Vol State Student from Haiti Wins Statewide Service Award
Submitted on May 01, 2012 at 9:00 AM
Jean Bildad Michel received his VISA to study in the United States on the morning of Tuesday, January 12, 2010. Just a few hours later his country of Haiti was hit by a devastating 7.0 magnitude earthquake. Friends and classmates perished in the quake. His sister was severely injured. He stayed at her side for days waiting for medical help. Michel did manage to make it to the United States to attend school at Volunteer State Community College and now the White House student has been awarded the Harold M. Love Community Service Award by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission. It's awarded to just a few college students in Tennessee.
"I went back to Haiti after being in the United States for a while and I couldn't even sleep," said Michel. "There was so much that needed to be done."
Michel took action and enlisted help from friends, supporters and students in Tennessee. He worked with First Baptist Church of White House and other donors across the country to build a school in Haiti. It started out as nothing more than a tent and a teacher, and has grown to include several teachers, staff and a building for nearly 400 students. Kimberley Reed-Bracey was Michel's sponsor in the U.S. and the force behind getting him to America. He calls her his American Mom.
"He's so humble. He gives all credit to God," Reed-Bracey said. "He's one of the only people I have met in my life who doesn't get caught up in the ego thing."
Michel works with friends in Haiti on a mission that was actually started before the Earthquake. Through the "Prosperity of God Mission" they provide English classes and other services in his village. White House First Baptist Church recently held a 5K run to collect funds for an upcoming Haitian mission trip. They have joined with churches across the country to provide a range of support, all focused on empowering Haitians to help themselves. Michel has also worked on aid efforts with the VISA international student association and the Collegiate Ministry student group at Vol State. They're sending sewing machines to Haiti to give women an opportunity to earn a living.
Michel is transferring to Cumberland University this summer to continue his education and pursue a very practical dream.
"I was the first person in my family to attend high school and college," said Michel. "I want to be a nurse to help my people with all of the issues they have there."
The individuals selected to receive recognition with the Harold M. Love Award represent the many dimensions of community service - volunteer work, public service, charitable service and leadership roles in community organizations. The students honored each year are chosen from colleges and universities across the state.
For information on how you can help with the Haitian relief efforts visit Prosperity of God Ministries on Facebook.
Pictured: Jean Bildad Michel with the people who operate the Haitian school and his American sponsor (left to right) Patrick Jean, Jean Bildad Michel, Kimberley Reed-Bracey, Charles Ricardo and Edith Joseph.
A service provided by the Office of Public Relations.