Undergraduate Academic Affairs

June 8, 2011

Undergraduate service makes a difference for the community and students

Undergraduate Academic Affairs

Alumni e-News

Ellis Civic Fellow Paige Gehrke presents her leadership project

Ellis Civic Fellow Paige Gehrke presents her leadership project, “The Vera Project—Seattle’s Always All-Ages Art Venue” at the 2011 Spring Celebration. The Vera Project—founded in 2001 by Mary Gates Scholars James Keblas and Shannon Stewart—recognizes the importance of art within a community by fostering a participatory creative culture through popular music concerts, arts programs, experiential learning, and volunteer opportunities.

In the 2009-10 school year, University of Washington students devoted an astounding 619,222 hours to public service. Undergraduates volunteered in senior citizen centers, cleaned up parks, increased access to early literacy programs and more.

Service alumni:
What are you doing now? How have your undergraduate service and leadership experiences impacted your current work? Tell us about it by emailing UAAalum@uw.edu and we’ll include it in the Alumnotes section of this e-newsletter.

Undergraduate participation in service learning has increased dramatically in the past few years as students are eager to not only apply what they’re learning in class to an outside context but also because they are driven to give back to the community.

Students’ dedication to the community is commended at the annual Spring Celebration of Service and Leadership where students present their community-based service and leadership projects. Learn how service and leadership made a difference for two UAA alumnae and meet two students who shared their experiences at this year’s Spring Celebration.

Kelly Ward, ’07, ’10

B.A. in comparative religion

Kelly WardI participated in the Spring Celebration in 2006. I was in the first cohort of Carlson Civic Fellows, and my project was promoting civic engagement among youth at the Bryant Manor Computer Learning Center.

My experience was great! I learned a lot about the community I was working with and about the challenges of youth development work.

Right now I am working at an anti-poverty advocacy organization in Chicago. My service learning experience at UW really helped me discover the various ways one can make a career out of serving the community.

Read more about Kelly as an undergraduate in the 2007-08 UAA Annual Report.

Angel Corral, ’10

B.S. in biology

Angel CorralI participated in Spring Celebration three times, from 2008-2010. In 2010, I presented my Mary Gates Leadership Project, which was a Registered Student Organization called Advocates Proposing Purposeful Learning Environments (APPLE). As the president of APPLE, I focused the aim of the student group towards undergraduates interested in issues of education and used the group to help network these students with education-related community and university organizations. I also collaborated with the Pipeline Project to co-facilitate an Inner Pipeline Seminar called Pathways to Teaching. The seminar focused on traditional and alternative pathways to teaching as well as the state of public education under the Obama-Duncan administration. We also helped our students prepare for applying to these teaching programs by having workshops about interviews, cover letters, and resumes.

The experience working with APPLE was definitely beneficial to my growth as an educator. Specifically in having to facilitate the seminar, I was able to build connections with faculty and staff in the UW College of Education as well as do research in current issues in education that I was interested in learning about. I definitely feel like the work I did had an impact on bringing knowledge and different perspectives about how to go about a career in teaching to the students in my seminar as well giving them practical skills and tips in applying for said programs. While APPLE’s impact on the university community was a small one, I believe that we started to make our presence known on campus by having a growth in members as well as building stronger and more positive relationships with the community organizations around us.

Currently, I am a first-year graduate student at UCLA’s Teacher Education Program in the process of getting my Teacher Credential in Secondary Science and a Master’s in Education. I am in the IMPACT: Urban Residency Program where I am an apprentice 7th grade life science teacher at a middle school.

My experience at UW led to my wanting to become an educator. [It gave] me insight on the dire state of public education today…and [gave] me hands-on experience through my involvement with the Jumpstart Program all four years of my UW tenure.

Along with student teaching at my middle school, I volunteer with a nonprofit program called Students Run LA, which helps train and motivate students in the Los Angeles Unified School District for the LA Marathon. I am a first time marathon finisher with the students I [trained] with for six months!

Read about Angel’s undergraduate work with JumpStart in this profile from the Mary Gates Endowment for Students.

Dean Chahim, senior

Majors: civil and environmental engineering and development studies

Dean ChahimI received my [Mary Gates Leadership] Award this year to help support my work founding the Critical Development Forum (CDF). This group has been meeting every two weeks but we are hoping to meet about weekly next quarter. Each meeting we have a speaker (often a professor or local development practitioner) give a short talk [about issues related to international development]. Afterwards we engage students in a discussion about what they have heard and encourage them to reflect on their own work and role. Finally, we hope to meet one another across all these divides on campus!

This group was born out of my frustration with development while I was in Nicaragua—I saw enormous problems that were systemic yet students and even professionals were working in pigeon-holed niches. It’s an effort to bridge the disciplinary, political, and organizational gaps that divide us and prevent us from achieving our mutual goals of ‘development’—whatever we define it to be.

My current trajectory is to become a public scholar, a bit like my mentor, Dr. Stephen Bezruchka (in Global Health). He sacrificed some of the perks of academia in order to pursue what he really loved, which is talking to the public.

Not only do I want the CDF to continue [after graduation], but I want to continue doing work like that of the CDF on a larger, public scale. I want to engage the public in these debates and push for changes in the way we perceive and implement ‘development’—taking into account its ecological, social, and political ramifications.
As a side note, I’m particularly interested in water, given my background in environmental engineering. As it becomes increasingly commoditized, I’m very worried about the effects for the poor and marginalized, and the ecological systems more generally.

Dean presented establishing and running the Critical Development Forum at the Spring Celebration and was recently awarded the Bonderman Travel Fellowship for 2011-12. He was featured in the September 2010 issue of Columns magazine.

Jasmine Stork, senior

Majors: Comparative History of Ideas, Medical Anthropology Global Health and Public Health, and Individualized Studies

Jasmine StorkI received a Mary Gates Leadership Award for [initiating and coordinating] the “Mixed 101 Class: Mixed identities and racialized bodies,” which was offered through women’s studies. The last three years a group of us got together and created a “mixed club,” but we wanted a more official, more academic space and to be recognized for academic work talking about mixed experiences. We worked together to come up with what we thought should be in a class, and the department said they had a way for us to lead it. This spring was the third time this class was offered.

[Putting together the class is] more about facilitating than…being the sole owners of knowledge. The idea is that the conversation on campus isn’t really happening in an academic space, and the way it is happening when it does isn’t positive. The idea is to give that space to people and just say that we share in it. We want to be a part of it, but we aren’t the ones in charge. We’re just getting the space together.

[In November, we presented] our project at the Critical Mixed Race conference [at DePaul University in Chicago]. We met people from different colleges all over the country. It was really good to connect and see how much we could really share. Aside from the six of us representing our project there were five other undergraduates presenting at the conference.

After graduation, there’s a whole world out there. I’m interested in public health so I know I’m going to transition into public health work at some point…I’m focused on health promotion for fat populations, so I’m trying to figure out where different programs and organizations are. I’d really like to be housed in a community where there are organizations like that for me to work with but also in a place where I think I’d be comfortable.

Jasmine presented the Mixed 101 class at the Spring Celebration. Read more about the class in the July 2009 issue of Arts & Sciences Perspectives.