VILLANOVA, Pa. – Villanova University’s Center for Peace and Justice Education has announced the selection of Jay Tighe ’13 VSB (Poughkeepsie, N.Y.), as the recipient of the 2013 Thomas J. Mentzer Award. The annual award honors a graduating Villanova senior who contributed significantly, through service, to "expanding opportunities for the poor and marginalized."
A Presidential Scholar at Villanova, Tighe double majored in Economics and International Business. He studied abroad twice while at Villanova, going to London as a freshman and teaching English at a community center in Argentina as a junior. During his freshman year, Tighe also interned at a human rights nonprofit that encourages investments and creates jobs in Africa.
In 2011, Tighe joined a group of Villanova students to establish the Student-Run Emergency Housing Unit of Philadelphia (SREHUP), a student-led non-profit that provides shelter, food and community to homeless individuals in Philadelphia. His peers later elected him executive director, a position in which he trained over 200 volunteers in cultural sensitivity and awareness to work with the homeless population.
Tighe’s hands-on work with SREHUP guests gave him an understanding of the myriad of pathways into homelessness, and the structural barriers in place which make it difficult to climb out of homelessness. He could have been content with the work he did to improve the lives of those at SREHUP shelters. But rather than rest, Tighe engaged in work to improve the plight of all people living on the streets – by advocating for policy change on issues related to ending homelessness, such as education reform, job creation, and fair housing initiates.
In 2012, Tighe attended the prestigious Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) Meeting, moderated by President Clinton. CGI U brings together approximately 1,000 students from all over the world, along with nonprofit leaders, entrepreneurs and celebrities engaged in efforts to create positive change.
The Mentzer Award remembers Thomas J. Mentzer, a 1955 Villanova graduate who later became a faculty member in the University’s History Department. He was active in many of the social issues of the time, including work to oppose racial conflict and segregation. Mentzer died in an automobile accident in 1967. Click here for more information on the award.
About Villanova University: Since 1842, Villanova University’s Augustinian Catholic intellectual tradition has been the cornerstone of an academic community in which students learn to think critically, act compassionately and succeed while serving others. There are more than 10,000 undergraduate, graduate and law students in the University's five colleges – the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Villanova School of Business, the College of Engineering, the College of Nursing and the Villanova University School of Law. As students grow intellectually, Villanova prepares them to become ethical leaders who create positive change everywhere life takes them.