Spreading positivity in the world is a value Dr. John Strada exemplifies in his daily life at Eastern Kentucky University and beyond. The communication professor was presented the Governor’s Lifetime Achievement Service Award from Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear and the Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) in recognition of Strada’s lifelong commitment to volunteerism and community service.
“I believe that no one gets to where they are in life without the help of others,” Strada said. “Service is a way for me to give back, to do my part to return some of the good I have received in my life.”
Since arriving at EKU in the spring of 2004, Strada has accumulated more than 5,000 hours of service. He served as a Faculty Learning Partner for EKU’s Alternative Spring Break program from 2011-2015, where he led teams of students to New Orleans to rebuild homes destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. He has incorporated service learning into the classroom, encouraging students to plan and implement service projects for various local nonprofit organizations, including Hospice and Special Olympics. A group of students in 2013 implemented EKU’s inaugural “Power of Maroon” day, a collaboration with the city of Richmond to boost EKU spirit within the community.
“I am so pleased that the Governor’s Office wanted to recognize John for his leadership in service,” said Ginny Whitehouse, ICCA School of Communication director. “He guides students to succeed so they can be leaders in their home communities across the state. The good that his students can do ripples even farther out from there.”
Strada knows what motivates students to serve is as individual as the person. He strives to provide a variety of avenues and multiple reasons to encourage students to prioritize service.
“By offering students opportunities and encouragement to serve where they are, in a manner that meets their motivations, they are more likely to give service a chance,” Strada said. “I feel that once an individual sees what a difference their service can make, it will always play a role in their life.”
Strada is a lifetime member of Alpha Phi Omega, a national co-ed service fraternity. He has served the organization in multiple capacities throughout the years, including his current role as chapter adviser for the EKU group and Region I chair. He travels across the country for the organization, presenting workshops at student conferences and leadership development events.
Active in the community, he is a former president of EKU’s Toastmasters International Club and a former area director. He earned the prestigious Distinguished Toastmaster designation in 2013, given to only one percent of members. He also is a member of Omicron Delta Kappa, the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, Phi Kappa Phi, and the Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels.
In 2017, he was recognized with the President’s Lifetime Volunteer Service Award, presented by the Office of the President of the United States.
The governor’s office launched the service awards program in 1975. Serve Kentucky, an agency within the CHFS, now coordinates the annual awards. This year, 15 individuals and 13 groups were recognized for their service.
Strada’s goal in serving others is to meet needs, solve problems, and pay positivity forward. It’s not to stack his shelves full of awards and accolades.
“My initial reaction was that of denial — knowing the number of amazing people and groups that provide service all over the state of Kentucky, I never envisioned that I might be considered for an award like this,” he said. “I feel greatly honored and humbled to be recognized.”