May 8, 2003 — Last Thursday, on the eve of the University of Utah’s commencement, the U’s Lowell Bennion Community Service Center named 12 graduating seniors 2003 Service-Learning Scholars at a banquet at the Alumni House. On Friday, University President Bernie Machen recognized these students during commencement ceremonies.
“Look at what the 12 of us have done! Think what could happen if even half of the graduating class each gave 400 hours of community service!” one scholar exclaimed.
While service-learning programs are open to all students, those who wish to graduate as Bennion Center Service-Learning Scholars must complete 400 hours of community service and a minimum of 10 credit hours of service-learning classes. In addition, scholars are required to create a major integrative service project (ISP), which combines academics with concentrated, sustainable work to address an unmet community need.
Named as 2003 Service-Learning Scholars were Brian Lyn Bosworth, Gena Baca, Nicholas Timothy Branscomb, Heather Brown, Tiffany Greene, Eric McEntire, Jessie Morris, Jessica Peterson, Amity Scoville Condie, SalleeAnn Sudbury, Jared Turner and Brenna VanFrank. Carol Werner, Distinguished Service-Learning Faculty Award recipient, addressed the scholars Thursday evening.
“Service-learning elevates everyone in the program-the faculty, students, community and especially the individuals we help,” Bosworth, who graduated Friday with a degree in economics, told the other scholars Thursday night. Bosworth found through his work with the Community Services Council that financial instability is one of the most common problems among its clients. So he initiated a program that educates about four areas: eliminating debt, avoiding debt, budgeting skills and improving credit. The program will collaborate with the Salt Lake City Housing Department.
Meg Stephenson, Bennion Center service-learning manager, notes that because of these students’ early commitment to and involvement in civic work, they are likely to continue to make contributions to the communities in which they live and work, one of the goals of the Bennion Center, which was founded in 1987. Through hands-on community projects that teach leadership skills, Bennion Center participants-whether they are students, faculty, staff or alumni-gain an understanding of business, politics, community practices and non-profit organizations. Last year 5,288 individuals gave 120,000 hours of service through Bennion Center-sponsored programs and partnerships.
Gena Baca, a nursing graduate, was among the Service-Learning Scholars named. She worked with the Rape Recovery Center to update the Elderly Abuse Module and to increase information outreach to target and educate elderly populations.
Nicholas Timothy Branscomb received his B.S. in health promotion and education. For his ISP he gathered data from respite patients’ charts over the past seven years in an effort to cooperate with local hospitals to develop affordable, sensible solutions for homeless patients.
Nursing graduate Heather Brown collaborated with both the Jewish Community Center and her own nursing program to offer health benefits and promotions, including: an annual health fair, free screenings and monthly wellness classes.
Tiffany Greene worked with the International Rescue Committee to design a tutoring program specifically for Sudanese youth. The program included curriculum in reading comprehension, grammar skills and GED preparation.
Eric McEntire, who received his degree in behavioral science and health, worked with Huntsman Cancer Institute staff to invite patients to participate in activities offered four nights a week. They included plant potting, game playing, joke reading, along with a variety of other activities.
Jessie Morris partnered with Utah’s Hogle Zoo to address educational needs of the growing Hispanic population in Utah. Jessie, who received a B.S. in biology and anthropology, began by surveying various segments of that population. After she and her committee reviewed the results, a variety of appropriate Spanish language materials were created.
Business administration graduate Jessica Peterson coordinated a new program in the Dean of Students office, which is designed to support a number of minority scholarship recipients. Jessica matched students with mentors, planned events and helped evaluate the first-year agenda.
Helping to promote equal rights for people in poverty, Amity Scoville Condie, who graduated with a degree in community psychology, created a book to educate the public and potential funders of affordable housing. It was entitled “Faces of Affordability” and portrayed biographical sketches of those living in subsidized housing.
SalleeAnn Sudbury, who received a B.A. in English teaching, worked to establish the first English as a Second Language (ESL) instructional program for The East Literacy Project. She also worked with Reach Out and Read, an organization that provides books and reading instruction for children as they arrive at medical facilities for pediatric care.
While working as a translator during parent-teacher conferences at Stansbury Elementary, Jared Turner, a Spanish and political science graduate, became keenly aware of the essential service he was providing. He then recruited foreign language translators from the University to assist the school and built a database that included detailed and relevant volunteer information.
Brenna VanFrank, who graduated in chemistry, worked closely with the staff and families at the Road Home homeless shelter to develop a literacy program. The Kids Book Club incorporated experiences that would not only instill a love of reading, but would build the self-esteem and social skills of at-risk children.