Community Engagement Recognition Awards 2021 & 2022
Jennifer McKee Student Award
The award recognizes a student whose work with Simmons Community Engagement has made a unique and lasting contribution to the college's commitment to engagement. Jennifer McKee helped build the legacy of community engagement with her exceptional leadership, vision, determination, and a sense of purpose. Students receiving this award exhibit these same traits:
- Leading, inspiring and engaging peers in co-curricular community engagement.
- Demonstrated collaborative partnership with community partner organization(s).
- Commitment to the values of equity and social justice.
- Thoughtfully addresses challenges and obstacles.
- Demonstrated commitment to sustainable community engagement programs and partnerships.
Major: Nursing and public health minor
Class Year: 2021
Favorite Memory: My favorite community engagement moment is the day before every Simmons chapter SWSG field trip. All the mentors would throw on a great playlist while we made sandwiches and snacks, decorated the LKP, and sort last minute logistics for the mentees and their field trip experience! It was always filled with so much laughter and bonding within our chapter!
Major: Literature (Bachelors) and Elementary Education (Masters)
Class Year: 2023
Favorite Memory: My favorite memory from my Jumpstart service would have to be during my first year when I was in the dramatic play area playing doctor with the children. There was a lot of commotion about who wanted to wear the doctor's coat and fighting about who would act as the nurse but when we reached the end of the day for sharing and goodbye, one boy shared that after playing with me, he wanted to grow up and be a doctor. While I'm sure that he will change his mind a hundred more times about what he wants to be when he grows up, it was one of those moments that solidified my dream of teaching.
Emerging from a 2-year hiatus, Alternative Spring Break was in need of a leader with vision, organization, patience, and enduring flexibility. We were lucky to get that in Fay Qian. Single-handedly jumpstarting the ASB organizing efforts, Fay distinguished herself as a collaborative leader in inclusivity and community outreach. She demonstrated exceptional organizational skills, creativity, and is mature in the operations of group leadership, including overcoming obstacles. In a very consolidated window of time, Fay created an enriching ASB program focused on community, social justice, and fighting for equality.
Anyone that has met Cassidy knows she is committed to the community around her! In addition to serving as a Team Leader for Jumpstart AmeriCorps and Co-President of Simmons Social Work Liaison, Cassidy is also a National Association of Social Workers Student Ambassador & supports a crisis response unit. I have the pleasure of getting to work with Cassidy in her Jumpstart role for the past 3 years. She strives to build a sense of community within her team by recognizing & celebrating each person's individuality. She is always willing to help others, lead by example, be innovative and offer solutions all while being reflective on how she wants to keep growing. As one of her many nominations said, “She has resiliency, tenacity, and creativity that never fails to instill strength and accomplishment in those she interacts with.”
Judith Botelho Commitment Award
This award recognizes a student who exemplifies the commitment to community service that Judith Botelho demonstrated as a student and AmeriCorps*VISTA during her six years at Simmons:
- Outstanding participation and leadership in service to the community beyond the campus,
- Demonstrates personal motivation and commitment to engagement
- Evidence student has worked selflessly and effectively in addressing social causes.
- Engagement in community service across multiple years;
Major: Neuroscience and Behavior
Class Year: 2021
Favorite Memory: I'll never forget the day that we had a new child join our classroom and after I said hello to him and sat with him for our opening circle time, he started introducing me to everyone at the preschool as his new best friend for weeks.
Major: Political science and arts administration double major
Class Year: 2021
A favorite community engagement memory: In what I think was my second year with America Learns, I had been working with one student regularly for at least a year but one day I was working with his younger sister instead. She and I were working on her reading homework and she was starting to get frustrated with me for asking her to sound out words instead of just reading them to her. Her brother noticed, came over, and told her to do what I wanted her to because "she will make you a better reader". This memory has given me so much energy and motivation over the years and honestly just makes me so happy.
Maddie's leadership and dedication during her 4 years with Jumpstart AmeriCorps make her a natural honoree for this award. The pandemic caused Maddie to experience 4 very different years of programming, but her passion for the program's mission & dedication to the preschool children in JP never wavered. She is intentional in everything she does for the program - the materials she makes, the way she interacts with the children both in-person, the support she provides staff at the partner site, and how she builds and develops relationships among her peers. As one of her nominators said, “she is kind, quietly confident, and a strong listener. She works endlessly to make sure everyone she works with can achieve their best selves. I feel inspired by her work everyday and she makes me want to be a better leader.”
I have had the pleasure of working with Elise Nason over the past two years. As an academic mentor with America Learns during the 2020-2021 academic year, Elise piloted online reading rooms with first graders at Orchard Gardens. Still grappling with the uncertainty of the pandemic, Elise's engagement with this project ensured the continuation of America Learns through a difficult period. Not dismayed by the uncertainty that is community engagement during a pandemic, Elise returned to America Learns but this time as a Student Leader for the 2021-2022 academic year. During this time, Elise helmed our student leader group as well as independently rebooting our partnership with Steps to Success in Brookline Public Schools. Elise has exemplified professionalism, motivation, and an enduring commitment to community engagement and addressing social causes.
Community Engagement Emerging Leader Award
This award recognizes a student who has made significant contributions to the community and lead by example early in their time at Simmons.
- Recipients have shown a passion and affinity for engaging the community beyond campus and have demonstrated emerging leadership and continuing engagement/service.
