Senior honored for dedicating college career to volunteer work

April 4, 2011 | Features, UToday
By Sarah Ritenour

Stephen Urbanski posed for a photo with one of the children he met while on a mission trip to Honduras.

Stephen Urbanski posed for a photo with one of the children he met while on a mission trip to Honduras.

Stephen Urbanski, a senior majoring in education administration at The University of Toledo, was the February 2011 Jefferson Awards honoree in recognition of his volunteer work on and off campus.

During his four years at UT, Urbanski has participated in Relay for Life, Toys for Tots, Dance Marathon, Adopt a Highway and Strike Out Hunger. He walked for 18 hours to help find a cure for cancer, cleaned up trash along the Toledo highways, donated toys to the Toledo Children’s Hospital, and danced for muscular dystrophy.

In 2008, Urbanski took on the role of philanthropy chair for his fraternity, Sigma Alpha Epsilon. During that time, he organized Strike Out Hunger, which raised more than $2,000 to sponsor a child in Honduras.

In the summer prior to coordinating Strike Out Hunger, he went on a mission trip to Honduras, where he spent 10 days digging a ditch for a new water line, painted houses, and built a fence.

“Although the trip was very rewarding, the thing I remember most is interacting with the kids,” Urbanski said.

This mission trip was his second; the first trip he took was during high school in summer 2006 when he went to an economically distressed area of the Appalachian Mountains.

“Volunteering allows me to see what other parts of the world are like. You can’t put a price tag on that,” he said.

Urbanski plans to work in a school environment, starting off as a high school math teacher and eventually working his way to principal, which would allow him to have the summers off to volunteer.

“I think more people would volunteer if they had the time and money,” he said. “I’m fortunate that I have both to offer someone else.”

He said that the faculty and staff at his high school, St. Francis de Sales, instilled in him the need and will to volunteer.

Urbanski said he was honored to receive the Jefferson Award.

“I was shocked,” he said. “There are so many people at UT that have done a lot, so for me to be recognized is awesome.”

If you know of an unsung hero who dedicates his or her time to volunteering and community service, be sure to submit a nomination for the Jefferson Awards. Go to or on Facebook at

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