Individuals who improve the lives of others through volunteer work and strive to better themselves in cooperative education were honored at the Cal Poly Pomona Center for Community Engagement’s Reach Beyond Awards.
The eight honorees, ranging from a student to a community engagement partner, were recognized for their participation in the center’s programs and service to the community at the ceremony on April 28 at The Restaurant at Kellogg Ranch.
“The work you do has meaning and purpose,” University President Soraya M. Coley told the honorees and audience. “For those of us in this room, service is essential. It’s who we are.”
The awardees all worked with Center for Community Engagement programs, including service learning, Bronco Volunteer, cooperative education opportunities and academic internships, during the 2015-16 academic year
“For students, it’s a transformative experience that will change their lives,” says Michael Millar, director of the Center for Community Engagement. “For community and industry partners, it’s about building mutually beneficial partnerships with Cal Poly Pomona and its students and faculty. For Cal Poly Pomona faculty and staff, it’s about strengthening their ability to help their students and themselves to make a difference in the world.”
The honorees are:
- Makeda Bostic is the coordinator of Renaissance Scholars, a program empowers former foster youth like herself at Cal Poly Pomona. She graduated in 2005 and has been involved with the Center for Community Engagement since she was a student. “I want our students to experience community — and I believe there has to be a level of giving back to the community that you are part of whether you recognize it or not,” she says.
- Wei-Jen Lin is a professor of microbiology and the Biotechnology Internship Program coordinator. She facilitates the placement and assessment of student internships at companies, government agencies, and nearby universities and laboratories, and has built strong relationships with corporate partners. “Many of my students talk about how their experience has changed their lives,” she says.
- Tyler Madison knows the value of cooperative education. A paid internship tied to his academic work allowed him to work at the Metropolitan Water District in La Verne for more than two years while he was a student. Upon graduation in 2015, he was hired by a global leader in information technology systems. “I owe my success to cooperative education. Without my experience, I would not be where I am today,” he says.
- Vivianne Mitri is a second-year student and is the founder and president of the Alzheimer’s Buddy Program. She started visiting Alzheimer’s patients as part of a school project when she was 14, and saw the loneliness and isolation of these patients. “I want to dedicate my life to making significant social and medical contributions to the fight against neurodegenerative diseases, with Alzheimer’s being my first priority,” she says.
- Michael J. Rojas is an engineering section manager at the Metropolitan Water District, a longtime industry partner. In 2002, Metropolitan Water District formalized its Cooperative Education Program with the Center for Community Engagement. Since then, more than 185 Cal Poly Pomona students have been hired as cooperative education interns. “I strongly believe cooperative education benefits the student and the employer,” he says.
- Bea Royster went from being a Peace Corps volunteer to attorney who connects Cal Poly Pomona service-learning students and volunteers to the Self-Help Legal Access Center. “Cal Poly Pomona students have consistently been willing to work with the community, to learn from the community, and to be of service to the community. They arrive with that mindset. Cal Poly Pomona students show up knowing this work is important,” she says.
- Laura Solis is an alumna and community partner. At Cal Poly Pomona, she tutored students in the Pomona Unified School District. She is principal at Kingsley Elementary School and has established the campus as a model partner for hosting multiple diverse projects in collaboration with Cal Poly Pomona. “The kids now understand that there are people who care about them and that there is a future beyond their challenges,” she says.
- Gwen Urey is a professor of urban and regional planning at Cal Poly Pomona’s College of Environmental Design who tries to instill civic pride in her students. She encourages them to make community contributions by building on the courses they have taken. In Urey’s 21 years at the university, more than 1,000 students have heeded her call to action. “Having students in community projects is the best way for them to learn,” she says.
The Center for Community Engagement seeks to enhance faculty engagement and scholarship; encourage student participating on campus and in the community; strengthen community partnerships support campus partnerships that promote civic engagement; and increase the visibility of center on campus and in surrounding communities.