CCESL Community Engagement Appreciation Ceremony

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the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning (CCESL) hosted its annual Community Engagement Appreciation Ceremony on May 5th. During the event, students, faculty, and staff shared their work experiences outside of the classroom with UHD affiliates to establish meaningful experiences and work-based knowledge.

“Strengthening communities is a strategic priority for UHD. This commitment is brought to life through the involvement of our students and the hard work of our faculty and staff,” said Caroline Smith, Associate Director of CCESL. “The programming celebrated at the ceremony reflects the University’s strong commitment to community engagement. By supporting our community, we model volunteerism and service in our students and help instill this important priority in our city’s future leaders.

More than 80 Gators and community partners filled the hall during the ceremony. Throughout the hour, the campus community shared their learnings. Topics featured ranged from GatorServe and community engagement internships to community engagement grants and service-learning courses.

Presenters included the following:

  • Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice Dr. Nina Barbieri and Accounting Major Joshua Molina
  • Momentum Education Co-Founder and Executive Director Raj Salhotra and Communications Major Marbella Serna
  • Ursela Whetstone-Knox Social Work Major
  • Assistant Professor of Social Work and Director of Field Education, Dr. Dana Smith

Two additional special moments occurred during the ceremony.

UHD President Loren J. Blanchard took to the podium to introduce this year’s new Newman Civic Fellow, Kayla Mazariego, a junior specializing in criminal justice. The Newman Civic Scholarship recognizes and supports community-engaged students who are changemakers and public problem solvers at Campus Compact member institutions. Compass Compact is an organization that works to advance public goals for higher education. Mazariego, a first-generation student, uses her voice in the community and alongside her peers at UHD to address issues such as social inequality and voting rights.

The other memorable announcement was the recognition of the Satya Raj scholarship and William V. Flores & Noel Bezette-Flores Family Community Engagement Scholarship, both of which require students to detail how service plays a role in their lives, among other criteria.

Recipients of the Satya Raj scholarship are majors in early childhood Paloma Esparza-Guerra and biotechnology major Bianca Paz. The recipients of the William V. Flores and Noel Bezette-Flores Family Community Engagement Scholarships are Major in Control and Instrument Engineering Briana Canizales, management information systems major Gregory Ige, social work major Cynthia Rendon and social science major Adilene Mendoza.

The Community Involvement Appreciation Ceremony serves as the cornerstone of a year of UHD student work and volunteerism in CCESL activities. Its programs prepare educated and engaged students; strengthening democratic values ​​and civic responsibility; solve critical societal problems; and building knowledge and resource partnerships with the public and private sectors to enrich and improve curricula, teaching and learning. CCESL’s goal is to provide students with high-impact practices that enhance their academic careers. To learn more about CCESL’s efforts, visit website.

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