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Staten Island Scholar Named Recipient of the Second Annual San Damiano Servant Leadership Award

Monday, June 13, 2016

Brandon Turner ’16TCB, who recently graduated from St. John’s University’s Staten Island campus, has been named the recipient of the second annual San Damiano Servant Leadership Award by the Franciscan Mission Service. He was selected for this award, which is given to a “dedicated, faithful, service-oriented young leader answering God’s call to ‘rebuild the Church,’” from a pool of applicants spanning the country.

“My prayer and faith has been the strength that allows me to serve,” said Turner. “Service is extending the same kind of treatment to everyone that you would want to receive. It’s to do something for others outside of who we are.”

Turner embodies the Vincentian mission of service: He is a member of the Phi Eta Sigma National Honor Society, the Community Service Chair for the Kappa Sigma Fraternity, and the President and Secretary for the St. Vincent de Paul Society. As a Catholic Scholar for the past four years, he received the Vincentian Mission Award at last month’s Staten Island Commencement.

“Brandon, a member of the first cohort of the Catholic Scholars program, is certainly deserving of the San Damiano Servant Leadership Award,” said Stephen DeBlasio, Director of Campus Ministry for the Staten Island campus. DeBlasio worked closely with Turner for years when he was a Campus Ministry Student Assistant. “Brandon helped in the area of spirituality, providing and creating music for our liturgies and prayer services, and leading prayers for our students,” he explained. “All of his hard work proves that he more than deserves this award.”

For the past three years, Turner has helped lead a Rendu Freshman Service Plunge experience, which seeks to introduce freshmen to service through visits to nursing homes, soup kitchens, and food pantries. He also participated in Campus Ministry-sponsored service plunges to Panama and Lourdes.

Though Brandon is deeply involved in the community, he remains humble and genuine toward each endeavor he pursues. “He does what he does because he enjoys it, or because it expresses his faith, or because it's just what he feels he's supposed to do,” said Melissa A. Gibilaro, Residence Minister for Vincentian Service and Catholic Leadership on the Staten Island campus. “Done without airs or presuppositions, Brandon lives and leads simply because that is who he is.”

Turner received the award at the Franciscan Mission Service’s 2016 World Care Benefit and Celebration on May 13 in Washington, DC. While in Washington, Brandon met with social justice organizations and individuals in the areas of youth ministry, refugee services, and legal aid. He plans to donate the $500 scholarship he received to assist Catholic Relief Services’ efforts to help Syrian refugees.

“My visit to Washington showed me that young people are encouraged and supported to get more involved in their community,” Turner said. “This award exposed me to larger networking and service opportunities, and I’m truly grateful.”

Brandon is currently enrolled in the Master of Science in Taxation at St. John’s Staten Island campus.