May 20, 2011
By Darla Martin Tucker
RIVERSIDE, Calif. – (www.lasierra.edu) Last year, approximately 32 La Sierra University students spent more than 400 hours at eight schools in Riverside giving music lessons and demonstrations, leading chemistry experiments and tutoring youth in math. Their efforts impacted more than 500 at-risk elementary and middle school students in the Alvord Unified School District and helped teachers keep their young charges on track.
Such outreach is part of the broad, academic-based, Service-Learning program at La Sierra, one of numerous service initiatives responsible for the university’s national recognition as a top education institution for community involvement and helping others.
On May 12, the Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency, released the 2010 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll listing La Sierra University as one of 15 California universities and colleges on its Honor Roll with Distinction for community service during the 2009-2010 school year. All told, the Honor Roll with Distinction recognized 114 universities and colleges around the country, and listed 511 on the broader Honor Roll. Eleven schools were identified as finalists and six were chosen for the Presidential Award. A total of 851 colleges and universities applied for the Honor Roll designations, according to the community service corporation.
The community service corporation’s selection criteria includes “the scope and innovation of service projects, the extent to which service-learning is embedded in the curriculum, …and measureable community outcomes as a result of service,” the corporation states.
La Sierra University, one of 14 Seventh-day Adventist universities and colleges around the United States and Canada, is the only Adventist school to land on the Honor Roll with Distinction roster.
“The privilege of higher education exists for several important purposes. One of these is to prepare qualified leaders who can utilize their learning in ways that productively address the needs of other people and organizations,” said Steve Pawluk, La Sierra University provost. “La Sierra University is pleased to see that our students’ and our faculty members’ selfless efforts in applying classroom learning in positive ways throughout our community are being recognized by this designation.”
La Sierra’s Office of Service-Learning gathers data and submits the application for the national honor roll program. For the 2009-2010 application, the office included data from short and long-term mission service; economic and educational empowerment projects by the award-winning Students In Free Enterprise team; student-led service events; community service through the Honors program; and community outreach through Service-Learning. All of these efforts combined resulted in more than 58,000 hours of community service by La Sierra University students.
The Service-Learning program, the broadest of the university’s outreach undertakings, last year involved 54 classes that incorporated student assistance at schools, including the Alvord Unified School District, senior care facilities and other organizations. More than 800 students contributed over 11,000 hours of community service through Service-Learning. Service-Learning projects are course-driven, determined by instructional goals while responding to genuine needs in the community. Students completed academic assignments and written reflections in connection with their service.
Honors student Meagan Miller, a biology/pre-med major, said she learned the value of helping individuals achieve positive change from organizing an education program for Operation Safehouse, a home for runaway, homeless and troubled teens. In fulfillment of Honors program community project requirements, she and fellow student Chelsea Johnson devised Operation T.E.X.A.S., or Teens Excel At Safehouse for the facility’s teen residents. “One of the major needs observed was the lack of a consistent education program,” Miller said. The students devised interactive game, story and project-based curriculum in English, math, history, and science. They also revamped the facility’s rules manual with pictures and other elements to make it more teen friendly. “My idea of working towards community has undergone a positive change and I am thankful for that shift of mind,” Miller said. “I plan to carry this attitude into my professional career and any other endeavors I take on.”
The Corporation for National and Community Service has administered the Honor Roll since 2006. La Sierra University landed on the corporation’s Honor Roll with Distinction for 2007 and 2008 and was listed on the Honor Roll in 2009. The Carnegie Foundation also awarded La Sierra in 2008 for its outreach endeavors and included the university in its Community Engagement Classification list in the curricular engagement category.
The federal community service corporation oversees Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, and Learn and Serve America volunteer programs, and leads President Obama’s service initiative, United We Serve. The corporation administers the Honor Roll program in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Education and Housing and Urban Development, Campus Compact and the American Council on Education.
PR Contact: Larry Becker
Executive Director of University Relations
La Sierra University