The Congressional Award recognizes young people between the ages of 14 and 23 who set and achieve personally challenging goals in four areas. To earn the Silver Medal, a participant must contribute a minimum of 200 hours of service to his or her community, spend an additional 200 hours working toward personal development and physical fitness goals and undertake an expedition/exploration activity of at least four consecutive overnights.
Maria DeOliveira has earned The Congressional Award Silver Medal—the United States Congress' highest award for youth. Maria is one of only 309 Silver Medalists out of over 2900 active participants in the state of New Jersey, which has the largest number of participants in the nation. Maria also joins the prestigious ranks of fellow nationwide Silver Medal recipients. Her work exemplifies the spirit of the Congressional Award: service to others; personal development; initiative and achievement.
Maria has a willingness to give of herself to voluntarily help others in her community. She excels in whatever activities she pursues, having demonstrated valuable goal setting and achieving skills. Maria has participated in numerous charity events throughout the year. Ursinus College is a small liberal arts school situated outside of Philadelphia; Maria works as a Resident Advisor, to help build strong, safe, healthy communities. Maria also serves as an English as a second language tutor for the custodial staff at Ursinus College. This is important to her because her grandparents immigrated to the United States from Portugal and did not speak any English. They had to learn English from other people.
During the fall semester Maria enrolled in a Management class. Part of the class requirement included creating a non-profit organization to raise money for an underprivileged high school student. Maria did that for her class; however, she also held several raffle drawings, solicited donations from local stores, and worked closely within the community to generate donations.
In addition, she is involved in the annual Relay For Life event at Ursinus. This provides an opportunity to work with a team to develop, organize, and execute a successful event. She has served as a committee chair for the last three years. Last year's Relay raised over $39,000 and was recognized as the "Number One per capita college under 9,999 students," at the Youth Summit for colleges and high schools. She has already had several meetings to plan this year's Relay for Life and is so excited for the 2008 event!