Senior Matthew Johnson receives Charles J. Ping Student Service Award

Matthew Johnson portrait

As Matthew Johnson ’18 (Marietta, Ohio) prepares to earn his Bachelor of Arts in both International Leadership and Political Science during Sunday’s (May 6) Commencement ceremony at Marietta College, the Warren High School graduate received an early gift.

Johnson, who will join about 250 other graduates in the Dyson Baudo Recreation Center for the 181st Commencement, was one of 12 students to receive the Charles J. Ping Student Service Award, which is sponsored by Ohio Campus Compact (OCC). The award was designed to recognize and honor undergraduate students for their outstanding leadership and contributions to community service or service-learning on their campus and within their community.

“Service often has an element of thanklessness to it, but that is precisely why we do it. We recognize that there is a vacancy where passion should be and complacency where mobilization should be,” Johnson said. “Though the Charles J. Ping recognizes an individual for their contribution to service, it would be insufficient to address that this award is truly recognizing the value and appreciation that Marietta College has for such work to prosper. I am surrounded by incredible service oriented, civic-minded, and socially responsible students, faculty, and staff. In some regard, this award recognizes the incredible work that the McDonough Leadership Center has done in cultivating an environment for students to develop a meaning for their education.”

The Ping Award winners represent the next generation of civic leaders and problem solvers.

“Matthew is very deserving of this recognition,” said Dr. Richard Danford, Vice President for Student Life. “No matter what leadership role he’s involved with as a student at Marietta College, he's constantly pushing to be sure that the organizations he is a part of are engaging in service to the Marietta community. His success in influencing others to serve has a multiplier effect on the impact of his service activities.”

The award is named in honor of Charles J. Ping, who served as President of Ohio University from 1975-94. An early supporter and Board Member of Ohio Campus Compact, Ping has been a tireless advocate for campus-community partnerships and increased opportunities for students to become active and engaged citizens.

This recognition is granted annually to undergraduates at Ohio Campus Compact member institutions.

Johnson has served two years as the Community Service Day Coordinator, where he connected people with tangible, hands-on volunteer opportunities. He also served as an EXCEL (Experiencing Civic Engagement and Leadership) Workshop Coordinator, and he also served as chair of an inaugural philanthropic formal that became an extension of a broader conversation about demonstrating the value of developing a lifestyle of service.

“Without the institutional and community support for service and leadership, none of these activities would have been successful,” Johnson said. “It is my responsibility not only to educate myself about community issues but organize opportunities for others to be educated as well. A core objective of my international leadership studies major is learning how to use leadership as a way to mobilize and engage people in thoughtful and sustainable action through social and organizational channels. … My studies in political science and particular interest in underdeveloped states and foreign aid have taught me an important lesson about the complexity of charitable donations and its failure to provide sustainable outcomes.” 

Johnson said his experience the past three years at Marietta have been transformative.

“Before college, I only concerned myself with success and financial stability. My work promoting thoughtful and critical dialogue about social issues in our community has challenged me to reconsider my post-graduate career,” he said. “As I begin to look into the life that I want to lead, I hold my social responsibility at the core and want to dedicate my life to furthering the social good. I plan to further my work as supplemental to my graduate school education. I have accepted admission to The Ohio State University for a master’s degree, and I plan to volunteer at the Community Refugee & Immigration Services center. I have always had an interest in the global sphere and plan to make a career from that interest.”