June 5, 2018


Cody and DJ with their awards


MSU Billings students awarded President’s Volunteer Service Award

Brothers Cody Walters and DJ McGee receive award for volunteering



University Communications and Marketing, 657-2266


MSU BILLINGS NEWS SERVICES —Two students at Montana State University Billings have been awarded the President’s Volunteer Service Award. Brothers Cody Walters and DJ McGee have received the prestigious honor. For their awards, each received a certificate and letter of congratulations from President Donald Trump, with Walters receiving a medallion and McGee receiving a lapel pin.


Walters volunteered for over 120 hours in the adult division, earning a bronze award for his efforts. McGee also earned a bronze award for his 100 hours of service in the young adult category.


Walters began volunteering through Student Support Services TRIO at MSU Billings as a chemistry tutor last fall. In this position, he logged 40 volunteer hours that contributed to his award. He then became employed in the Academic Support Center as a general chemistry tutor, or Supplemental Instructor (SI). However, students wanted him to help them outside the time he was providing through this positon. Walters talked to the professor he was assisting and received permission to do private tutoring in chemistry, which allowed him to volunteer for another 83 hours.


“I do well in my courses and it feels good when I get A’s and I want to help others do well in their courses and have the same feeling that I get,” Walters said on why he has been helping other students. “I really enjoy helping people and want to save them time and frustration on chemistry with tips and shortcuts I wish someone had shown me.”


To fulfill his minimum of 100 hours needed to receive the award, McGee hosted and sponsored a food drive and a clothing drive. The food received during the drive went to the Yellowstone Emergency Pantry at MSU Billings while clothing collected went to St. Vincent DePaul. Over 10 garbage bags of clothing were donated during the drive. McGee also was a volunteer for SSS TRIO, donating his time to help tutor students in psychology and chemistry. He also helped with the Atomic Circus that the science department hosted this spring and at the Billings South Park clean-up.


McGee already plans on continuing to give back to his community. “I plan to continue volunteering with the Billings Public Library to read to kids this fall. I do a food drive in the spring, coat drive in the fall, and am adding reading to kids this year.” 


McGee and Walters were both nominated for the award by Cheyenne Smith, their sister who was previously honored with the President’s Volunteer Services Award. McGee notes that his sister was the one who motivated him to volunteer, stating “she’s in the military and known for volunteering. I want to follow in her footsteps because she’s inspiring and I want to make her proud.”


Criteria for receiving this award involves being a United States citizen or a permanent resident, volunteer service, and performing service with an approved organization over a 12-month period.


Awards are broken down into gold, silver, and bronze, and the required hours needed to receive the award is broken down into age groups and families and groups categories (which consist of two or more people contributing a minimum of 25 hours of volunteer work toward the total). The highest possible award in the program is the President’s Lifetime Achievement Award, which is awarded to individuals who have completed a minimum of 4,000 hours throughout their life.


The President’s Volunteer Service Award was originally created under the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation in 2003. Today, the program is overseen by the Corporation for National and Community Service and is managed by Points of Light.

For more information about the President’s Volunteer Service Award or to register to track your own volunteer hours, please click here.


Since the creation of the program, 1.5 million volunteers have been recognized through 28,000 Certifying Organizations through all 50 states, Puerto Rico and U.S. Territories (states the Points of Light website).


Walters and McGee were both excited and honored to receive the award and hope this will encourage others to give back to the community as well. Walters shared “I don’t think about it [volunteering], it just comes naturally. I’ll continue helping science students as though it’s part of my job, I just don’t get paid for it.” McGee added “We’re really happy to get these awards, and be recognized for our volunteer service. I hope others are inspired to make a difference in their community. A few hours can truly make a difference in a person’s life, changing it for the better.”