For his work with THON, Patrick was awarded the Globechanger Award for a volunteer under 25 during a ceremony at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Washington.
"It has all been a whirlwind," said Patrick, who was honored alongside such national figures as former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.
The Jefferson Awards Foundation, created in 1972 by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and others, calls its awards "the Nobel Prize of public service," said Hillary Schafer, executive director of the foundation.
A 70-member board - a who's who of politicians, philanthropists, entrepreneurs, and celebrities - chose Patrick from among hundreds of nominees.
"Ryan led the committee that oversaw a truly incredible undertaking," said Sen. Patrick Toomey, who accompanied Patrick for a day at the Capitol before the awards dinner.
"The magnitude of what Ryan and what his team at THON have been able to accomplish," Schafer said, "is second to none in the country."
Patrick graduated from Penn State in May after tacking on a fifth year to helm THON.
He spent 50 hours a week managing 15,000 student volunteers.