The recipient of an award honoring alumni generally recognizes that person’s giving and service to alma mater. Cathy Eagles, C’00, ACP, is no exception. In receiving the School’s Gibb Family Distinguished Alumni Award, the School of Professional and Continuing Studies recognizes the ongoing and consistent service Eagles has provided the School.

But Eagles’ giving and service have not been solely, or perhaps even largely, focused on SPCS. Her sights have been set on much grander service goals.

Eagles took ten years (and the school’s name change from University College to School of Continuing Studies), from 1990 to 2000, to earn a Bachelor of Applied Studies in Paralegal Studies from SPCS. And she did so with aplomb, graduating with honors as a member of the Golden Key International Honour Society and earning the School’s first book award for excellence in paralegal studies. As an alumna she joined the SPCS (then SCS) Alumni Association Board of Directors in 2010, then served as the board’s president in 2014 and past-president in 2015.

In her Commencement address, Eagles shared one of her personal values, that “serving and helping others is a gift to yourself.” While she has retired from her latest job as a paralegal for the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, she remains devoted to service. Highlights from her ongoing career of community and professional service include the following:

  • Officer and director capacities on the Board of Directors of the Richmond Paralegal Association, 1997-2009
  • Officer, committee and presidential appointments in the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA), with service continuing to date
  • 3-year term appointment to NALA’s 12-member Continuing Education Council, an umbrella council responsible for the publication of Facts & Findings Magazine, NALA’s various continuing education programs, and its annual conventions
  • Co-chair of NALA’s 2008 annual convention in Oklahoma City and chair of NALA’s 2009 annual convention in San Diego
  • Member of the Patient and Family Advisory Council for the Neuroscience Team at Johnston-Willis Hospital.
  • Certified tutor for The Read Center
  • Member of the City of Richmond Run for READ Marathon Committee

Service has not only provided Eagles a gift to herself, but has provided her ongoing learning opportunities. Involvement in NALA, for example, contributed in part to the extensive continuing education required to earn the Advanced Certified Paralegal (ACP) designation. She learned compassion and curiosity while serving as a tutor with The READ Center (a service she entered at the urging of her advisor, the School’s beloved Jean Proffitt), and discovered that adults who may not be able to read are nonetheless remarkably smart in so many other ways. And she learned that service benefits not only those served, but oneself.

Eagles concluded her Commencement address with this charge to graduating students: “As you leave commencement today, I encourage you to remain focused and to live a life of purpose. There is more to your life’s story and there is still much to learn.... Devote your gifts and talents to encourage, inspire, and help others realize their dreams and exceed their expectations.”

Eagles’ selection as the Gibb Family Distinguished Alumni Award recipient was announced during SPCS Night, the School’s annual awards ceremony for graduating students, held May 3, 2017. Earning this award provides the recipient the opportunity to address graduates at Commencement Exercises.