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U Students’ Community Service Projects Have Wide Reach

2012 Service-Learning Scholar Graduates.

May 2, 2012 – During this year’s commencement on Friday, May 4, 12 service-learning scholars will graduate after they committed more than 5,000 hours to service during as undergraduates at the University of Utah.

Recently recognized by the Lowell Bennion Community Service Center at a dinner in their honor, these students each completed more than 400 service hours and, 10 service-learning credit hours of coursework, attended related workshops and submitted their written reflections upon their service to the Bennion Center each semester.

“We at the Bennion Center and the University are proud of these students for continuing the service legacy of Lowell Bennion and the University of Utah,” says JaNae Lilly, service-learning coordinator for the Bennion Center. “Service-learning scholars maintain high academic standards while contributing to our community in ways that make a lasting impact.”

Below is a list of the scholars and how they served the community:

Alexandrea Nichols volunteered for Alternative Spring Break trips to San Francisco, Seattle and Vancouver focusing on different issues. She was also a volunteer at Primary Children’s Medical Center. For her Integrated Service Project—a project required to receive full designation as a service-learning scholar—she created a physical fitness and nutrition program titled “Health and Lifestyles: The Power of Choice” for the Girl Scouts of Utah. This curriculum was designed for use by volunteers and troop leaders for girls ages 8 to 14.

Aliene Porath Davis planned, organized and successfully held a 5K walk/run for Rocky Mountain Care Foundation, a nonprofit home care and hospice organization, and raised more than $2,000. Following plans set up by Aliene, the 5K walk/run, now in its fourth year, continues to raise needed money for Rocky Mountain Care Foundation.

Anna Kafka used her time volunteering in a hospital to help her decide to attend medical school. She also volunteered as a tutor and mentor through various agencies, and has learned about chemistry while performing science demonstrations. For her Integrated Service Project, she created a website for the Community Outreach Program in the U’s Department of Chemistry, helping to enhance educational instruction for nontraditional students. The website acts as a means to organize the large amount of information needed to perform the demonstrations.

Brittany McDowell created a procedure and instruction notebook for the University of Utah Special Olympics Team, including athlete records, volunteer coordination, transportation and fundraising recommendations. Disability and syndrome summaries for the most frequently seen intellectual disability diagnoses in Special Olympics athletes also were assembled.

Christiana Tawzer volunteered as a counselor at Camp Hobe, worked with events for the Utah MS Society, learned to knit baby hats for Knitting for Newbies, and increased her knowledge as a research assistant for three different research teams. For her project, she created a sexual assault and dating violence prevention program for adolescents in Utah in partnership with fellow scholar Tyson Kay and Deborah Dilley, of the Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault.

Jaimie Riding has volunteered as a coach, teacher, tutor, mentor, gardener, laborer, case manager and friend to many people through service at the Bennion Center. For her service project,  Jaimie worked with Rise, Inc. to create a curriculum to educate and motivate youth with special needs on fitness for life and improvement of social skills and self-esteem.

Michael Chen volunteered in several different areas in the Bennion Center.  In addition, he helped construct parade floats with the Chinese Society of Utah. His service project was the creation of Fitness Hour with Seniors. This project connected University of Utah students with the local senior population, by facilitating exercise and interactions. The project helped dissolve stereotypes and biases towards the elderly population.

Parker Chapple has volunteered with refugees in Salt Lake in various capacities. Parker has helped with family mentoring, English as a second Language and health issues. Currently, he is teaching classes for refugee youth and adults. For his project, he worked with Wasatch Community Gardens researching, designing and constructing a passive solar-power system that was used in an existing greenhouse. The end product utilized a simple, effective water heat sink that can be regulated.

Patom Lerslerphant created and presented oral hygiene information to students at Mountain View elementary.  The presentations teach students about the importance of oral health, including why and how students and their families should practice oral health. English and Spanish versions of an oral hygiene brochure were also created for students to bring home.

Tina Huynh has volunteered with the Knitting for Newbies Program, Big Brothers Big Sisters Program and worked with the State of Utah Office of Refugee Services. Tina’s service project entailed the creation of a kindergarten to second-grade biology curriculum for Title 1 elementary schools (schools with a large low-income student population).  The activities and lessons were centered on specific aspects of the Utah Core Curriculum.

Tony Valdez volunteered in the emergency room and the outpatient pharmacy at Intermountain Medical Center, and performed medical interpretation at the Maliheh Free Clinic in Salt Lake City. Tony was also a tutor for immigrants through the ESL Center of Salt Lake. For his project, he worked with the Pingree School for Children with Autism, and translated medical and personal information documents from English to Spanish. He created a pamphlet written in Spanish and distributed it to various pediatric offices across the Salt Lake Valley to raise autism awareness.

Tyson Kay has served the community through volunteering in the Emergency Department of the Salt Lake Regional Medical Center while assisting patients and staff.  His most memorable service event was cleaning at the Ching Farm located in Riverton, Utah.  For his service project, in partnership with Christiana Tawzer, he wrote a curriculum on sexual assault and dating violence for Utah teens that will be used by the Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault.


The Lowell Bennion Community Service Center fosters lifelong service and civic participation by engaging the university with the greater community in action, change, and learning. Founded in 1987, the Bennion Center provides opportunities for community engagement through direct volunteer work and service-learning opportunities. More than 8,500 students, staff, faculty and alumni provide nearly 175,000 hours of service each year. The Bennion Center’s diverse programming ensures there is an opportunity for everyone to get involved. The Bennion Center recently helped the University of Utah earn the Community Engagement classification by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.


The University of Utah, located in Salt Lake City in the foothills of the Wasatch Range, is the flagship institution of higher learning in Utah. Founded in 1850, it serves more than 31,000 students from across the United States and the world. With more than 72 major subjects at the undergraduate level and more than 90 major fields of study at the graduate level, including law and medicine, the university prepares students to live and compete in the global workplace. Learn more about all the U has to offer online at