One Northern Arizona University student’s hard work and civic engagement has literally paid off by way of a $15,000 scholarship from the National Society of Collegiate Scholars.

Hesham Elnagar, a graduate student in NAU’s musicology program, was selected for the society’s competitive 15th Anniversary Scholarship in recognition of his being a “passionate, engaged citizen…who takes deliberate action to impact his community in a positive way.”

Elnagar, a native of Henderson, Nev., graduated summa cum laude from NAU in May with a bachelor’s degree in music, following a decorated career as an undergraduate student. In April he was one of only 60 students nationwide named to USA Today’s All-USA College Academic Team program for his research and efforts to promote community service, volunteerism and civic engagement among college students.

“Service learning is a passion of mine because of the avenues students, community members and educators can take in connecting all citizens of a community or society with the needs of that society,” Elnagar said.

The National Society of Collegiate Scholars is an honors organization that invites high-achieving first- and second-year college students at 240 universities across the country. Elnagar co-founded NAU’s NSCS chapter in 2007 and served as chapter president the following year. Among his other accomplishments, Elnagar also established a successful student mentoring program at the university, and organized a campus-wide letter writing campaign addressing Arizona’s higher education budget restrictions.

“NSCS was a great avenue to explore some of the ideas I had in classes I was taking about education and experimental learning,” said Elnagar. “I was able to execute the ideas I had through NSCS and the chapter at NAU and the service initiatives we engaged in.”

Elnagar also serves the Rotary Club of Green Valley, Rotary District 5300, and is an Ambassadorial Scholar for the 2009-2010 scholarship period in New Zealand, where he will complete a master’s degree in education. In preparation for his studies abroad, Elnagar has been researching and developing presentations relating to his senior thesis on civic engagement and service-learning in American higher education. He will use this research to engage in educational and service-related activities to introduce new pedagogical ideas to various Rotary Clubs, communities and students of all ages and backgrounds.

“Hesham has been an agent of positive transformation as an educator as much as he has been transformed through his own educational pursuits,” said Karen Pugliesi, vice provost for Academic Affairs.

“Hesham’s passion for service learning and education express the ideals we hope to encourage in our members,” said Stephen E. Loflin, founder and executive director of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars. “We are very proud to be able to provide financial support to help him achieve his goals.”