Gold Medal Winner!

becky sanders

Name: Rebecca Sanders '13
Hometown: River Edge, NJ
Primary Service Sites:

  • Waltham Group Afternoon Enrichment
  • Waltham Group Tutoring in Public Schools
  • French Cultural Center of Boston
  • English Language Learning Initiative

"My time at Brandeis would not have been the same without my volunteer experiences. Volunteering has allowed me to be engaged in the community, to interact with many different people, and to think about the world in new ways. My community service efforts have been primarily concentrated in education, and my experiences have led me to pursue a career working in the field of education. I am confident that my community service experiences at Brandeis have helped define my career path. This program is a great way to realize how much service you actually do. The hours often add up without you even realizing it. Counting the hours helps you see that making time for service among all your other obligations is worth it, and can actually have a significant impact. Additionally, it is great to have a tangible number of hours to tell potential employers or to put on a resume."

Click here for more testimonies from award recipients from the class of 2013!

Silver Medal Winner!

lauren grewal

Name: Lauren Grewal '13
Hometown:Wellesley, MA
Primary Service Site:

  • Waltham Group SPECTRUM

"Being a Waltham Group Coordinator and being a founder of a community service initiative has taught me so much and truly impacted my Brandeis experience. Not only do I know that I can handle the pressures of running a program but that I am truly passionate about working with people who have special needs. I think for me, I knew the passion was already there but knowing I have the capability to not only help people in the community, but teach others the skills to work with this community is incredibly rewarding and valuable. I have realized just how much I enjoy teaching others and how much pleasure I derive from not only doing service for the outside community, but for my community within Brandeis. It makes me feel like I’m connected to something greater than myself. Being in a college setting I think can make some people feel like they are in a bubble (hence the term Brandeis Bubble for example) but for me, I’ve never felt that way. I love being connected to other people and to know about real struggles and stories. So for me, my volunteer work has kept me in touch and motivated to keep trying to help others rather than get stuck in my own daily problems as there is always someone else who can use some help."

Click here for more testimonies from award recipients from the class of 2013!

Bronze Medal Winner!

sam gorelik

Name: Samuel Gorelik '15
Hometown: Sharon, MA
Primary Service Sites:

  • Massachusetts Commission for the Blind
  • United Against Inequities in Disease
  • Camp Stepping Stones

"By volunteering in Waltham, I was able to become more connected with the Waltham community. I grew as a person because I learned more about the struggles that people deal with due to disabilities, lack of access to healthcare, and...traumatic events in their lives....Volunteering allows for people to help one another. I always wanted to have a positive impact on people who I meet and my volunteering experiences allow me to do that."

Award Program FAQs

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General Program Information

Why should I participate?

Serving will afford you the opportunity to explore careers, apply course work, fulfill personal values and develop meaningful relationships while deepening your roots in our community.  Your participation in this program will provide you with quantifiable hours and real-life scenarios for graduate school and job applications as well as the prestige of noting the honor and award on your resume. We are positive that, when coupled with reflection, participation in this program will prove valuable. Your participation will also aid the larger mission of quantifying and summarizing the impact that the collective community at Brandeis makes, which helps us achieve funding as well as set future goals and standards. Your participation will also help Brandeis to fulfill its Mission and Diversity statements.

What are the three tiers of the Commitment to Service Award?

Bronze- Documenting of 300 hours of service

Silver - Documenting of 600 hours of service

Gold - Documenting of 900 hours of service

What does the award include?

Your Commitment to Service Award will include a certificate from administration and a memorable medal keepsake. Your name will also be listed on the Department of Community Service Website. 

Should I document participation in the Commitment to Service program on my resume?

Yes, we strongly encourage you to meet with a Hiatt advisor to best represent this opportunity on your resume and during interviews.

Requirements for Participating

What is required of me to participate in the program?
  • Complete online registration in Sage.
  • Complete and document community service hours regularly (at least monthly) in Sage.
  • Submit a brief reflection essay
  • Commitment to Community Service Pledge
  • Complete a Community Service Waiver and CORI form (if required)
What is the Community Service Pledge?

The community service pledge represents an ongoing commitment to represent Brandeis as an agent of the institution during your service work in the community. The pledge reminds you that participation and the tracking of hours for the Commitment to Service Award is founded on trust and honesty to ensure its prestige and success. The pledge is inspiring in its nature, but also grounded in Brandeis University’s Rights and Responsibilities.

Is the reflective essay mandatory to complete the program?

Yes, written reflection is a powerful way to document your learning and enhance your service experience. We encourage you to complete this reflection at any point during your experience where you felt the greatest amount of development. Please do not save this to the very end.

Am I required to attend the Celebration of Service to receive my award?

You are not required to attend the event; however, we hope that you will make arrangements to be recognized for your contributions and celebrate both you and many members of our community.

Do I need a reference to participate in the program?

No, the program is open to all undergraduate students who commit to the five award requirements.

Do I have to complete a Community Service Volunteer Waiver?

Yes, if you are not volunteering as part of a Community-Engaged Learning course then a volunteer waiver is required for all community service projects. If you are unsure if you need to complete a waiver please contact the Department of Community Service staff.

If I graduate early do I need to complete the same number of hours to receive the award?

Yes, the requirements remain the same if you choose to graduate early.

