Service-learning advocates honored at expo

More than 150 University of Indianapolis students and faculty joined community partners in April for the Community Campus Forum & Service Expo, organized by the Center for Service-Learning & Community Engagement.

Community Campus Forum & Service Expo (Photo by D. Todd Moore)

Community Campus Forum & Service Expo (Photo by D. Todd Moore)

The expo honored students and community partners for their dedication to serving local populations who are most in need through service-learning courses. Students held poster sessions reflecting on lessons learned and their experiences, followed by an awards luncheon. Several faculty members were presented with certificates recognizing their contributions to service learning and completion of this year’s Faculty Development Cohort on Service-Learning at the University.

The event highlighted the benefits of University partnerships with organizations like the YMCA, College Mentors for Kids, Pro(Act), TeenWorks, the Burmese American Community Institute, CICOA, Indy Feral and other non-profits. Marianna Foulkrod, director of the Center for Service-Learning & Community Engagement, said the goal is to provide opportunities for student growth alongside community transformation. “It’s not just about the student piece. We’re bringing in that institutional connection too,” she explained.

Guest speakers included community partners Derrin Slack, founder and executive director of Pro(Act), a non-profit that connects youth with community service, and Shelley Hunter, executive director of College Mentors for Kids, an organization that pairs university students with children to act as their mentors.

Slack quoted an African proverb to describe the strength of the University’s community partnerships: “When spider webs unite, they can catch a lion.” He explained, “When community groups and anchor institutions like UIndy unite, no goal is unattainable. Anything is possible when you come together.”

Seniors Alexandria Bishop and Brian Bakemeyer, who are both art therapy majors, shared the Outstanding Service Learning Undergraduate Student Award for their contributions at the Indiana Center for Children and Families. Derek Thiems (physical therapy) won Outstanding Service-Learning Graduate Student Award for his work at Camp PossAbility, which provides a safe space for young adults ages 18-35. Lauren Johnson, principal of IPS School 65, was honored as Community Partner of the Year.

Sarah Tirey ‘07, an associate adjunct faculty member who coordinates Community Immersion in the Arts, nominated Bishop and Bakemeyer, who contributed to an arts enrichment program at the Indiana Center for Children and Families, a non-profit that provides counseling and art therapy to clients who have faced abuse.

“Not only is it meaningful for students to go out into the community and serve, but it’s also very meaningful for us as staff teaching a course like this,” Tirey said.

“Being able to go to a site and do hands-on work within your field is better than any class you can take. This enables you to see how to do the job and if it’s something that you want to make a career of,” said Bakemeyer.

Anne Mejia-Downs, associate professor, presented the Outstanding Service-Learning Graduate Student Award to Derek Thiems. Mejia-Downs said although it was Thiems’ first experience with Camp PossAbility, he took on a leadership role. Camp directors were so impressed with Thiems that they are hoping to offer him a job once he graduates.

“Helping others make the most of their lives by  teaching them how to move better is what physical therapy is all about. I got a small taste for what life would be like as a physical therapist and I am thankful for all of the amazing volunteers and campers at Camp PossAbility, who made this learning experience everything that it was,” Thiems said.

Jim Pennell, professor of sociology, presented the Community Partner of the Year Award to Lauren Johnson, principal of IPS Raymond Brandes School 65, for her support of the teacher education field experience, as well as service-learning and field-based opportunities for sociology, art and nursing students.

“Lauren is everything we should want our school leaders to be. While she’s being recognized as the Community Partner of the Year, she’s a tremendous community partner every year,” Pennell said.

As part of the CSLCE’s Professional Development Service-Learning program for University of Indianapolis faculty, 11 faculty members received the UIndy Service-Learning Faculty Scholar Level 2 certificate:

Anne Mejia-Downs, associate professor, Krannert School of Physical Therapy
Christie Flint, assistant professor, School of Nursing
Elizabeth Moore, assistant professor, College of Health Sciences
Stephanie Kemery, assistant professor, School of Nursing
Amanda Miller, associate professor, Sociology & Criminal Justice
Jamie Oslawski-Lopez, teaching fellow, Sociology & Criminal Justice
Ana Ferreira, assistant professor, Global Languages & Cross-Cultural Studies
Sarah Tirey, associate adjunct faculty, Art & Design
Heidi Rauch, associate professor, College of Health Sciences
Julie Gahimer, professor, Krannert School of Physical Therapy
Petra Davison, assistant professor, School of Nursing
Frank Bates, assistant professor, Krannert School of Physical Therapy

Learn more about service-learning and volunteer opportunities.

Written by Sara Galer, Senior Communications Specialist, University of Indianapolis. Contact newsdesk@UIndy.edu with your campus news.