UCA celebrates its commitment to service and civic engagement

Last week the University of Central Arkansas (UCA) honored faculty, students and members of the community who have demonstrated a commitment to and excellence in service-learning and civic engagement during UCA’s inaugural service-learning awards ceremony.

Three UCA students received awards this year. The “Spirit of Humanity” award went to Mariama Laouali Balla, a graduate student in the PhD Leadership Studies program, who exemplifies a spirit and concern for the overall well-being and rights of individuals through her work with the Women’s Foundation of Arkansas and other research projects.

The “Exceptional Achievement in Service-Learning” award was presented to Timothy Bullington, also a student in the PhD in Leadership Studies program. Bullington is commitment to excellence in service-learning, exhibits dedication to community partners and incorporates service-learning experience into his personal and professional goals. He’s worked with the Stuttgart and Conway Chambers of Commerce on projects to address quality of life and leadership issues in communities.

Alexandra Doolittle, recipient of the “Leadership in Service-Learning” award was chosen for her leadership role in the service-learning portion of her honor’s philosophy course. Doolittle is an English Major who led efforts to promote “One Billion Rising” which is an international movement to raise awareness for the one billion women who will face domestic or sexual violence in their lifetime.

Over 700 students participated in service-learning courses and activities this academic year. “We are extremely proud of the level of service our students have contributed to the community. We have some of the best students and faculty in the state and it shows from the work they’ve done in the community. UCA has an opportunity to lead efforts statewide to address community issues and other disparities through its service-learning program,” says Kristy Carter, executive director of Outreach and Community Engagement at UCA.

UCA’s service-learning program gives students even more opportunities to engage and impact the community. Service-learning also provides students with the knowledge they need to address issues they are studying in class and practical application to solve real-world problems in the community. “They have truly embraced this experiential instructional strategy. I know from my own courses and hear from my colleagues that UCA students are excited to give back to their community while at the same time applying what they are learning in the classroom,” says Dr. Peter Mehl, associate dean for the College of Liberal Arts and service-learning faculty liaison.

Other students nominated for service-learning awards include: Felicia Nunn, Damian Robinson, Jacob Smith, Casey Stewart, Megan Rogers, Emily Smithson, and Madalyn Van Valkenburg. Additional awards were presented to Dr. Lorrie George-Paschal (Service-Learning Faculty of the Year); Dr. Hunter Phillips Goodman (Champion of Service-Learning); and The Boys and Girls Club of Faulkner County (Community Partner of the Year).