If I am a mid-year, do I need to complete the same number of hours to receive the award?

Yes, the requirements remain the same for mid-year students. If you participate in a Brandeis approved program prior to arriving to campus in January, the direct service hours can be included with the submission of an hours verification letter.

Questions about Logging Hours

How do I log and track my volunteer hours?

The process is rather simple. You simply log into Sage after each service opportunity (or at least each month).  Only hours logged in the official system will be approved. All hours should be logged in decimals and rounded to the nearest 15 minutes.

Should I track hours related to transportation and reflection?

Yes, we understand the importance of both in your community engagement and permit all students to track up to a combined total of 15 hours of reflection and transportation per semester.

Do my community service hours during the summer count toward this program?

If you are enrolled as a Brandeis student then yes, hours from volunteering over the summer can count toward the program. All hours must adhere to the approved community service standards.

Can I include my community service hours while abroad?

Yes, if you are in an approved study abroad program then your hours abroad can count. Please continue to document your hours while abroad on an ongoing basis.

If I am a transfer student can the hours I completed at my previous institution count for part of this program?

Yes, these hours can count, but you must have a staff advisor from your previous institution submit a letter on official letterhead documenting your community service hours. A hard copy of this letter can be mailed to Kelly Whiffen, Brandeis University, 415 South St. MS 203, Waltham, MA 02453 or emailed to

What if I am completing service with an organization that does not have an affiliation with Brandeis or is not already in the SAGE system?
If as a volunteer you are representing yourself as a Brandeis student, although not through a structured Brandeis program, then yes, you can count these hours if you are enrolled in courses at Brandeis University. Be advised that if Brandeis is unfamiliar with the organization we reserve the right to contact your volunteer site supervisor. Students are able to add projects directly on to SAGE. However it is required that all requested fields are fully filled out (contact info, description of service, volunteer supervisor etc.) so that the project can be approved as legitimate service hours. Before you add a project, be sure to check that it is not already an existing project in the system!
Do community service hours completed prior to enrolling in the program count toward my award?

Community service hours completed prior to enrolling do not count toward the program. The only exception to this is if you are a first year student and have hours to log from VolunteerFest. 

When can I add add my hours into SAGE?

At this time students cannot count these hours in the Commitment to Service Award program. Service that only impacts the University does not count towards the CTSA award program.

What is the hours verification letter?

If you are transferring to Brandeis and would like to count hours completed at a previous institution, a staff member from your previous institution/immersion program/volunteer site must submit a letter on official letterhead documenting your community service hours. A hard copy of this letter can be mailed to Kelly Whiffen, Brandeis University, 415 South St. MS 203, Waltham, MA 02453 or emailed to

Questions about which Types of Activities Count Toward the Program

Can I count hours spent on interfaith work? How about the Brandeis Peace Vigil?

Interfaith hours can count; however, hours spent at the Peace Vigil cannot.

Can my volunteer hours for on-campus events and leadership positions be included (Fall Fest, OL, committee work, etc.?

Once you register, you will be able to begin tracking your hours. It's important that you log hours regularly, as you will only have access to enter hours for the current semester. The date range within which you can enter hours for each semester are listed below for your convenience:

Fall 2015: August 25-December 31
Spring 2016: January 1-May 15
Summer 2016: May 16-August 24
If you do forget to record your hours in SAGE, or if you have hours from previous semesters that were never logged (but you kept track of them another way), e-mail and they can be added to your record as long as they occurred after you registered.
Can I track my hours spent fundraising?

Yes, you can count your hours spent fundraising for a non-profit or community organization. There are limitations to the amount of hours that can count in the Commitment to Service Award program so please email if you have questions about your particular situation. As an example, if you are in a dance performance group and are donating final performance proceeds to a non-profit, you are able to count the FINAL rehearsal and performance, but not every rehearsal.

Can I count hours from my advocacy work or club membership?

Students are permitted to count hours for advocacy-related activities that fall within the purview of the Brandeis University Mission and Diversity Statements. In particular any advocacy-related activity must align with the values of  inclusivity, civility, diversity, respect, and safety. Any activities that are hateful, overtly disrespectful, or discriminatory in nature will not count towards this program. Additionally, hours for advocacy-related activities must extend beyond the Brandeis community.

If I am participating in an unpaid internship at a non-profit or community site, can I count these hours?

The current structure of the program does not permit you to directly count all of your hours at these sites; however, if you think that you have extenuating circumstances we requests that you email The Commitment to Service Program Coordinator will then send you an internship request form where you can outline your internship responsibilities. Your request will then be reviewed by a small committee. Approval is granted on a case by case basis.

Can I count hours spent working on a research project?
Hours spent working on a research project under all academic disciplines (biology, psychology, history, etc.) do not count towards the CTSA program. If students feel that they have an exception, they may email
Can I count hours spent volunteering with my place of worship or a faith-based organization?
Students may count hours for religious education (i.e. teaching Sunday School or Hebrew School) or volunteering at your place of worship. Activities must fall within the domain of the Brandeis University Mission and Diversity Statements. In particular any religious related activity must align with the values of inclusivity, civility, diversity, respect, and safety.
Can I count hours spent campaigning for a political candidate or political party?
Hours spent campaigning in support of a particular candidate or political party do not count towards the CTSA program.