Barnhill Civic Trailblazer Award

Created in 2011 to honor John H. Barnhill, the founding executive director of North Carolina Campus Compact, the Barnhill Civic Trailblazer Award is given to ONE  student from the statewide network. Nominees — one per campus — must be undergraduate students in their final year. The Civic Trailblazer should demonstrate innovation in civic engagement, work to integrate their service into campus structures, inspire others to serve, and make a meaningful impact on campus or community.

Winners receive a framed certificate and are recognized on stage at the CSNAP Student Conference and in the program in even-numbered years. In odd-numbered years, there is an online virtual ceremony. The Compact prepares a press release highlighting their accomplishments.

2021 Recipient
Aigné Taylor, North Carolina A & T State University 

We recognized the 2021 Barnhill Civic Trailblazer during a virtual “Engagement Matters” Student Awards Ceremony on November 5, 2021.  You can hear her thoughts on the question “Why should college students be civically engaged?” at the end of the ceremony video. View the video.

She will receive the award in-person during the Presidents Forum on February 9, 2022 at High Point University.


The Trailblazer Award winner must demonstrate:

• Creativity and innovation to start or deepen campus efforts to address community issues
• Long-term leadership that inspires others to engage
• Effort to integrate their work into campus structures in a sustainable way
• Evidence of tangible and meaningful impact on campus or community


2019 recipient, Neariah Mandisa-Drummond, UNC Charlotte (pictured with Barnhill)
  • Nominee must be an undergraduate student in his/her final year at a member campus
  • Can be current nominees or former winners of the Community Impact Student Award
  • Each member campus may submit only one nominee
  • Both nominators and nominees must attend the CSNAP student conference  (even-numbered years) or the PACE conference (odd-numbered years)
  • Campuses are encouraged to have a special awards presentation on their campus


  • Nominations open the second week in August. The deadline is the first week in October.
  • Faculty or Staff member completes online nomination form.
  • Nominator submits letter(s) of support on office letterhead to nccc {at} elon(.)edu as well as the nominees resume.
  • Nominator submits print-quality headshot image (300 dpi or larger) of student as .jpeg or .png file to nccc {at} elon(.)edu

NOTE: Nominators may tell student that he/she has been nominated for this award. NC Campus Compact will inform all nominators of the selected winner.

Past Trailblazers

Click on the Trailblazer’s name to learn more.

2020Brian Thompson, Warren Wilson College
2019Neariah Mandisa-Drummond, UNC Charlotte
2018 – Zaynah Afada, Guilford College
2017Brian Wuertz, Warren Wilson College
2016 – Jenny Fukunaga, Elon University
2015 – Kate Gatterdam, Queens University of Charlotte
2014 – Aaron Marshall, Western Carolina University
2013 – Amanda Moore, Appalachian State University
2012 – Rachel Stanley, Elon University
2011 – Morgan Abbott, UNC-Chapel Hill and Sam Williams, Appalachian State University


John Barnhill entered college with a passion for service and a commitment to sharing that passion. While a student at Elon University, John co-founded the campus’s Habitat for Humanity chapter and Elon Volunteers! (EV!), a student community service group. Today, Elon’s Habitat chapter is one of the most active in the country, fundraising and building one house every year; and EV! includes 150 student leaders who engage peers in more than 100,000 hours of service annually through a host of local, national, and international volunteer projects.

After graduation, John kept working to develop student leadership through service, becoming Elon’s first staff service coordinator. Under his leadership, the Office of Volunteer Programs became the endowed, nationally- recognized
Kernodle Center for Service Learning and Community Engagement. As one administrator shared, “John created the student leadership model for Elon, focusing students’ passions for service in productive ways to address community

In 1993 John broadened his vision by helping to form North Carolina Campus Volunteers (NCCV), a statewide coalition of students and staff that strengthened college volunteerism across the state. NCCV held the student conference which would later become CSNAP. When NC Campus Compact was formed in 2002, John became its founding executive director and the conference became a Compact event. During his four years in the executive director role, John worked with many campuses to build their civic engagement infrastructure. Today, John is the Associate Vice President for University Advancement at Elon.