Award program set up to honor J. Christopher Stevens

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The campus is in the process of establishing an award fund in memory of J. Christopher Stevens — an effort to carry on the legacy of the U.S. ambassador to Libya who was killed in an attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, last month.

Called the J. Christopher Stevens Public Service Award, the fund — administered through the campus’s Cal Corps Public Service Center — will be given to students interning at various NGOs, the U.S. State Department and nonprofit organizations, among other groups, through the Cal in the Capital program.

“We hope that it will be an excellent program to get people involved in public service, which is something that my brother had dedicated his life to,” said Thomas Stevens, Stevens’ brother and an assistant U.S. attorney. “The outpouring of support from the Cal community has been particularly significant — it’s terrific and very fitting for what my brother stood for.”

Megan Voorhees, director of the Cal Corps center, said that the award is still in the very early planning stages and that the campus has not yet begun raising money. But the campus has set up a fund to receive gifts in honor of Stevens’ memory, according to a Sept. 28 press release. Voorhees said she hopes that the campus can start distributing the awards to students for the summer 2013 session of Cal in the Capital.

“There’s no money for it right now — that is still in the works,” Voorhees said. “This would be a great way to both honor the ambassador and really create a larger program for the students who get the award by giving them a more extensive experience with Cal in the Capital.”

The awards will be given to students with financial need to assist with living and travel expenses in Washington, D.C., according to Voorhees.

George Zeno, who leads the fundraising efforts for campus awards as the executive director of development in the campus division of student affairs, said he plans to fund the award entirely through donations from Cal alumni.

“The goal is to create an endowment to be in perpetuity so that it will always be there as a legacy for the ambassador,” Zeno said. “So Cal students now and in the future will have the opportunity to go and explore the field of public service.”

Zeno said that he hopes to raise more than $50,000 in funds but that the window to get donations is short because “you only get so many weeks before people move on.”

Still, Thomas Stevens is optimistic that the award will inspire students to follow in the footsteps of his brother.

“It doesn’t have to be only for people interested in foreign service,” Stevens said. “There’s a bigger concept than that, which is public service in general — doing things to help your country and to help people understand each other better.”

J. Christopher Stevens graduated from UC Berkeley in 1982 and from the UC Hastings College of the Law in 1989. A native northern California resident, Stevens also attended Piedmont High School and was a member of the UC Berkeley chapter of the fraternity Alpha Tau Omega.

Contact Andy Nguyen at [email protected].