Special to The Hays Daily News

Alex Becker, son of Joe and Linda Becker of Hays and a student at Thomas More Prep-Marian High School, was named the 2010 recipient of the St. Michael College Book Award for Academic Achievement with a Social Conscience.

The award recognizes students who demonstrate a commitment to leadership in volunteer service and academic achievement. St. Michael, located in Burlington, Vt., was founded on the belief that serving others is part of its Catholic tradition and through the award seeks to honor those who demonstrate the true spirit of volunteerism.

Award recipients, named at schools throughout the country, are high school juniors who are inductees of the National Honor Society or an equivalent school-sponsored honors organization. They must demonstrate a commitment to service activities in high school or community organizations, taking leadership roles in these activities.

Becker was presented the book "First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers" by Loung Ung, a 1993 St. Michael College graduate who has become a widely acclaimed author. In "First They Killed My Father," Ung gives a powerful autobiographical account, from a child's perspective, of surviving captivity during the genocidal Pol Pot regime in Cambodia.

She reveals an indomitable spirit in the face of profound suffering, including the loss of both her parents and two of her siblings. Ung has written a riveting memoir about a family's survival and, in turn, about the development of Ung's ongoing crusade for a land-mine-free world.

Founded in 1904 by the Society of St. Edmund and headed by President John J. Neuhauser, St. Michael College is identified by the Princeton Review as one of the nation's Best 371 Colleges, and will be included in the 2011 Fiske Guide to Colleges.

St. Michael has 1,900 undergraduate students, some 500 graduate students and 100 international students. St. Michael students and professors have received Rhodes, Woodrow Wilson, Pickering, Guggenheim, Fulbright and other grants.

The college is one of the nation's best liberal arts colleges as listed in the 2009 U.S. News & World Report rankings.