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Two dozen Sun Devil students have qualified for the President’s Volunteer Service Award in recognition of their hard work done both in the Valley of the Sun and beyond. The award was established by George W. Bush in 2002 as a way to honor volunteers who give back hundreds of hours each year to their community.
For their efforts, the representatives from Arizona State University received an official lapel pin, a personalized certificate of achievement and a note of congratulations from the President of the United States of America.
“This award is an outstanding way to highlight our students,” said Deb Ruiz, director of University Service-Learning. “They impact our local communities in such a positive and mutually beneficial way.”
“This is just the cherry on top for me,” said junior Ryan Clark, who completed 234.5 hours of work. “I love what I do and will continue this relationship for years to come. It’s nice to be able to bring something home like this at the end of it all.”
Wanting to give back in a way that was meaningful to him, the Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences student had a fairly unique service project — helping care for sick, injured and displaced owls in Arizona.
“I surrendered my Friday nights to a raptor refuge and rehabilitation center in Cave Creek called Wild at Heart,” Clark said.
Clark is just one example of hundreds of Sun Devils who give back to their community. Throughout the university, 830 students participated in community engagement programs a year ago for a total of 1,261,648 hours.
Thanks to ASU's service-learning courses, offered through the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, students can earn three credits and receive an in-depth study of civic engagement while solving community issues through service. They also attend a weekly class and complete assignments examining the effects of social injustices.
"Students (in these classes) select one of 160 community organizations, high needs schools or social services agencies to complete between 70-100 hours of service at,” Ruiz said. “We encourage all of our students to apply for the President’s Volunteer Service Awards for the high levels of community service that they complete, as well as applying for the awards as a group. We feel it is extremely important for all college students to gain experience that encourages community involvement, advances good citizenship skills and make a difference in the community.”
Ruiz hopes that the combination of the award and ASU’s service-learning classes will help foster even more community service from Sun Devils in the future.
“They are able to implement their classroom learning in a way that creates positive social change throughout the community,” Ruiz said. “Not only does the award highlight the students’ completion of important work, but it can encourage other students to participate as well.”
Top photo: Front row, left to right: Nicole Schott, Jasmine Smalls, Alexandra Magnall, Haley Lunski, Jennifer Lee. Back row, left to right: Lissa Leibson, Madeline Wells, Claudia LaGarde, Erica Schwartzmann, Sara Lanzel.