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U of U Honor Student Named One of Five National 2002 Swearer Humanitarian Award Recipients

May 16, 2002 — Several weeks ago Ashley DiAna was named one of nine University of Utah Bennion Center Service-Learning Scholars. Last Friday the 23-year-old political science student marched in the University of Utah’s commencement exercises. Later that day DiAna, a University Honor’s Program graduate, learned she has been selected as one of five students to receive the prestigious 2002 Howard R. Swearer Student Humanitarian Award. The honor is given by Campus Compact, a national coalition of college and university presidents committed to the civic purposes of higher education.

Chosen from 85 nominees, the five students will receive $1,500, which must be applied towards a service program of their own design. The winners will be recognized at the Campus Compact 2002 National Summit, to be held Nov. 7-9, in Providence, R.I. The award honors students who have integrated service with academic study; developed systems to ensure long-term support for their proposed project; and linked service with its larger social context through raising awareness and policy work.

“We are delighted that Ashley has been recognized as both an outstanding citizen and an engaged citizen. This national honor credits her notable contributions to academically-based service work,” says Meg Stephenson, Bennion Center service-learning manager.

Since her freshman year, DiAna has volunteered at the Utah AIDS Foundation and at Crossroads Urban Center, an organization that assists low-income Utahns. She then became a student program director at the U’s Lowell Bennion Community Service Center. During her college years, DiAna gained first-hand knowledge of the legislative process by actively campaigning and interning for state senators.

In the summer of 2000, DiAna was chosen as the Bennion/Alumni Fellow, which allowed her to work with the Food Research and Action Center in Washington, D.C. Later that year she served as the Bennion Center’s Alternative Spring Break student coordinator. In this position, she planned and coordinated 10 trips in communities across the western U.S. She and fellow student leaders trained 120 participants for service experiences as diverse as trail maintenance in Arizona and needle exchange in San Francisco.

Over the course of the last academic year, DiAna co-edited the Hinckley Journal of Politics, one of only four undergraduate political science academic journals in the U.S.

DiAna became a Bennion Center Service-Learning scholar by taking 10 hours of service-learning classes, documenting 400 hours of community service and completing a final integrative service project. This involved creating, along with community partners and faculty member Ron Yengich (a renowned defense attorney), a service-learning class entitled “Confronting Juvenile Justice in Utah.” The honors course, also taught by DiAna and Yengich, explored complex social issues through the workings of the legal system and engaged students in service opportunities with juvenile attorneys, judges and probation officers.

University President Bernie Machen nominated DiAna. In the application that accompanied the nomination, DiAna wrote, “The past year’s projects have enabled me to see that there is a meaningful, effective way to discover the desires for community betterment of different groups and to create opportunities for my peers and me to address those specified desires.”

DiAna plans to use the $1,500 to implement an extension of her “Confronting Juvenile Justice in Utah” project. She intends to print and disseminate 450 copies of a user guide for the Utah juvenile justice system and to upgrade a Web site, currently in production, that explains the basics of and lists resources for the Utah juvenile justice system. The guide will be sent to all juvenile court judges and their clerks, involved attorneys, social workers, probation officers, lawmakers and Bennion Center staff and student directors.

The other Swearer Award recipients are Jenny Elsa Blau, Bates College, Lewiston, Maine; Gary Schueller, Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y.; Genoveva Aguilar, University of San Diego, San Diego, Calif.; and Joseph Truglio, Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.

Since 1987, Campus Compact has recognized five students in honor of Howard R. Swearer, former president of Brown University and one of the founders of Campus Compact.