A heart to help those in need
A 2015 Columbus High School graduate was recognized for his volunteer work during halftime at the Montana Tech-Carroll College football game in Alumni Coliseum in Butte on Oct. 15.
Hunter Kent is one of five Montana student volunteers to be recognized at different Frontier Conference football games by the Governor’s Office of Community Service and the Montana Campus Compact.
“Hunter Kent is being recognized for his outstanding and remarkable public service both locally and globally,” a press release from the Office of Community Service stated.
A sophomore majoring in environmental engineering at Montana Tech, Kent spent 17 days this past May with 14 other American volunteers helping out at an orphanage in Kayunga Town, Uganda.
The Tender Mercies orphanage, which started out helping children impacted by AIDS in their family, receives financial support from the AIDSpirit ministry of Billings.
“I was involved in fundraising for the orphanage while in high school,” he said. “While there, we laid paving stones, planted crops, worked in their garden, glazed windows and did some plumbing and other maintenance work. We also helped set up computers when Internet service was connected.”
The volunteers brought medical supplies with them to assist local doctors and held a sickle-cell anemia clinic in Kayunga Town and at a nearby village. Kent also joined the Kiwanis Club volunteers for an eyeglass clinic.
“It was a real eyeopener,” he said about the living conditions he saw in Africa. “It was shocking to see how the people there lived. You need to actually see it for yourself. The orphanage was top-notch compared to how other people lived – in mud and thatch huts or brick buildings that were falling down.”
Kent said he was surprised at how friendly the people were there.
“I arrived with the wrong outlook,” he said, comparing the experience of people in poor undeveloped countries with people in the U.S. “I wasn’t expecting to be so welcomed. People there are very grateful for what they have.”
Kent is the son of Michael and Marcy Kent, who grew up in Butte and now live in Columbus. Hunter’s older brother Chase is also a student at Montana Tech.
“Hunter was very involved in Key Club while in high school and ran cross-country and track, played in the band and coached a basketball team at church,” Marcy said.
In college, Kent became an active and dedicated member of Montana Tech’s Circle K club – the college version of Key Club. A leader in numerous campus and community events, Kent also spent four weeks at a summer camp mentoring and tutoring students for the U.S. Department of Education’s TRIO Upward Bound program.
Kent was also part of the five-person Montana Tech engineering team that took first place out of six teams competing at the Environmental Challenge at the Pacific Northwest International Section in early October in Juneau, Alaska. His team will move on to compete at the Environmental Challenge International in Pittsburgh next year.
“Our challenge was to address mine tailings in a bay where a seafood processing plant was going to be built – what kinds of actions to take, what permits would be needed,” he said.
Kent wanted to thank the Anaconda, Silver Bow, Sunrise and Big Butte Kiwanis Clubs, the Columbus High School Key Club, and the Montana Tech Circle K Club. As for the future, Kent said he’d like to do something with the Peace Corps and find work as an environmental engineer.
“Combining the two would be ideal,” he said.