Kent State nursing student receives Congressional Award from Congressman

Congressman Tim Ryan awards Austin Croft with the Congressional Award Silver Medal.

Nate Burtzlaff

Kent State junior Austin Croft received the Congressional Award Silver Medal during an event at Henderson Hall on Tuesday. 

He was presented the award by Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan.

Croft, a nursing major, was recognized for his outstanding community service, personal development, fitness level and exploration skills.  

“Austin represents the very best of Kent State and the Kent State Nursing Program,” Ryan said.

Croft originally found out about the award from a friend in high school.

“We were talking about community service we do, and he said, ‘You do a lot of community service, this would be a great award for you,’” Croft said. “So I found out more about it, and set out for it.”

To qualify for a Bronze, Silver or Gold Congressional Award certificate or medal, one must set and achieve goals in four areas: Voluntary public service, personal development, physical fitness and expedition/exploration. The level of certificate or medal received is based on how many hours one achieves in these four areas.

Croft volunteered more than 300 hours of his time to the community by working at Cleveland Clinic Akron General, where he helped transport patients and assisted doctors and nurses. He also raised $200 for the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

“I got a humbling experience out of it,” Croft said. “I got to see a lot of people, sometimes not in the best condition because they’re ill; but just being able to brighten their day by talking to them and seeing how much that can really impact somebody is special.”

For his personal development, he worked as a lifeguard at a summer camp and taught merit badges in kayaking and fishing. 

Croft also sang for his church choir every Sunday for four years.

For physical fitness, Croft wanted to become better at wrestling. He practiced daily and joined intramural teams for wrestling, flag football, dodgeball, volleyball and basketball.

Finally, for exploration/expedition, Croft travelled to the MAPS Air Museum in Green, Ohio to learn more about aviation.

“This award honestly just means a lot to me just to know that I was able to achieve it,” Croft said. “It’s like a lesson for life to be able to work through something hard and achieve it.”

Croft is still figuring out exactly what he wants to do in the nursing industry post-college, but said he might one day like to be a flight nurse.

Nate Burtzlaff is the grad students and research and transportation reporter. Contact him at [email protected].