Ryan Dwyer ’19 Wins Congressional Service Award


Ryan Dwyer '19 with Massachusetts Congressman Jim McGovern.

Graduating senior Ryan Dwyer just won a prestigious award for his devotion to bettering himself and the community.

On April 23, Ryan awarded with the Silver Congressional Medal.

The Congressional Award is, according to its website, “a fun and interesting way to get more involved in something you already enjoy or something you would like to try for the first time.”  The requirements for the awards are voluntary public service, personal development, physical fitness, and some type of expedition/exploration.

There are six levels of awards: bronze, silver, and gold certificates, and then bronze, silver, and gold medals. ” I’m at the fifth level,” said Ryan. For his silver medal, Ryan earned over 200 hours of community service.  “I need to do another 150 hours of community service before I get gold. I’m going to try to do it.”

When Ryan was in eighth grade, he read an article in The Willistonian about a senior who had received the gold medal Congressional Award and immediately knew he wanted to be involved.

“It’s not that tough to get involved in,” he said.  “They send you a log book and all your materials.  It’s very easy to do your writeup and submit it.  They’re very supportive.”

Ryan, who was a member of his Boy Scout troop for six years, worked for a long time on his Eagle Scout project to gain his required number of community service hours.

“I built baseball dugouts for the local Hadley Elementary School,” he said. “That was three weeks to a month of planning and getting materials and then another two months of building it on Saturdays and Sundays. That filled my requirements, but I also used a lot of community service work at school, [including] other Boy Scouts activities.”

For his expedition piece of the process, Ryan went backpacking for two weeks at Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico. Throughout the trip, Ryan was required to journal and log each day of his trip to keep track of each piece of the experience.  He said this trip is meant to encourage you to go outside and explore outside of your comfort zone.  He explained that the trip was both fun and difficult.

As for the physical fitness aspect of the challenge, Ryan explained, “is easy because you can use sports.  I play three sports at Williston so that didn’t take long.” Ryan is a swimmer, a soccer player, and a baseball player, all at the varsity level. He shared that the hardest part of the process was just having to record everything and writing it all down, especially for the four years he has been doing it.

Ryan was presented the award by Representative Mr. James McGovern (D-MA) during McGovern’s brief trip to Northampton.

“It was very nice of him to fit this in because he’s very busy and he’s only in Northampton once in a while, so it was very quick,” Ryan said.  “He told me to keep in touch if I ever make it to gold I would go to DC to have that presented and he said if that happens to call him and he’ll be there,” Ryan added.

Ryan explained that the work he has gotten involved in due to working for the Congressional Awards has made a mark on him and he wants to continue even after he stops attaining the awards. “Especially with Boy Scouts, even though I’ve aged out, I want to still be involved,” Ryan explained.  “Especially with my troop, there are a lot of younger kids that I got to work with over the last few years and I want to see them get to Eagle, go beyond and age out.  For me, it’s like unfinished business.  I still want to help, I still want to be involved.”