Individual UCSC student volunteers, organizations honored for service

Thirty-four student volunteers and eight student organizations were honored at the annual Service Recognition Awards Ceremony for their efforts helping others.

"It is one of the most valuable partnerships we are able to make, linking UCSC students with the greater Santa Cruz community," Chancellor Denice D. Denton said at the May 31 ceremony in the Academic Resources Center Courtyard. "Students gain valuable life experience to complement their academics. Volunteering helps students become more aware of social issues and to grow in their personal lives."

The annual ceremony is sponsored by the Student Volunteer Connection, which matches nonprofit organizations needing help with student volunteers.

Winning the top honor, the Platinum Slug Award, was Ashley Seilhan, who has contributed thousands of hours to be a student director and coach for the UCSC Special Olympics team. In 2004, Ashley helped create Disability Awareness Day on campus, matching Special Olympics athletes and UCSC students for a day of sports, learning, and fun. "Ashley's generous spirit and selflessness have been a gift to the Special Olympics athletes and our organization," said Liz Grumet of the Special Olympics of Northern California.

Patrice Douglass, runner up for the top award, has been involved with the Inside Out Writing Project through the UCSC Women's Center for almost three years. The project helps women in prison.

Gold Slug Award winner Marcelo Vaz volunteers at Barrios Unidos, tutoring students in basic botany and gardening and promoting communication within families

Veronica Hargens, who is dedicated to the protection of the California marine life and has researched bike-friendly cities, received the Silver Slug Award.

Student Organization Award winner Praxis is the service-learning program at College Nine and College Ten. Praxis volunteers have helped with the Second Harvest Food Bank, Homeless Garden Project, Louden Nelson Community Center, La Familia Center, Saint Francis Soup Kitchen, and Habitat for Humanity.

Alpha Epsilon Pi received the Greek Organization Award. Members of the fraternity have helped Habitat for Humanity, the American Red Cross, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, CitySERVE, and the Brown Bag Food Drive.

Winning the Faculty/Staff Award was Tom Turrentine, who runs Merrill College's Classroom Connection. The project brings more than 150 UCSC students each quarter to three Santa Cruz schools to work as teacher's aides. "The Classroom Connection has served an important role in our community, connecting students with classrooms," said Abbey Asher, service-learning coordinator at College Nine and College Ten.

The Harvest Hero Award is awarded to the college with the highest percentage of student participation in the UCSC holiday food drive. Students contribute to the drive by donating meals and flexidollars from their dining plan to benefit the Food Bank. This year the Harvest Hero award went to Merrill College.

The five recipients of Community Service Project Grants--Nathan Berner, Jenny Lowthrop, Deidre Kelly, Irma Magallanes, and Anita Graffius--were also honored. These students designed and implemented a service project in the Santa Cruz community with a grant of up to $1,000 each.


Note: A related feature article about student volunteers is posted online.