From the moment I stepped foot on Grounds, I knew that I wanted to use my education to empower and give back to the Latinx community that raised me. I wanted my education to mean more than just a pathway to a good job; I wanted to learn how to make a true impact in my community. Dissatisfied with academic discussions that talked about issues that my community back home faced like case studies through an emotionless, objective, and depoliticized lens, I began to question how exactly my education alone was going to give me a critical lens in which to view the issues I was passionate about.
Third-year Sofia Chen spent this past summer in Manhattan, New York, as a Business Development Analyst for 24/7 Teach. Last spring, Sofia was awarded a Parents Fund Internship Grant, which is intended to provide funds that support students who have secured unpaid public service internships. This is Sofia's first reflection from her time working at 24/7 Teach, and you can read more about her experiences this summer on the UVA Career Center website.
For anyone interested in seeing the many spring 2020 classes that offer an entry into community-based learning, they can explore the Civic and Community Engagement subcategory on Lou’s List. Take a look at the course descriptions or search for classes taught by some of UVA’s engaged faculty members who continue to work in the pursuit of the "great and good."
The Public Service Programming Board (PSPB) is housed within the Office of the Dean of Students and provides grant funding for student-led public service, civic engagement, and service learning initiatives. Through my time on the PSPB, I’ve had the opportunity to engage with different stakeholders throughout the University and greater Charlottesville community and learn about the many community-engaged initiatives UVA students take part in.
Camp Kesem is a free, weeklong summer camp for kids whose parents have or have had cancer. Throughout the year, we fundraise, hang out with our campers and families, and plan reunions. The goal of Camp Kesem is to bring magic to families in Virginia that are affected by cancer and support our campers both during camp and all year round! This past year, we served 154 kids, ranging from the age of six to 18, hosted two reunions, fundraised over $110,000, and had an absolute blast doing it.
Alan and Sarah McLucas graduated from the Curry School of Education in 2016 with their Masters in Teaching, and a focus in special education. Alan also received a Bachelors Degree in History, and Sarah, in Cognitive Science. They were married in 2016 and taught Special Education in Charlottesville before deciding to move to Zambia, Africa, to use their skills in working with an organization called Special Hope Network. Special Hope Network works to create a world for kids with intellectual disabilities by training parents on how to care for their children with unique needs. Special Hope Network is about to celebrate 10 years of impacting the Lusaka community by changing the narrative on intellectual disabilities, and empowering communities to embrace and create space for every child and person!
Evan Steinberg, Class of 2017 French and Foreign Affairs graduate, is currently serving in the Peace Corps as a Food Security Extension Agent. She lives and works in Benin, West Africa, to improve sustainable agriculture techniques and community economic development. She hopes to continue working in the international development sphere after returning from her two-year service abroad.
The Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) was founded in Los Angeles, California, in 1974 by a group of engineers employed by the city of Los Angeles. Their objective was to form a national organization of professional engineers to serve as role models in the Hispanic community. In 2000, the UVA chapter was founded. SHPE UVA seeks to further this service by creating a community in Charlottesville that is Hispanic-inclusive, not exclusive. SHPE changes lives by empowering the Hispanic community to realize its fullest potential and to impact the world through STEM awareness, access, support, and development.
This past Saturday, April 13, hundreds of University students came out to participate in the Madison House BIG Event. Through service-oriented activities at various locations around Charlottesville, the BIG Event promotes campus and community unity as students come together for one day to express their gratitude for the support from the surrounding community.
Professor Kate Kostelnik teaches writing and pedagogy courses that ask what it means to communicate and learn across cultures. She emphasizes strengths-based, multi-competency practices in working with multilingual writers; her students bring these skills to volunteering with the LAMA (Latinx and Migrant Aid) and ESOL (English for speakers of other languages) programs.