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Presidential Medallions Awarded for Service to Students

March 27, 2024
Presidential Medallion Winners

It started in 2021 when Isrrael Rodriguez, outreach pastor at Deer Flat Church in Caldwell, asked a simple question.

“What can we do to help?”

Three years later, that simple gesture led to the church, along with three other groups, being awarded the Presidential Medallion by The College of Idaho.

“We met a student in 2021, she was from my home country, and she invited me to the College over spring break,” said Rodriguez, who is from Venezuela. “We noticed a need in the community that we could be a part of with this feeding program.”

Rodriguez reached out to Aisha Reed ‘00 in Student Affairs and Chapo DeLaCruz ‘09, the College’s Assistant Director of Inclusion and Intercultural Engagement, to ask that question. The group met and outlined ways that the church could help the College’s student body, from basic needs to the school’s food pantry, which helps feed students, particularly over school breaks. Rodriguez took that list and invited others in the Caldwell community to join them.

“He came through,” Reed said. “He showed up one day with bags of groceries and he just kept coming through.”

The initial donations have grown to include food-truck service, serving meals to the campus community free of charge during school breaks. During spring break this week, it’s estimated that they are serving 130 meals each day.

“I said, ‘let’s provide some food for all,’” Rodriguez recalled. “Not just the students. Whoever is on campus and in need of a meal.”

Reed says the engagement with the campus community has continued to grow. Pots and pans have been donated for students to use along with other items for dorms. Host families have been established to give international students support. They’ve included students in activities like horseback riding and even given driving lessons.

Deer Flat Church was one of four institutions whose contributions were recognized with medallions. Ustick Road Church of the Nazarene, International Students, Inc., and Iglesia Damasco also received a Presidential Medallion from the College. The initial announcement was made at a home basketball game earlier this year but the medallions themselves were presented by Jim Everett and Doug Brigham ‘87, the College’s co-presidents, along with a group of students on Wednesday.

“It’s been wonderful to see how many churches in the Caldwell community have jumped in and said, ‘we want to help, what can we do?’” Reed continued. “They’ve just come together and united for the love of the students here on campus.”

Rodriguez proudly held his medallion as students walked by to grab their lunch, saying there is already a spot set aside at his church to display the award.

“This is not just for me,” he said. “This is for the volunteers who are part of this and I believe this has encouraged others to be a part of what is going on.”

The College of Idaho has a 133-year-old legacy of excellence. The College is known for its outstanding academic programs, winning athletics tradition, and history of producing successful graduates, including eight Rhodes Scholars, three governors, and countless business leaders and innovators. Its distinctive PEAK Curriculum challenges students to attain competency in the four knowledge peaks of humanities, natural sciences, social sciences, and a professional field—empowering them to earn a major and three minors in four years. The College’s close-knit, residential campus is located in Caldwell, where its proximity both to Boise and to the world-class outdoor activities of southwest Idaho’s mountains and rivers offers unique opportunities for learning beyond the classroom. For more information, visit