Dr. Tom Mosca, a professor of mathematics at Rappahannock Community College, has recently received the President’s Volunteer Service Award from former United States president Barack Obama. The award is a tremendous honor, and its recipients deliver a powerful message that encourages others to take action. Various levels of recognition are based on the number of volunteer hours served; Dr. Mosca’s award represents the highest level, the President’s Lifetime Achievement Award, for those who contribute more than 4,000 hours of service over their lifetimes.
Mosca’s volunteer work was performed as a member of the Coast Guard Auxiliary, whose mission is to promote boating safety and augment the security of the country’s waterways and coastal regions. Reflecting on his service, he says that he has participated in more search-and-rescue missions than he can recall. These missions were often carried out under extremely hazardous weather conditions. Only the fact that lives were at risk could justify putting out to sea in such conditions; however, Mosca is proud to relate, “We always came back with the people that were in distress.” In addition, Mosca’s unit has participated in operations to detect drug smuggling, and has several times—notably during the two weeks following September 11, 2001—been called on to take over the duties of regular Coast Guard or Navy personnel who were needed elsewhere.
“Your volunteer service demonstrates the kind of commitment to your community that moves America a step closer to its great promise,” said President Obama in the letter that accompanied Dr. Mosca’s certificate.
All of these actions are made even more admirable by the fact that Mosca has been confined to a wheelchair since an accident in 1984. Determination and hard work—without which, he says, nothing worth having can be obtained—allowed him to earn his bachelor’s (CNU, 1988), master’s (VCU, 1989), and doctoral degrees (W&M, 1997), after which he began teaching at RCC. During his years with the Coast Guard Auxiliary, he has acted as a coxswain and participated in all on-the water duties, as well as serving in many on-land administrative positions. Though naysayers said it couldn’t be done, he has also learned to pilot an airplane and an ultralight aircraft. He is a certified scuba diver and an avid photographer, and enjoys offshore fishing, especially taking his 30-foot boat out off Hatteras to catch mahi-mahi and tuna.