The Center for Intercultural Communication and Community Engagement (CILCE) and the Office for Service-Learning hosted their annual Community Engagement Celebration on May 5. This event brought together community partners and St. Thomas faculty, staff and students to reflect on this year’s partnerships, to share ideas to strengthen common work and sustain projects that have been completed, and to celebrate accomplishments in community-based learning.  

Based on discussion and feedback from last year’s event, CILCE and Service-Learning recently applied for and received a Solutions Initiative Grant from the Gerald and Henrietta Rauenhorst Foundation. With these funds, three part-time project coordinators were hired to help foster similar conversations throughout the year with the goal of creating processes that more effectively connect faculty, staff and students with community partners. The Community Engagement Celebration was the first opportunity to introduce the project coordinators and solicit input and participation for this initiative from the campus and local community.

Following reflection and discussion sessions, this year’s outstanding community engagement award recipients were recognized. 

The honorees:

Dr. Debra Petersen, associate professor, Communication and Journalism, Faculty Service-Learning Award recipient, for her excellent work with Hiawatha Elementary School and Ke Kula Ni’ihau O Kekaha School as part of the January Term course Hawaii: Multi-Cultural Communication in Diverse Organizations, her contribution to an article in Best Practices in Experiential and Service-Learning in Communication, 2009, and her service on the Service-Learning Advisory Board.

Mike and Joe Schepers, Undergraduate Service-Learning Award recipients, for their extraordinary commitment in working with students at Cristo Rey Jesuit High School.

Randy Hade and Kari Jo Johnson, Undergraduate Community Engagement Leadership Award recipients, for their outstanding commitment to community engagement through exceptional personal initiative, involvement with VISION, and leadership in a variety of St. Thomas programs.

Tim Flynn and Matthew Stewart, Graduate Student Community engagement award recipients, for demonstrating outstanding commitments to service through their exemplary contributions as part of the Community Justice Project, part of the School of Law and Interprofessional Center.

Eastside Neighborhood Services – Family Violence Program, Community Partner Award recipient, for providing field experience opportunities for Bachelor of Social Work students and serving as a co-educator to engage students in meaningful experience, service and dialogue about issues of social responsibility.

“Thank you to those who nominated individuals for these awards and the continued efforts of the St. Thomas community to educate students to be morally responsible leaders who think critically, act wisely and work skillfully to advance the common good in our community,” commented Meghan Eliason, CILCE director.