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School of Public and International Affairs

Living the Values of Service

Alycia Thornton (MPA ‘23) is the graduate recipient of the 2023 William J. Block Award for Service to the university and broader community. The School of Public and International Affairs awards this significant recognition to an MPA student who has demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to public service during their time in the Masters of Public Administration program. 

“The importance of serving others was instilled in me by my parents and grandparents. Community service allows me to live out my core values and support causes that I’m passionate about which is personally fulfilling.”

“I developed a deep love of serving my community by participating in the National FFA Organization and Kappa Delta Sorority, Alycia said. She is also a volunteer with and longtime member of NC Grange where she works toward rural community improvement and advocates for agricultural and environmental issues. “I continue to care deeply for the agricultural industry and collegiate-related groups that meant so much to me as an undergraduate student and young professional,” she noted. 

Seamlessly blending her campus community service work at NC State–where she was both a graduate student and the director of development for NC State’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences–with her volunteerism in her community, Alycia has mastered living her values and the art of public service problem solving. 

As the organizations she works with have grown to encompass new experiences, service has remained crucial to her value system and personal fulfillment. “In recent years, my interests have evolved and I also care for the nonprofit work that closely aligns to my experiences as a parent.” Alycia has volunteered with the Marbles Kids Museum and is currently a leader for the nonprofit You Made Me Mom where she supports bereaved mothers through pregnancy and child loss. “Alycia uses her personal experience and her passion for helping others to provide emotional support to mothers going through a very challenging experience,” said Tina Morrison, a fellow MPA student who nominated Aylcia for the award. 

“I’ve built a beautiful network through community engagement opportunities and volunteer work and I only hope it continues to grow. I’d encourage everyone to share with others the work that they are doing to serve their communities and ask others to participate as well. I’ve found many meaningful service opportunities because someone asked me to learn more and the mission was inspiring to me.”

Alycia is also a wife and mother. “It is just as important to me to teach my children to value community service,” Alycia said. “Just as my life has been enriched by others, I hope to pay it forward and also inspire future generations to get involved, serve others, and live a life of service. I’m excited to see what other volunteer work I may participate in in the future as I become more aware of other needs, interests, and opportunities.” 

The William J. Block Award recognizes a public administration graduate student from the School of Public and International Affairs who has demonstrated exceptional community service, public engagement and a record of academic achievement. It was created in honor of William J. Block, who had a long and distinguished career at NC State. A popular professor, he chaired the political science department, created the public administration department, served as chair of the faculty senate, and was active in his community and city politics. His commitment to his students and the larger community was profound. After he retired in 1984, Professor Block continued to advise students for many years.