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Nine U of U Grads are Named Bennion Center Service-Learning Scholars

May 9, 2002 — The University of Utah’s Bennion Center recently named nine students as 2002 Service-Learning Scholars. The recognition honors those who complete 400 hours of community service, 10 credit hours of service-learning classes and a major integrative service project that combines academics with concentrated community work.

The 2002 Service-Learning Scholars are Jeffrey Bigelow, Amy Coombs, Ashley DiAna, James Ford, Matthew Miller, Megan Nibley, Melissa Nielson, Alexander Smith and Gweneth Owens.

“We are pleased with the number of University students involved in civic work and commend the Bennion Center Service-Learning Scholars for their demonstrated commitment and contribution to community service,” notes Meg Stephenson, Bennion Center service-learning manager. “We are confident they will utilize their leadership skills for the betterment of the communities in which they work and live.”

Jeffrey Bigelow and Megan Nibley worked jointly on their major integrative service project. They founded a University of Utah chapter of the Humanitarian Aid Relief Team (HART), an organization that coordinates the resources of medical professionals, volunteers and supplies to combat the extensive occurrence of Buruli Ulcer in Ghana, West Africa.

In conjunction with staff members from Friends of the Great Salt Lake (FGSL), the environmental group opposing the building of the Legacy Highway, Amy Coombs developed an interdisciplinary, quarterly lecture series on research going on at the Great Salt Lake. Held onsite, the field seminar series coordinates research efforts and presents fellow scientists and community members with information applicable to present and future policy issues regarding the Great Salt Lake and the Legacy Highway.

Collaborating with a faculty member and several community partners, Ashley DiAna created an innovative service-learning class entitled “Confronting Juvenile Justice.” The course engaged students in service opportunities with juvenile attorneys, judges and probation officers. Taught this semester, the class explored complex social issues through the workings of the legal system.

James Ford documented the history of Students Serving Utah Network (SSUN) to enable the group to better develop its ongoing organizational structure. SSUN is the student arm of Campus Compact, a national coalition of university presidents dedicated to renewing the civic mission of higher education. Ford’s leadership role in SSUN, as well as in other student-driven groups, enhanced the project.

During his undergraduate years, Matthew Miller worked with Primary Children’s Medical Center as an interpreter for Spanish language patients and their families. For his service project he has created a database that will easily update and organize the extensive list of volunteer interpreters. Medical staff will work closely in the design and development of this new program so that they are able to maintain the information with minimal effort.

Working with Choice Humanitarian, Melissa Nielson has created an AIDS Education Program to be implemented by teachers of primary school students in Kenya. The program is designed so teachers can adapt it to their needs, ensuring that it is culturally sensitive and age appropriate. The program’s goal is to increase awareness of HIV/AIDS, how it is transmitted and how it can be prevented.

After identifying a need to supplement regular curriculum for monolingual students, Alexander Smith established an after-school English program at Copperview Elementary School. Non-English speaking students and parents were invited to attend classes to help them succeed in an English-speaking classroom. Additional benefits included establishing and improving family/school relationships and providing support for classroom teachers.

Working with the Rape Recovery Center for two-and-a-half years provided Gweneth Owens with enough experience to rewrite and update two large documents, the Volunteer Manual and the Community Education Manual. The revised documents will enable volunteers to quickly reference materials and understand the comprehensive demands of their positions.

Since its founding in 1987, the Lowell Bennion Community Service Center has been providing service opportunities to the students, faculty, staff and alumni of the University of Utah. The Bennion Center fosters lifelong service and civic participation by engaging the University with the greater community in action, change and learning.

More than 5,000 people donate more than 100,000 hours annually to a variety of projects. Some give an hour of their time while others give weeks or even months. Through Bennion Center projects, these volunteers gain insight into dealing with poverty, the environment, at-risk youth, the elderly and the disabled.