(Worcester, Mass.) -- Worcester State University has been named to the 2012 U.S. President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll by The Corporation for National and Community Service. The Honor Roll distinction, as well as student and faculty service learning and civic engagement work throughout the past year will be recognized at the 6th Annual Celebration of Service Across the Ages, Tuesday April 10, from 1 PM to 4 PM in the WSU Student Center Blue Lounge. The event will feature a keynote address by Massachusetts Campus Compact Executive Director Barbara Canyes.
"We are proud to receive this recognition and to celebrate our students and faculty," said President Barry M. Maloney. "They are doing amazing work in ourlocal communities and internationally." The President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, launched in 2006, annually highlights the role colleges and universities play in solving community problems and placing more students on a lifelong path of civic engagement by recognizing institutions that achieve meaningful, measurable outcomes in the communities they serve.
Dr. Mark Wagner, Director of the Center for Service Learning and Civic Engagement at WSU reports that this year's application was rigorous and highlighted WSU's work in three key areas: public schools, nearby neighborhoods, and the international community:
Chandler Magnet School:
As part of the Achievement Gap Act of 2010, Chandler Magnet received funds to create charter-like schools that operate with greater autonomy while keeping school funding within districts. As part of the university's Service learning initiatives, WSU students are working at Chandler Magnet School in a diverse setting, where more than 10 languages are spoken, and are gaining first-hand experience with innovative teaching methods and strategies. The WSU Latino Education Institute (LEI) provided a Worcester Teachers Corps to help build a dual language program beginning in 2011 in K-1 and the WSU Education Department dedicated faculty for on-going faculty workshops to deepen content knowledge. WSU faculty and students have developed enrichment and after school and tutorial programming aimed at increased family engagement. In addition, WSU secured grants from the National Education Association (NEA), the WSU Alumni Association Advisory Board, and the Central Mass Chapter of Phi Delta Kappa for the Chandler Magnet Library. The WSU Student Education Association has committed to raising $12,000.00, including in-kind contributions. The three-year program "Building Communities by Books," has contributed close to 1000 volumes to the Chandler Magnet library;
VITA Tax Assistance Program
Worcester State University students, alumni and volunteers have offered free, confidential tax preparation to the greater community for more than three decades. According to Professor Michael Shamgochian, who leads the initiative, volunteers this year filed 472 returns resulting in $633,071 in tax refunds for area residents. Each year, from February 1 through April 15th, IRS certified students and volunteers devote 40 weekly hours, primarily to elderly and low income residents, to help secure Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit. WSU works with partners Worcester Community Action Council and the Internal Revenue Service. Employers report how relevant this certification and experience are for their hires. Professor Shamgochian reports, “No matter what I do in other classes – group work, directed writing — the tax program is 100% enthusiasm.”
The VITA Tax program saves our community as much as $80,000 plus in brokerage fees. Tracking data since 2004, the Volunteer Tax Assistance Program has filed 2088 returns, secured $2,220,540 for area residents, an average return of $1,063. The fees saved in tax preparation total $365,400.
International Health Care Outreach Projects
For the past six years, WSU has supported two International Health Care Outreach Projects, including this year's international nursing project in Belize. Professor Kathryn Baldor’s nursing students visited four schools: Silk Grass Village School, where they cared for 319 children; San Isidro School, where they cared for 130, Maya Centre School (MCS) where they cared for 103 children and Hope Creek Primary where they cared for 171 children. The students receive temporary nursing licenses through the Belize Ministry of Health, do a needs assessment, identify Problem #1 and implement Response #1. If a child presents further, WSU students identify and respond to secondary concerns. Students distribute medical supplies and age appropriate coloring books upon arrival. This trip is supported by the WSU President’s Office, the WSU Alumni Fund, the Belize Ministry of Health and community partner All Care Medical Supply of Millbury. Of the 723 children served, 346 were in need of #1 health care intervention for conditions ranging from excessive ear wax to evidence of abuse. International Health Care Outreach carries the school’s mission to the people of the world through their health, preparing students for citizenship, work, and life in an interconnected world.
Also receiving a community award at the Celebration event on April 10, will be Bill Fredericks, the President and CEO of AllCare Medical Supply in Millbury for his assistance with an international health care outreach project in Belize. In addition, WSU student Patrick Hare, ’12, WSU Student Government Association president will be honored for his recognition as a Newman Civic Fellow, a national fellowship that honors inspiring college student leaders who have demonstrated an investment in finding solutions for challenges facing communities throughout the country. These students represent the next generation of public problem solvers and civic leaders. They serve as national examples of the role that higher education can—and does—play in building a better world. Newman Civic Fellows are recommended by college and university presidents to acknowledge motivation and ability in public leadership. President Barry M. Maloney put forward the nomination of SGA President Patrick Hare.
Stephanie M. Chalupka, Professor and Chair of Nursing at the Dr. Lillian R. Goodman Department of Nursing is recognizing four students at the event: Bet Key Wong, Tina Paul, Mary Moynihan, and Mary Collaro. Earth Sciences is honoring Michael Sutton; History: Asia Simpson; Sociology: Ker Thao and Gary Marinin. Alexandra Salcedo and Manjola (Manny) Luma are also being recognized for their work in Nonprofit Management Program
The Center for Service-Learning and Civic Engagement was established in the spring of 2006 by a group of distinguished faculty at Worcester State University. The mission of the Center is to challenge students and faculty to investigate social problems by examining their root causes in the classroom while simultaneously addressing them in the community. To accomplish this successfully, we encourage students and faculty to work collaboratively with community partners to design effective research and service projects.
The mission of the Intergenerational Urban Institute at Worcester State University is to harness the combined talents of college students of all ages to meet the challenges that face our urban environment. By creating a learning community of young, middle aged, and elder students, the IUI fosters growth in knowledge, skill development and interpersonal relationships that enable people to work effectively in service in the greater Worcester community.
The event will also feature a performance by the WSU Chorale.