Meet our 2016-17 Advocates for Community Engagement (ACEs)

Advocates for Community Engagement are socially responsible, civically engaged student leaders who facilitate meaningful service-learning experiences for USF students, faculty, and their host organizations. Primarily, ACEs act as liaisons to ensure the needs and expectations of all stakeholders are accounted for and prioritized. Each ACE makes a one-year commitment to work onsite at Bay Area nonprofit organizations. Meet our current cohort of ACEs  and learn about their hopes and expectations for the coming academic year.

 

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 Nell Bayliss

Major: Critical Diversity Studies

Minor: Public Service and Community Engagement

Year: Junior

Living Learning Community: Martin-Baró Scholars 

Nell Bayliss was born and raised in Washington D.C. and that fact ignites her passion for studying Critical Diversity Studies. She is was a part of both the Martin-Baró Scholars and Esther-Madríz Diversity Scholars living learning communities. She is excited to bring her experience from  both living learning communities into her ACE position this year.

 

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Alejandro Cuevas

Major: Latin American Studies

Minor: Dual Degree in Teaching Program

Year: Senior

Living Learning Community: Erasmus  

Alejandro’s experiences both on campus and off campus have prepared him for his role as an Advocate for Community Engagement in multiple ways. His involvement as a student in Erasmus this last year has impacted his view on service learning and issues globally. Experiences doing community organizing have helped him develop skills that will support his involvement as an advocate for community engagement. He is excited to grow as a student and supporting students through their service learning experience.

 

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Amanda Geraldo

Major: Communication Studies

Minor: Theater

Year: Senior

Community Partner Site: Upward Bound

After studying abroad in London last semester, Amanda is very excited to be back as an ACE. In addition to this role, she is actively involved on campus with Dance Generators, Magis Emerging Leadership Program, Lambda Pi Eta, and the Arrupe Immersion program. She has always had a passion for working with youth and is excited to continue exploring this passion through her ACE partnership this year.

 

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Alexa Gonzalez

Major: Politics // International Studies // Latin American Studies

Year: Senior

Community Partner Site: Viviendas Leon

Alexa grew up in Nogales, Sonora—a border town where you can travel from Mexico to the United States in less than 10 minutes. One of her most rewarding college experiences has been working with environmental groups to complete an independent research project focusing on analyzing social resistances emerging in response to the extractivist agribusiness model in the Industrial Belt in Rosario, Argentina. She is very excited to work with Vivendas Leon and support service learners in their projects.

 

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Greta Karisny

Major: Sociology

Minor: Public Service and Community Engagement

Year: Senior

Community Partner Site: 826 Valencia-Tenderloin Center

Greta’s second year as an ACE  is spent working in partnership with 826 Valencia for the 2016/17 school year.She loves being a part of the ACE community and the space it creates for positive discussions towards social justice, community-building, and personal growth. Last year she partnered with Upward Bound USF and had an incredible experience working with the organization, service learning students, and the students that they serve. She had the opportunity to do her direct service with their after-school program at Mission High School and fell in love with the students and the school.Her time at Mission was one of the most positive experiences she’s had at the ACE program and throughout her college career. She is so excited to begin to build relationships with students at 826 this year and to be able to see their growth as the school year continues.

 

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Kiana Rai Martinez

Major: Double major in Sociology and Critical Diversity Studies with a Minor in Public Service and Community Engagement

Year: Junior

Living Learning Community: Esther Madriz Diversity Scholars Living Learning Community

Kiana was a member of cohort ten of the Esther Madriz Diversity Scholars prompting her to pursue a role that gave her the chance to continue working with the program. She enjoys surrounding herself with people who challenge her to think critically and flourish — just two of the traits she sees in the Esther Madriz Scholars, year after year.

 

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Sonia Hurtado Ureño

Major: Sociology and Latin American Studies

Year: Senior

Community Partner Site: Mission Graduates

Sonia Hurtado Ureno was born in Fremont, California to Mexican immigrants. Her experiences as a low income, first generation Chicana has led her to participate in activist efforts during her time at USF. As an ACE, she looks forward to working with first generation college bound students and current students.

