By

Courtney McCune

Through hard work and dedication, 27 Arizona State University students have qualified for the President’s Volunteer Service Award.

The national award was established in 2003 by the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation and recognizes the importance of volunteers in the U.S. and their commitment to serving their communities.

In total, the ASU students’ efforts amount to thousands of hours in community impact, giving their time to help tackle issues like homelessness, the environment, education in underserved communities and many others.  

The students qualified for the awards at bronze, silver and gold levels, which are based on age and hours of service performed in a 12-month period. Seven students achieved the gold level (250 or more hours), five achieved silver (175–249 hours) and 15 achieved bronze (100–174 hours). Among the individual students, three were repeat awardees: Claudia LaGarde (silver), Lissa Leibson (bronze) and Nicole Schott (gold).

Four ASU groups were also recognized for their service, including University Service-Learning, which achieved gold for the second year in a row; Undergraduate Student Government Tempe and Alpha Kappa Psi – Iota Xi Chapter, which achieved silver; and National Society of Collegiate Scholars, which achieved bronze.

One of the ASU organizations helping to drive the spirit of service on campus and in the community is Changemaker Central. Among its initiatives for empowering students to lead social change both locally and globally is the coordination of service opportunities like Changemaker Days of Service, Devils in Disguise and others.

Angelica Cesar, a junior double majoring in political science and transborder studies with a concentration on U.S. and Mexico regional immigration policy and economy in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, is the service chair for Changemaker Central and a President’s Volunteer Service Award bronze awardee.

Cesar says that Changemaker provides accessible, meaningful and relevant volunteer opportunities both on- and off-campus. She explains that these experiences are a key part of being a student at ASU, with benefits that extend throughout campus and beyond.

“Community service is an integral part of the Sun Devil experience because it allows students to develop a bond with the community at large, foster leadership skills and to develop as citizens of the world,” Cesar said.

Learn more about the President’s Volunteer Service Award and how to sign up for the 2018–2019 award cycle through Changemaker Central.

A few of this year’s awardees shared their insights about their community-service experiences:

Awardees

Name: Nicole Schott
Major and academic college: elementary education, STEM, Mary Lou Fulton Teacher’s College

Question: Why do you think it is important for students to serve the community around them?

Answer: Serving the community around you is crucial in creating a community you are proud to be a part of. Students should get involved in the community around them in order to make positive, lasting impacts. A community is only as great as the amount of effort put forth by the individuals who are a part of it. Therefore, it is students' responsibilities to ensure that they are working to foster a better community.

Name: Ishitha Jagadish
Major and academic college: biomedical engineering, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering 

Q: What fuels your passion for community service?

A: I have been volunteering since age 12, and giving is truly receiving. I have served in many areas, including public libraries, tutoring, different hospitals and with the underserved. All experiences were gratifying in that I saw the difference I could make as an individual. Surprisingly, I also learned much more about myself and my abilities, while also gaining valuable soft skills. My confidence in being able to serve people of various backgrounds and communities has significantly grown. Thus, community service continues to give me purpose in reminding me of why I would like to be a physician. It is a great honor to be trusted with caring and advocating for other people.

Name: Matthew Logelin
Major and academic college: educational studies, Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College

Q: What advice do you have for someone who is looking to start volunteering?

A: I would suggest to do some research and find something that you are very passionate about. I would also suggest to step outside your comfort zone and be prepared to work hard. You will be shocked by how much volunteering will make you laugh and how much it will make you cry. Trust me, by the end of your volunteer experience, you will want to go back again and again. The population you serve will always have a special place in your heart.

Name: Stephanie Cahill
Major and academic college: business law/psychology, W. P. Carey School of Business/College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Q: What was your favorite volunteer experience?

A: A group of ASU students and I volunteer at a local middle school every week. We mentor kids that come from very diverse and low-income backgrounds. When I first started, these kids didn't have anyone to believe in themselves, but I have gotten to see them grow into powerful future leaders from the help of our absolutely amazing and inspiring ASU mentors. It has been my favorite part of my college experience just being able to make an impact in a kid's life and show them their full potential. But it's not just a one-way road — having a young full of life kid looking up to you, it makes you want to be the best person you can be. I know this for a fact because It has made me want to be the best I can be, for them.