UMES' Harcum wins 2013 Jefferson Award

  • Tuesday, December 11, 2012

    Clifton H. Harcum - 2013 Jefferson Award winner

    Clifton H. Harcum

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    PRINCESS ANNE, MD. - (Dec. 11, 2012) - Clifton H. Harcum, author, mentor, UMES alumnus and employee, is the winner of a 2013 Jefferson Award, an honor bestowed across the country on "ordinary people doing extraordinary things without expectation of recognition or reward."

    Harcum learned he won the honor during a motivational talk he recently gave to eighth-graders at Washington High School ini Princess Anne where a television crew from WBOC showed up.

    "I was shocked at the whole thing," Harcum, 29, said. "I didn't know what was happening. My first thought was they were there to do a story about the kids."

    The Salisbury TV station is a local partner with the American Institute for Public Service, which has been handing out awards named for President Thomas Jefferson since 1972. The late Jackie Kennedy was instrumental in forming the organization to recognize selfless people on the frontline of community service.

    Beginning the week of Jan. 6, a segment capturing a surprised Harcum being told he is a Jefferson winner will air on WBOC news programs and will continue through Jan. 12.

    Past Jefferson Award winners include Gen. Colin Powell, President Jimmy Carter, Arthur Ashe, Paul Newman and Walter Cronkite. Harcum is among 16 people in the WBOC viewing area chosen to receive the local honor and is a candidate to represent Delmarva when the national-level Jefferson Award is announced in 2013.

    The Baltimore-area native is among UMES' most visible and entrepreneurial employees.

    In November, Harcum and a residence life colleague, Phillip Thomas, spearheaded the collection of food that provided 900 needy families on the lower Eastern Shore with a Thanksgiving meal. It was the food drive's fourth year.

    He and Thomas also are the energy behind Generating Realistic Achievement of Success and Possibilities, more commonly known as G.R.A.S.P. They describe its mission as a community outreach and development organization that they work on in their spare time.G.R.A.S.P. organized college fairs promoting UMES this fall for parents and students at Somerset County's two public high schools, and it also mobilized student-volunteers to participate in a town-gown community clean-up project in September.

    "I feel it's important to encourage development," Harcum said. "No matter where you come from, you can always push yourself to the limit. (G.R.A.S.P.) is about challenging ourselves."

    While honored by the Jefferson recognition, Harcum also said "it's a bittersweet thing for me."

    "Phil and I really work hard equally on our projects," he said. "He deserves credit, too."

    In the past year, Harcum has written a motivational book - "Passion: Making the Impossible Possible," and he and his wife have welcomed a son - Clifton Harvey Harcum Jr. The couple also has a daughter, Trinity.