service Award on April 17 at the Knight Executive Education and Conference Center for a recognition ceremony. (Photos: Sid Hastings/Washington University)

Seven members of the Washington University in St. Louis community were celebrated for their contribution to the St. Louis region at the Gerry and Bob Virgil Ethic of Service Award ceremony April 17.

Sponsored by the university’s Gephardt Institute for Civic and Community Engagement, the annual event is now in its 16th year and was founded by Bob Virgil, dean emeritus of Olin Business School, and his wife, Gerry.

2019 Gerry and Bob Virgil Ethic of Service Award honorees:

Jared Lalmansingh: A doctoral candidate in physics in Arts & Sciences, Lalmansingh supports K-12 education through the Physics Outreach Committee. Under his leadership, the committee has expanded its Physics Family Fun Days program, staffed an astronomy night at a local elementary school and secured funding for a new public lecture series that makes physics more accessible to the public.

Patel (left) greets former Congressman Richard Gephardt.

Rupa R. Patel: Patel, MD, assistant professor of medicine at the School of Medicine, is director of the Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis for HIV Prevention Program, where she works to alleviate health disparities and advocates for accessible, affordable and quality health care for the St. Louis LGBTQ+ community. Patel also traveled to Bangladesh, where she supported Rohingya Muslim refugees.

Laurie Punch: Associate professor of surgery at the School of Medicine,  Punch, MD, is director of Power4STL, a nonprofit that aims to reduce harm from violence through community health outreach. She also has taught some 2,000 people bleeding-control skills and trauma first aid through the program “Stop the Bleed.”

George W. Sessen: Sessen, a research technologist for the School of Law, serves homeless St. Louisans through St. Louis Winter Outreach, a grassroots organization. As a volunteer, he travels St. Louis streets passing out tarps when rain or snow is predicted as well as fresh blankets, food and water.

Alexis Vidaurreta: A senior majoring in architecture at the Sam Fox School of Design &  Visual Arts, Vidaurreta has worked with the Wellston Loop Community Development Corp., Community Reconnect and Trailnet to build a resilient and equitable St. Louis. Read more about Vidaurreta in Class Acts.

Aaron Williams: A 2008 alum of the Sam Fox School, Williams is working to shine a light on the Ville, a historic African American neighborhood with a rich history in education, business, entertainment and culture, through his work with 4theVille, Young Friends of The Ville and the Ville Collaborative.

Olivia Williams: A junior studying cognitive neuroscience in Arts & Sciences and a leader in Student Union, Williams helped launch the Student Union Opportunity Fund and is working to create SafeSpot, a trauma-informed wellness center focused on ensuring marginalized students receive coordinated and integrated care. Williams also volunteers at Kingdom House and St. Louis Children’s Hospital.