La Sierra freshmen start college by serving community
September 23, 2011
By Darla Martin Tucker
RIVERSIDE, Calif. – (www.lasierra.edu) Approximately 420 La Sierra University freshmen and 100 upperclassmen spent Thursday morning, Sept. 22, in various service activities throughout Riverside removing graffiti, planting trees, clearing litter, painting and other volunteer work.
Riverside Police Chief Sergio Diaz visited student groups at three work sites and thanked them for their contributions to the city. “It seemed like a great opportunity to bring the Riverside community closer to the La Sierra community,” and to recognize the university as “an integral part of the community,” he said.
The university and police department forged ties through La Sierra’s new Criminal Justice bachelor’s degree program. The department has provided speakers for criminal justice classes and through those connections helped facilitate the establishment this May of the Ryan Bonaminio Scholarship Fund at La Sierra. The scholarship is named for a 27-year-old Riverside police officer who was shot to death last November when he ran after a suspect through Riverside’s Fairmount Park.
Thursday’s community outreach endeavor, called iServe, is a new component of La Sierra’s traditional IGNITE freshman program held before the start of school each fall. IGNITE runs Wednesday through Friday, Sept. 21 – Sept. 23, and includes a talent show, ‘Hello Walk’ for freshmen to greet administrators and faculty, a ‘Blessings’ service for parents and their college-bound children, workshops and meals. The new students are divided into small groups called families which are led by La Sierra upperclassmen.
Through iServe, students worked with approximately 20 community service providers including Habitat for Humanity, Riverside’s Keep Riverside Clean and Beautiful project, the Riverwalk Dog Park, and La Sierra University Church. Their work for Habitat for Humanity involved providing a $1,500 paint job on a doublewide trailer in a mobile home park. The painting project helped prevent the eviction of the tenant who is on a fixed income.
Samantha Morales, a pre-dietetics/nutrition major and transfer from Riverside Community College worked with 17 other new students cleaning debris from dirt lots at the corner of California Avenue and Tyler Street in Riverside. A driver stopped briefly and asked about the students’ work, then thanked Morales for their efforts. “It’s pretty cool,” Morales said after the students finished raking litter into green trash bags. “We were actually doing something [of benefit]. It’s something so small, but it does matter.”
“It just felt really great to give something to the community,” added David Ortiz, a freshman pre-nursing major and graduate of Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Corona. His friend, Alex Syed, also a Roosevelt High grad and a La Sierra pre-med major concurred. “It’s good to give back to the community for what it’s given us,” he said.
PR Contact: Larry Becker
Executive Director of University Relations
La Sierra University