Wichita, Kan. – Newman University junior Denver Shipman was among only 267 college students from across the country this year to receive the Congressional Award Gold Medal, the highest award bestowed by the United States Congress to civilian youth. Shipman and other medal recipients were honored at two ceremonies and a recognition dinner last summer in Washington, D.C.
Shipman, a chemistry major at Newman, said he first learned of the program through a cousin who had received the award.
“I had already done the public service and some of the other activities required for the award,” Shipman said. “I had to go above and beyond that, but it’s nice to receive an award for it.”
The Congressional Award was established by Congress in 1979 to recognize individuals for community service and to emphasize the need for America’s youth to grow into well-rounded, active adults. All Gold Medal recipients must perform at least 400 hours of Voluntary Public Service in their communities, and dedicate hours to Personal Development and Physical Fitness, focusing their energies on improving skills they already had or expanding their knowledge. Gold Medalists must also complete an Expedition/Exploration project involving overseas travel or learning from different cultures within their communities.
For his Volunteer Public Service, Shipman worked three summers doing lacrosse clinics for boys, and helped build homes in partnership with families in need through Habitat for Humanity. He also helped clean and refurbish the chemistry lab at Newman University.
For his Personal Development goal, Shipman earned and saved money for college by working on a farm and being a summer day camp counselor. He achieved his Physical Fitness goal by becoming more fit through lacrosse. Shipman was on the first lacrosse team in the Wichita community and traveled a four-state area to compete in matches. He met the Expedition/Exploration goal through an environmental endeavor of raising funds to benefit an indigenous Ecuadorian Kichwa tribe in the Amazon rainforest. He also learned how to field dress and process a deer during a hunting expedition.
Shipman said that in addition to receiving the award, he enjoyed meeting people and visiting the museums and monuments during his free trip to Washington, his first to the nation’s capital.
“It was pretty cool,” he said. “I’m glad I did it, and I’m glad the award is there for people to get.”
Denver Shipman when he was in Washington, D.C., to receive his award.