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Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning celebrates students, faculty with Impact Awards

impact awards


By Julia Duvall

On Wednesday, April 17, several Western Carolina University programs, faculty and students were recognized by WCU’s Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning during the 2024 Impact Awards ceremony.

"The Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning is honored to acknowledge and celebrate impactful partnerships between WCU faculty, staff and students and our regional communities,” said Julia Heckert, associate director for community outreach. “These reciprocal relationships enrich teaching and learning experiences while also addressing critical community-identified needs. It's partnerships like these that transform communities and foster civic and social responsibility in our students. We applaud all who strive to live out WCU's mission as a regionally engaged university."

Three awards are given annually, the Community-Engaged Teaching, Learning and Research Award, the Community Outreach Award and the Lily Community Engagement Award.

The Community-Engaged Teaching, Learning and Research Award reflects community engagement projects involving teaching, learning and research activities led by any instructor that engage faculty, students and one or more community partners in a mutually beneficial collaboration. The projects address community-identified needs and deepen students’ academic and civic learning. Teaching and learning projects include, but are not limited to, service-learning and experiential learning.

2024 recipients:

  • “We are not okay: A collaborative community project on mental health in WNC schools” - A collaboration between WCU Human Services, counseling and the School of Teaching and Learning.
  • Facilitating Fitness Programming at Hinds' Feet Farm - A collaboration between WCU’s recreational therapy program professor Jennifer Hinton, alumna Branson Duvall and Hinds' Feet Farm.

The Community Outreach Award reflects community engagement projects led by a WCU employee or student that provide institutional resources or services to address a community-identified need. The projects can be ongoing or one-time events that engage a university program or unit with community partners. The projects may have an academic learning component but are primarily co-curricular in nature.

2024 recipients:

  • MSW Field Internship: Community Garden & Multi-Lingual Food Security Education and Resource Cards - A collaboration between Catholic Charities and WCU social work student Elizabeth Milligan.
  • Champion Mill Community Scanning Event - A collaboration between WCU Hunter Library/Special and Digital Collections Unit, the Canton Area Historical Museum, Canton Public Library, Haywood County Library and the Town of Canton.

The Lily Award is awarded to students who participate in and reflect on direct service, awareness and advocacy events, donation and philanthropy programs, and SLC-designated courses.

2024 recipients:

Sarah Brantley, James Carroll, Isabela Niewiara, Cody Pegram, Jenna Schwartz, Caylie Shew, Natasha Sturdivant, Stella Walborn, Lydia Warthin and April Wivell.

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