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LMU Riordan Service Award Winner Kept Stream of Volunteers Flowing

When Hunter Cressman ’09 realized there were too few tutors at the Mildred Cursh Foundation’s learning center in Venice, Calif., he knew just what to do. Cressman had the center added to the Ignatians’ list of volunteer assignments. Cressman was a member of the Ignatians service organization as a Loyola Marymount University undergraduate, as well as a volunteer at the learning center.

With that gesture, Cressman, who earned his B.S. in mechanical engineering, was able to ensure a steady stream of tutors for the Learning Companion Youth Project for low-income and disadvantaged children. That type of thoughtful service earned Cressman a 2009 Riordan Community Service Award from LMU.

“I have the greatest respect for individuals who commit their entire lives to serving others,” Cressman said. “Antoinette Reynolds [of the Mildred Cursh Foundation] is my tutor and mentor. … I hope one day to be as committed to service as she is.”

Six Riordan Community Service Awards are presented annually by LMU’s Center for Service and Action to recognize undergraduate students who exemplify the university’s tradition of being “men and women for and with others.”

Cressman said he occasionally felt frustration and doubt during the three years he volunteered at the center. But those moments dissipated in the face of the inspiring progress made by some of the students. He usually helped children with their homework, but he learned that being a child’s confidant was sometimes just as important. One child, in particular, broke through his shyness after much difficulty and made a lasting impression on Cressman. “He was unembarrassed by the attention he drew to himself and felt so proud for learning a very difficult song,” Cressman said. “Somehow my presence had given [him] the confidence to overcome his shyness and share his knowledge with me.”

After graduating in May, Cressman returned to San Francisco, his hometown, to begin building a career. But he said he knows that service will be an important part of his future.