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SMC senior honored for community service

Ashley Charnley | Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Saint Mary’s senior Lizzy Pugh tutors children, serves as a teacher’s assistant at a local primary center and writes letters to grade school students through the College’s pen pal program.

But Pugh, a religious studies and German double major, does not clock these service hours to further her major. Rather, she got involved in service to get to know the greater community.

“I wanted to know South Bend,” Pugh said. “Service is not only an excellent way to know South Bend, but also to know not only the triumphs, but the tribulations the community faces. You get to get in there and be with them in solidarity, face those things and help them overcome them.”

As a result of her efforts, Pugh won the “Patricia Arch Green Award for Outstanding Contribution to the College Academy of Tutoring Program.”

The Office for Civil and Social Engagement (OCSE) gave the award as part of National Volunteer Week, which ran from April 19 to April 23.

Green, for whom the award is dedicated, graduated from the College in 1961 and spent her life doing service. In 2008, Green’s husband established this award, which goes to a student in the College Academy of Tutoring (CAT) program who has done “exemplary” volunteer work.

Colleagues of Pugh say she is one of these people.

“[Pugh] is an example of service and dedication to others,” CAT program director Olivia Critchlow said in a press release. “She leads in a very gentle way that is far beyond her years and is a very compassionate listener to everyone she encounters. She is an asset to the College, but even more importantly, an asset to our community.”

Pugh has clocked over 475 hours of service during her time at Saint Mary’s.

At Warren Primary Center, Pugh works with children with learning disabilities, such as Attention Deficit Disorder and dyslexia. She said seeing a child transform from a student who cannot stand reading into one who gets excited about it is one of the most fulfilling experiences.

“They would rather be dragged through the mud on a rainy, cold day than read a book,” Pugh said. “So, my favorite thing is, even just in a few weeks, they run up to you and say, ‘Can you read with me today?’ They are just so excited about reading.”

Pugh said she remembers one girl in particular who struggled with reading for a very long time because she was coping with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

“She was reading [a chapter book], when the year before I had to pull teeth to get her to read a book,” Pugh said. “[It] was really a testament to the work of not only myself, but also the other young women who worked in those classrooms, as well as the teachers.”

After graduation, Pugh said she hopes to continue service work, whether in the classroom or aiding women and children.

In addition to her work in the local schools, Pugh has also been involved in campus ministry and OCSE events and planning.

No matter where life takes her, volunteer work will always play a role, she said.

“I know I want to work with kids and faith, or even just service,” Pugh said. “Service is just such a part of my life and I can’t imagine it any other way.”