2012 Excellence in Community Engagement Award

Michelle Gladman was inspired to serve by Durham Tech’s 2010 graduation speaker, Peace Corps Director Aaron Williams. She provided a solo standing ovation, and vowed to “not let the momentum he inspired in me dissolve in the everyday, and often time consuming, responsibilities of grading papers, advising students, and teaching.”

She has more than kept her promise. Since then, she has volunteered over 900 hours to the Durham Crisis Response Center, where she serves as a hospital responder, accompanying survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and/or rape to the emergency room to advocate and provide support during forensic examinations, medical treatment, and law enforcement interviews. She has recently trained to become a court advocate as well, supporting survivors before, during, and after court proceedings against their abusers.

Many times when you see her at the copy machine in the morning, she has just finished one of her 16-hour overnight, on-call shifts, and she may very well be coming from spending several hours at the hospital at the side of a community member in need. Or she may be rushing off to court that afternoon. And she does all this while teaching classes, advising students, serving as Durham Tech’s Public School Liason, and completing her PhD.

In the Excellence application, Michelle mentions the benefits of her volunteer service to her understanding of herself, her discipline, and her students:

“How have I advanced Durham Tech’s mission through my community engagement? I have become a better teacher, learner, and service provider. I have taught others what being a community focused citizen is about in Durham. I have been fortunate enough to learn lessons along the way about who I am, who my community is, and what a community can do when motivated. Most importantly however, although my intent was to serve those affected by domestic and sexual violence, it is the survivors who serve me and my understanding of what a strong, resilient, and empowered woman can be, even in the worst situations imaginable. Because of that, I will always be grateful for the chance to be part of something that has changed my life in honorable, valuable, and profound ways. I am a better person now; and, it’s all because of one man who made me stand up two years ago to realize that being on my own two feet is all the strength it takes to start a new life, a better life.”