 

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Chiweta Uzoka

Major: Politics

Minor: Legal Studies

Year: Junior

Community Partner Site: Bayview Hunter’s Point Community Legal

Chiweta Rozaline Uzoka is Secretary of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated – Tau Tau Chapter, President of Sister Connection, and a member of the Black Student Union here at USF. She was also a member of Esther Madriz Diversity Scholars living-learning community and is currently a peer mentor in this community as well. She is excited to be working with Bayview Legal and moving towards universal access to legal services and representation.

 

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Miriam Uribe

Major: Politics, Latin American Studies, and International Studies

Year: Junior

Community Partner Site: Generation Citizen

During her time here at USF, Miriam has been a strong advocate for more resources for undocumented students in our community. It has been an experience that has allowed her to reflect on the power of story telling to create change. She is excited to work with Generation Citizen this year and redefine what “citizenship” means.

 

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Vivienne Pismarov

Major: Psychology/Legal Studies

Year: Sophomore

Community Partner Site: Faithful Fools

Vivienne Pismarov is a first-year ACE who is excited to explore social justice issues with the McCarthy Center. She was part of the Martín-Baró Scholars Living-Learning Community here at USF last year where she first became interested in engaging issues of diversity and homelessness in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood. Additionally, Vivienne is interested in how legal policies in San Francisco can be modified or created to help better address homelessness, women’s rights issues, and environmental problems.

 

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Nichole Vasquez

Major: Kinesiology

Year: Senior

Community Partner Site:Family House

On campus, Nichole has had different experiences that have prepared her for the ACE role. Her first service experience in college was as a democracy coach with Generation Citizen, where she facilitated a class of seventh graders leading them through a service project. Her experience with Generation Citizen sparked a passion for service that she is excited to continue this year with Family House!

 

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An Advocate for Community Engagement (ACE) Graduates

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Dylan Moore ’16
Advocate for Community Engagement

Over the past year, as an Advocate for Community Engagement (ACE) I’ve worked closely with the Faithful Fools Street Ministry in the Tenderloin neighborhood. As a part of this experience, I worked with a wonderful team of people to plan and implement the Fools annual community celebration, known as Oscard’s Feast. Though it operates as a fundraiser, the primary goal of the event is to come together as Fools and celebrate the community found in the Tenderloin (TL). About a week after the event, I was facilitating a reflection with service-learners from a Communication Studies course as well as with Carmen Barsody, one of the founders of the organization. As we reminisced on the success of the event, Abram Castaneda, one of the service-learners said something that made us all pause, smile and make the classic “mmm” sound that happens when someone in a reflection says something particularly profound. He spoke about the beauty of an event that invites people to “come in your complete imperfections”. If there was ever a summative moment of my experiences as an ACE, that was it. In just one short sentence this service-learner had captured what it means to work as an ACE, with the Leo T. McCarthy Center (LTMC), and with the Faithful Fools.

I began my undergraduate life in service as a Martín-Baró Scholar, working with the Raphael House in the Tenderloin. Through this partnership I served as a homework tutor for young students who were currently or had previously experienced homelessness. I was also fortunate enough to spend a year at the YMCA in Bayview Hunters Point. As a part of my work there I was a classroom assistant, helping students with their algebra homework (although frankly, more often than not, they were the ones teaching me about algebra).

Finally, here I am at the Faithful Fools. voter registrationMy service with the Fools has had me wearing multiple hats. There are times when I’ve helped register voters in the TL and times when my service involves simply being in community. Though my time as an ACE is ending, my journey with the McCarthy Center isn’t over yet. In just one short week I’ll be heading off to Sacramento as a McCarthy Fellow and continuing my journey of exploration.

