William Dalen Rice had to convince his parents to allow him to go on his first mission trip to Haiti.
“I assured them that this wouldn’t prevent me from completing my engineering education,” he said. “In my head this was a large fork in the road. I have friends who went down the normal “American” path. They now own homes and mortgages, have wives and kids, and careers with salaries.
“I took the path that Robert Frost suggested and I have no regrets.”
For Rice, that poetic trail took him to places where he experienced firsthand the generosity of people who have “less than nothing” and that inspired him to give more of himself. In honor of the exceptional ways in which Rice gives of himself to serve others, he was selected as the recipient of the 2009-2010 Nish Jamgotch Jr. Humanitarian Student Award.
Rice, a graduate student in geography and earth science who completed his degree in May 2010, received a $10,000 award.
Political science professor emeritus Nish Jamgotch Jr., who taught at UNC Charlotte from 1966-1993, established the award to recognize a student who demonstrates achievement and notable work in the humanitarian field.
– William Dalen Rice
Rice began his humanitarian efforts after his sophomore year when he took a mission trip to Haiti. His activities in UNC Charlotte’s Venture outdoor recreational program had prepared him for rustic outdoor experiences and in Haiti he found even greater challenges, doing “grunt labor” to help poverty-stricken people with physical needs.
For some humanitarians, that might be enough. Not for him.
Rice subsequently spent summers counseling children at camps and traveled to Mexico and Montana on missions with the United Christian Fellowship. He worked in Montana with the Blackfeet tribe of Native Americans and in Mexico on HIV prevention in community clinics. He worked on another project in Mexico to improve medical and dental care for those in need.
“Dalen is the gold standard of an inspiring young public servant,” said Ryan Lewis, operations manager with AmeriCorps*NCCC, in nominating Rice for the award.
Click here for more information about the Nish Jamgotch Jr. Humanitarian Student Award.