At the conclusion of another year marked by more than 80,000 hours of service, the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning recognized outstanding contributions to local initiatives at the 10th annual Community Engaged Scholarship Forum on May 1. This year’s award recipients have made outstanding contributions to the Finger Lakes in addressing issues like education, food justice, criminal justice reform and public safety.
“The work you see highlighted here is a sample of the robust learning that occurs when community partners, students, faculty and staff say yes to partnership,” said Director of the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning Katie Flowers kicking off the event in the Vandervort Room with more than 75 students, faculty staff and community members in attendance.
The Forum celebrates just a small fraction of the milestones reached through community service projects connected to the Colleges. Earlier this year, The Princeton Review recognized HWS as having one of the most actively engaged student bodies in the nation, according to its list of the “25 Best Schools for Making an Impact.”
Flowers and her colleagues recognized Newman Civic Fellow Brandy Vargas ’19 for her leadership in developing a social justice studies course that asks participants to use storytelling as a tool to discuss data yielded from GIS mapping software. A Posse scholar from Los Angeles, Vargas worked as a direct support professional at Lochland School, assisting residents with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and as a tutor with the America Reads program. “Those who know Brandy well appreciate her ability to listen thoughtfully and her willingness to proactively engage in complicated matters,” said Flowers.
Ren Workman ’18 was recognized as the HWS Civically Engaged Student of the Year. Workman’s service to the Colleges and Geneva includes participation in food justice programs like the HWS Greens Growing Project and the Finger Lakes Culinary Bounty. She served as a tutor with America Reads and as the founder and president of Girl Up, an HWS organization dedicated to advancing women’s rights. “Ren’s leadership in the class is noteworthy with her fellow students often remarking how invaluable her insights and contributions are to the community-based project,” said Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies Robin Lewis.
The Colleges also honored the Civically Engaged Faculty Member of the Year: Associate Professor of Sociology Jim Sutton, who in the words of Interim Provost and Associate Professor of Political Science DeWayne Lucas, “has worked tirelessly to ensure voices that aren’t usually represented in higher education are represented, heard and valued.” A national expert in criminology, Sutton has played an integral role in the Second Chances Prison Education Program and has facilitated community-wide conversations on the criminal justice system and the school-to-prison pipeline. His real-world applications of sociology have inspired students like Samantha Ruthazer ’18, who says Sutton is “a quiet superhero who is a leader in the classroom, in office hours, and in the community.”
The Colleges also recognized Safe Harbors of the Finger Lakes as the HWS Community Partner of the Year. The organization helps facilitate consent programming at the Colleges and supports student groups. Safe Harbors staff meets monthly at HWS to coordinate, collaborate, and provide prevention and education programing that is informed by student perspectives and effective at meeting students’ needs.