Two women and one man stand in front of a tall backdrop with the logo for Augusta University on it.
Danila Dokuchayev (center), a fourth-year undergraduate student majoring in dental hygiene, attended the Pancakes and Partnerships Volunteer Services Awards breakfast as a part of winning the Excellence in Community Engagement Student Award.

Student with a ‘servant’s heart’ wins community engagement award 

The Office of Volunteer Services & Community Engagement introduced its inaugural Excellence in Community Engagement Student Award at the spring 2024 Student Life & Engagement Awards Banquet. Danila Dokuchayev, a fourth-year undergraduate student majoring in dental hygiene, was the award’s first recipient for his exemplary leadership, service and unparalleled dedication to the AU community. 

The award honors a faculty-nominated Augusta University student who embodies the “Jags Jump In” mentality and demonstrates a commitment to community-engaged service leadership.

a man standing outside in a tuxedo with a bow tie holds an award

As the award winner, Dokuchayev also took part in the first Pancakes & Partnerships celebration breakfast, where he showcased his partnership work to faculty, staff, community partners and collaborators. He and other banquet award winners were also invited to attend a private luncheon with AU President Brooks A. Keel, PhD, to share community engagement initiative ideas. 

“I am super honored to receive this award, and I am glad that I can represent our dental hygiene program in the process,” Dokuchayev said. “I would not be here if it wasn’t for the program or the faculty so, this isn’t just my doing. I am representing my faculty, who help students and allow us to go out into the community and do these initiatives. I am representing all my classmates, who have gone and volunteered in addition to myself at these different events. Together we worked as a team, alongside many others, to make a difference in our community, and this award reflects those efforts.”   

Moreover, he has been involved in other volunteer initiatives, including the McCorkle Nurseries Rural Health Fair, CFUMC Food Pantry, North Carolina Mission of Mercy (MOM), Costa Layman International Health Fair Outreach, Barnyard Flea Market Dental Screenings, Bridge Builder Community and the Remote Area Medical clinics.   

a group of dental students stand in one of the aisle at a flea market, holding a sign that says free dental screenings bordered with plain teeth, teeth with a braces bracket, toothbrushes, and dental cleaning tools, as they smile at the camera.
Dental and dental hygiene students at the Barnyard Flea Market Dental Screening provided free dental screenings to those within the community.

His outstanding contributions to the AU community include participating in or leading clubs and student organizations, serving as class president, and campus tours and volunteer work on and off AU’s campus. Many of Dokuchayev’s volunteer initiatives include collaborating with outside community organizations to provide oral hygiene products and to educate individuals about dental hygiene, such as the Augusta Community Festival and Winter Wonderland. His volunteer work spans 291 service hours, and he often volunteers alongside his dental hygiene classmates to “narrow the gap” for access to care. 

Additionally, Dokuchayev is a co-president and founding member of the Augusta University Pre-Dental Hygiene Club, where he helps students learn about the dental field with a focus on the dental hygiene profession. He is also a member of various clubs and organizations at the Dental College of Georgia, including the American Association of Public Health Dentistry, Hispanic Student Dental Association, Dental Research Society and the Dental Multicultural Association.   

“I am receiving this education that not everyone has access to, and it is a disservice to not go out and volunteer in the community and help those in need. So, I do my best to create and seek out opportunities not only for myself but my class as a whole where we can go out and provide this need or access to care.” 

Danila Dokuchayev, a fourth-year undergraduate student majoring in dental hygiene

Throughout his time at Augusta University, Dokuchayev has significantly impacted on his peers and faculty. Erin Boyleston, program director of dental hygiene, nominated Dokuchayev for the Jags Jump In award.   

Boyleston describes Dokuchayev as the “epitome of a servant’s heart,” noting his genuine drive to help others. She recalls him expressing interest in AU’s volunteer and service initiatives from the moment they met several years ago. 

“Danila has been a true champion for service and for our program,” Boyleston said. “He inspires others. His drive and passion are infectious, and I think that his classmates get from him that willingness to help. I have not met another person who has been this involved and who wanted to know everything that he could do to leave the program better than he found it.”  

The Office of Volunteer Services & Community Engagement created the Jags Jump In award to showcase a student or students for their remarkable efforts in the community and for the institution. 

Shayna Crawford, the volunteer engagement coordinator, hopes that Dokuchayev’s drive and recognition will attract more students to service initiatives, furthering both student success and potential development opportunities. 

There are many ways for students to get involved in community service, such as utilizing JagPulse, a community engagement platform that allows students, faculty and staff to connect with local nonprofit organizations. Students who like to work in groups or alongside friends in on-campus clubs and organizations often participate in community service.  

“It is so important to highlight service because, in education, it is a high-impact practice, and students who participate in service in their college education tend to do better academically and also tend to persist and complete their degree,” said Kristie Johnson, community engagement manager. “Highlighting service is inspirational to other students who will then not only benefit the community, but it will also benefit themselves.”   

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Written by
Jamison Guice

Jamison Guice is a communications strategist at Augusta University. You can reach her at or (706) 737-1411.

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Avatar photo Written by Jamison Guice

Jagwire is your source for news and stories from Augusta University. Daily updates highlight the many ways students, faculty, staff, researchers and clinicians "bring their A games" in classrooms and clinics on four campuses in Augusta and locations across the state of Georgia.

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