15:51 PM

Student Success On Display: CCESL’s Community Engagement Appreciation Ceremony

The Center for Community Engagement & Service Learning (CCESL) hosted its annual Community Engagement Appreciation Ceremony on May 5. During the event, students, faculty, and staff shared their encounters working outside the classroom with UHD’s affiliates to establish meaningful experiences and work-based knowledge.

“Strengthening communities is a strategic priority of UHD. This commitment comes to life through the involvement of our students and the work of our faculty and staff,” said Caroline Smith, Associate Director of CCESL. “The programming celebrated at the ceremony reflects the University’s strong commitment to community engagement. In supporting our community, we set the example of volunteerism and service for our students and help to instill this important priority in our city’s future leaders.”

More than 80 Gators and community partners filled the room during the ceremony. Throughout the hour, the Campus Community shared their learnings. Topics presented ranged from GatorServe and community engagement internships to community engagement grants and service-learning courses.

Presenters included the following:

  • Criminal Justice Assistant Professor Dr. Nina Barbieri and Accounting major Joshua Molina
  • Co-founder and Executive Director of Momentum Education Raj Salhotra and Communications major Marbella Serna
  • Social Work major Ursela Whetstone-Knox
  • Assistant Professor of Social Work and Director of Field Education Dr. Dana Smith

Two additional special moments occurred during the ceremony.

UHD President Loren J. Blanchard took the podium to introduce this year’s newly named Newman Civic Fellow, Kayla Mazariego, a junior majoring in Criminal Justice. The Newman Civic Fellowship recognizes and supports community-committed students who are change-makers and public problem-solvers at Campus Compact member institutions. Compass Compact is an organization that works to advance the public purposes of higher education. Mazariego, a first-generation student, uses her voice in the community and alongside her peers at UHD to address issues such as social inequalities and voting rights.

The other memorable announcement was the recognition of the Satya Raj Scholarship and William V. Flores & Noel Bezette-Flores Family Community Engagement Scholarship, both of which require students to detail how service plays a role in their lives, among other criteria.

The Satya Raj Scholarship recipients are Early Childhood Core major Paloma Esparza-Guerra and Biotechnology major Bianca Paz. The William V. Flores & Noel Bezette-Flores Family Community Engagement Scholarship recipients are Control & Instrument Engineering Technology major Briana Canizales, Management Information Systems major Gregory Ige, Social Work major Cynthia Rendon, and Social Sciences major Adilene Mendoza.

The Community Engagement Appreciation Ceremony serves as a capstone to a year of work and volunteering by UHD students through CCESL’s activities. Its programs prepare educated and engaged students; strengthen democratic values and civic responsibility; address critical societal issues; and build partnerships of knowledge and resources with the public and private sectors to enrich and enhance curriculum, teaching, and learning. CCESL’s objective is to provide students with high-impact practices that enhance their academic careers. To learn more about the CCESL’s efforts, visit the website.

About the University of Houston-Downtown

The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) is the second-largest university in Houston and has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974. As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive, four-year university led by President Loren J. Blanchard. Annually, UHD educates approximately 14,000 students, boasts more than 66,000 alumni, and offers 45 bachelor’s degrees, 12 master’s degrees, and 19 online programs within four colleges: Marilyn Davies College of Business, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Public Service, and College of Sciences and Technology. UHD has one of the lowest tuition rates in Texas.

U.S. News and World Report ranked UHD among the nation’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Applied Administration and Best Online Master’s Programs in Criminal Justice, as well as a Top Performer in Social Mobility. The Wall Street Journal/College Pulse ranked UHD one of the best colleges in the U.S. for its 2024 rankings, with notable distinctions: No. 1 for diversity (tied) and No. 3 for student experience. The University is designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, a Minority-Serving Institution, and a Military Friendly School. For more information on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit uhd.edu.