UHD GatorServe Honors MLK Day
By Marie Jacinto
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s words, “Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education,” could not ring truer for the University of Houston-Downtown where service to others is in its DNA. Gator character and caring were served up in huge doses this past MLK Day by students, faculty, staff, and alumni in memory of Dr. King’s life and legacy.
President Blanchard joined other area educational leaders on the Superintendents Float at the Annual Black Heritage Society Martin Luther King Jr. Day Parade in Downtown Houston to recognize, sustain, and keep Dr. King’s dream alive.
Annually, UHD’s Center for Community Engagement & Service Learning organizes GatorServe events for the National Days of Service in remembrance of 9/11 and Martin Luther King Jr. On Sat. 14 for this year's MLK National Day of Service, 85 GatorServe participants volunteered at the Houston SPCA to make a difference in the lives of animals that so often become family members. GatorServe volunteers spent the day walking dogs and providing animal care for cats, cleaning windows, building wildlife release cages, and more. Their areas of service included the Adoption Center, Equine and Farm Animal Center, and Wildlife Center.
This year’s GatorServe reached record attendance for the Spring Day of Service event, representing the LARGEST group of volunteers at the new Houston SPCA facility to date! The broad representation included: 44 undergraduate students; five graduate students; eight staff members, five faculty members; five alumni (many of the students and faculty members are also UHD alums!); and 20 community partners.
Peer leaders from UHD’s Animal Rescue Club provided support alongside SERVE Houston/Volunteer Houston representatives. The orientation for GatorServe’s Day of Service began with welcome remarks from Provost Deborah Bordelon; City of Houston District H Councilmember Karla Cisneros; Caroline Smith, Associate Director of the Center for Community Engagement & Service Learning; and Julie Kuenstle, Vice President of Communications & Marketing for the Houston SPCA.
GatorServe events provide learning experiences beyond the skills necessary to complete the volunteer tasks. “I learned that it takes a lot to care for an animal and helping with something small can make a huge difference in someone's life,” stated one Gator. “I plan to apply this to my everyday life by going out of my way to help someone.”
Another GatorServe volunteer commented, “I will apply what I learned as a result of volunteering at the Houston SPCA by being more kind and patient.” As Dr. King said, “Life's most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?'" Patience and kindness are central to helping others: they are the UHD way of life!
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.