A Dixie State University student's passion for service has translated into recognition from his mentors, peers and more recently, a regional association of universities and colleges.
McKinney, Dixie State University Student Association vice president of service and junior mathematics major from St. George, received recognition for his devotion to service when he was awarded the Western Region Campus Compact Engaged Student Award. He received his award April 7 in Denver.
“Every year they recognize a student for outstanding community engagement within their community,” McKinney said. “They thought I was honorable enough for the work I’ve done here in St. George and Dixie to be bestowed upon that award.”
The Western Region of the Campus Compact is an association of universities and colleges from California, the Hawaiian Islands, Montana, the Mountain West, Oregon, Utah and Washington.
Nancy Hauck, associate provost for community and global engagement at Dixie State University, nominated McKinney for the award.
“We talked about students who were deserving of it, and Dillon’s name came up,” Hauck said. “I have worked with him, [since] he was the vice president for service at Dixie State. I thought that was a great choice, so we wrote letters of recommendation. I asked president [President Biff] Williams to do so as well.”
McKinney said he was surprised to win the award.
“It’s a tremendous honor, honestly,” McKinney said. “Just to be nominated was such a huge honor. I didn’t think I was going to win.”
McKinney said he found out he won through a forwarded email from the selections committee during the second week of the spring semester.
“Alexis Bucknam, the executive director of the Utah Campus Compact forwarded that [email, and said] 'Dillon, you won," McKinney said. "[I said]Wait, not just finalist or anything, I just straight-up won?”
He was asked to come to Denver for the award ceremony April 7.
Hauck said McKinney works on numerous service-oriented projects in his capacity at DSUSA and spends the majority of his time doing service work.
“He helps with non-profit community partners,” Hauck said. “He’s on the community engagement committee. He comes and helps with our plans for the Community Engagement Center at Dixie State. He also leads the students in service through DSUSA.”
Hauck said McKinney also established the student food pantry and works on the alternative breaks program where students do service-oriented work during the fall and spring breaks.
Hauck said McKinney was well-deserving of his award.
“He has a way of bringing people into service,” she said. “[He is] just humble, he’s caring towards the people he serves with and I think it motivates others to be involved in the projects that he does. He certainly doesn’t draw attention to himself, so it’s kind of fun to give an award to someone like that.”
McKinney does not mind starting projects from the ground up, Hauck said, adding that he is the first DSUSA vice president of service.
Hauck said McKinney winning the award was a big deal for DSU.
“It’s the first time we’ve had a student win an award like that, a regional, multi-state type of recognition in community engagement,” she said. “He was chosen out of all those states. It means that we [DSU] are moving forward in community engagement.”
Sarah Ramaker, student body president at DSU and a senior dance major from Midland, Michigan, said McKinney is a natural leader in service.
“I think service is in Dillon’s DNA,” she said. “He is constantly serving people, whether it’s in a service project or just opening a door for someone. I’m pretty sure he’s never walked through a door before anyone else in his entire life. It’s a part of who he is.”
McKinney said that service was second nature to him.
“I feel like it’s part of me to want to help others,” he said. “If it’s within my ability to make someone else’s day better or be able to help them pursue the things they want to pursue and I have the time to do that, that’s what I need to be doing. It just feels like that’s what I need to do.”
Ramaker said that while it is important for future service leaders to not compare themselves to McKinney, it was important they try to emulate his dedication service. Future vice presidents of service will thrive because of the foundation McKinney has established, she said.
“They will be able to build upon the legacy that he’s already made,” Ramaker said.
McKinney will remain vice president of service for another year.
McKinney said his advisers have said service is a double-edged sword. He dedicates so much time to putting forth his own energy serving that he sometimes forgets to step back and allow others to not only serve to help him as well. His goals for his final year as vice president of service include taking that step of allowing other to take larger roles.
“An important aspect of service — at least for me — not only is it the ability to serve others, but it is also being graceful enough to allow others to serve you as well,” he said. “Because if no one allowed people to serve them, service obviously wouldn’t exist.”