As graduation grows closer, I’m left thinking about all of the things I have learned as an ACE. While I’m better at writing professional emails and planning reflections, any job of value will help me develop those skills. What makes being an ACE an exceptional and transformative job, is how it has shaped me as an agent of change. Over the past two years I have built incredible relationships, made amazing memories, and learned more about myself and the world than I ever thought I would. As a part of this learning process, I have unpacked and analyzed the structural and systemic issues that affect our community. I have explored my privilege and my marginalization. I have seen the ways nonprofits can fight against marginalization. More than anything though, I’ve learned how to celebrate communities in all of their vulnerabilities and strengths. Being an ACE has taught me that I don’t need to build up walls against my vulnerabilities, I need to bask in them. To share our flaws and imperfections and find common ground within them. Being an ACE has taught me how to grow, celebrate, and heal through vulnerability.

So here I am, in all of my imperfections, ready to take on the world as a McCarthy Fellow in Sacramento and continue celebrating the community that is the McCarthy Center.

(Dylan Moore is the 2016 valedictorian for the School of Arts and Sciences and award winner of the Priscilla A. Scotlan Award and the Leo T. McCarthy Public Service Award)

Teaching, Research, Service – and Social Change: Prioritizing Community-Engagement

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Erin Brigham
Adjunct Professor Catholic Theology and Ethics

Like many faculty who integrate community engagement into their teaching, I find it easy to surround myself with people who pat me on the back and cite research that supports my pedagogy.   Studies have shown and my own experience has confirmed the potential of experiential education to transform students. And through community based teaching, I have found true co-educators who share my passion for forming students to be agents of social change—at least when they graduate. But is it enough for educators to plant seeds for future change when the demand for social justice is now? I have been wrestling with this question since attending Randy Stoecker’s workshop on community engaged scholarship. Stoecker’s approach prioritizes social change over student learning—a reversal that I find both invigorating and unsettling for my work at the University of San Francisco.

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Dr. Randy Stoecker, professor of sociology at University of Wisconsin, Madison and a leader in the field of community-engaged research, recently held a full-day workshop with the University faculty and community partners

Perhaps my most important take away from the workshop was Stoecker’s challenge to think about who does the labor of research and teaching in a university/ community partnership.   I have taken for granted that reciprocity—the hallmark principle of community based learning—has guided my efforts. But so often the community does the labor—providing research questions and data; offering student learning opportunities and supervision. Stoecker challenges faculty to take the responsibility for the labor, using our training to generate knowledge-power in the community and inviting students into that exciting process.

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Ready, Set, Engage! The Authentic Video Guide to Community-Engaged Learning

Star Moore, Director of Community-Engaged Learning

Star Moore
Director of Community-Engaged Learning

The Leo T. McCarthy Center’s Communty-Engaged Learning team is currently developing a video series entitled, “Ready, Set, Engage! The Authentic Video Guide to Community-Engaged Learning”, designed to prepare undergraduate and graduate students for participation in community-engaged courses and activities. This series features University of San Francisco students, faculty, and community partners sharing their perspectives, insights, and reflections on their experiences with community-engaged learning.

Making its debut in May, this series will gradually be integrated into service-learning and community-engaged courses next fall.  A curriculum guide will be developed this summer to accompany the videos, and will offer an array of learning activities, discussion prompts, and additional resources that faculty can use to engage students more deeply with the themes and issues discussed in the series. We are also exploring the possibility of licensing and selling the series to other institutions.  For a sneak preview of the video series, we encourage you to watch the promo!

This series has been designed in collaboration with our creative and visionary filmmaker, Elizabeth Dausch, who has worked closely with us to capture compelling interviews and dynamic footage of our students in action on campus and in the community.

Sociology major, Mary Cruz is among the students featured in the series. She speaks passionately about how the community action project in the Esther Madriz Diversity Scholars Program fostered her academic learning, personal growth, and vocational calling.

We also interviewed community partner, Sam Dennison from Faithful Fools, who emphasizes the importance of entering community with an open mind and open heart.

Associate professor of sociology, Stephanie Sears described in her interview some of the community-engaged projects that have provided mutual learning and benefit for her students and community partners.

These voices, accompanied by many others, will guide students to think deeply and critically before they leave campus, so they can enter into their community-engaged experiences with humility, respect, enthusiasm, and a predisposition toward learning.


What does community-engaged learning mean to you? Share your answer in the comments section.

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