- Has gone above and beyond for an organization, group, project, or event related to community engagement
- Furthered the mission of Simmons Community Engagement
Major: Social Work
Class Year: 2024
My favorite experience has been understanding the world from the point of view of children and developing activities that help increase their knowledge while still being engaging!
Alisa is the program assistant specializing in communications for the Center for Community Engagement. Alisa has gone above and beyond in her work, not only reflecting on which community partners we have not yet made a connection with but also how we can better promote the work of our current community partners. A restless work ethic and incredible drive -- Alisa is an emerging leader!
Paula has stood out as a natural leader within Jumpstart this year leading by example both in and out of the classroom. She makes learning come to life for the children with her engaging & creative videos, rich language, and intentional interactions. She is always willing to support her teammates - whether it's answering a question, helping with a video edit, or taking on other's responsibilities because they need help. She treats those around her with kindness and approaches the community with care and respect. As one nominator said, “It has been an honor getting to see her work and I feel I have grown so much in my abilities from working with her.”
Community-Based Learning Award
This award recognizes a student (a group of students) for their dedication and leadership in a community-based learning component of a course that goes above and beyond expectations. Recipients of this award demonstrate commitment to excellence in both academic accomplishment and community impact such as:
- Leading, inspiring and engaging peers in community-based learning.
- Proactively engaging with the community partner; demonstrating interest in reciprocity/mutual benefit.
- Exhibiting skill in critical reflection and integration of course content with community-based experience.
- Overall dedication to a meaningful and successful community-based learning experience.
Major: 3+3 Exercise Science/DPT
Class Year: 2023
Elizabeth Girard, Sydney Iannontuono, Kiani Jacobs, Lena Solomon
This group of 4 students work together in a service-learning group within BIO246: Foundations of Exercise and Health.This group of students currently partners with Rogerson House in Jamaica Plain developing and implementing various activities for elderly residents in various stages of Dementia. The level of engagement, critical self reflection individually and as a group to improve each week, as well as commitment to integrate course material and personal experiences into meaningful programming has been a joy to watch develop. All 4 students are pursuing different careers in healthcare and have personal experiences in community engagement which they bring to this service learning experience. This group is admired by the residents as well as their classroom from the level of commitment they bring to this course project.
Abhilasha Natarajan is an undergraduate double major at Simmons University in Social Work and Fine Arts. She is highly motivated and is always there to support, guide and inspire her fellow students. Abhilasha is dedicated to leadership in our community-based learning environment and goes above and beyond to engage her fellow students. Some of her accomplishments in leadership within our community and beyond are:
Community based learning: she successfully implemented information from Macro Social Work and applied for and led a grant for isolated seniors within the community.
Utilized learned skills from a bookmaking course at Simmons to lead a bookmaking class with seniors when the COVID-19 restrictions were lifted.
Employed a real need for Parkinson's support group for caregivers. This was a group assignment with her other classmates. Abhilasha took a leadership role to develop a group intervention using cognitive behavioral therapy. She was able to take this to her internship and implement these interventions while working with the Parkinson's community.
Co-facilitated a pioneer informational/support group for LGBTQ+ community members who have Parkinson's disease.
Steve London Faculty/Staff Community Engagement Award
This award is named in honor of Professor Emeritus Steve London, founding director of the Scott/Ross Center for Community Service, now named Simmons Community Engagement. The award recognizes a faculty or staff member who has shown commitment and passion to engage our students with the communities of Boston.
- The recipient of this award has an extraordinary passion for justice for the people and neighborhoods of our city and is a tireless advocate for service-learning and community-engaged teaching across the university.
- Their accomplishments exemplify and enhance the mission of Simmons Community Engagement as their actions simultaneously enrich the educational experience of our students and the lives of members of our greater community.
Katie Novick Nolan
Simmons School of Social Work
BSW Program Director
Associate Professor of Practice
Service learning is at the center of social work education as it provides students with their first experience of applying social work core competencies and values to their work with individuals, families, and communities. Through this experience, students learn the importance of engagement, cultural humility, and competence while working to support members of the communities they serve.
Eugenia Correia Knight
Simmons School of Social Work
Director of BSW Field Education
Associate Professor of Practice
As a Boston native my role at Simmons is in continued service to my city. My primary role here is as a catalyst for social justice and service learning is critical in challenging and inspiring students to disrupt inequities. "He who learns must teach" is an African Proverb that has been my life motto for decades as it reflects taking what has been given to you with a great responsibility to give back. Service learning is really a gift to those who get to serve.
Professor Randi Lite
Professor Michael Welch
Outstanding Community Partner Award
This award recognizes a community partner for sustained partnership with Simmons University in a spirit of collaboration and mutual benefit as evidenced by:
- The community partner's active and effective collaboration in the development, design, implementation and/or evaluation of project(s) or activities undertaken in partnership with a course or program at Simmons.
- The community's partner's commitment to clear and regular communication about their own needs and capacity, and willingness to provide feedback about how the relationship is progressing and community impact.
- The community partner's interest in and commitment to student development as an a element of a successful partnership.
Rogerson House has been a pivotal partner for Simmons in the past academic year, working with undergraduate and graduate students across four different programs, all virtually. They have demonstrated a creative and sustained commitment to working with our students in ways that can enrich their own programming while providing valuable learning experiences. As one faculty member remarked, "The Rogerson House Community provided a warm welcome to our students and a great interactive experience. The student interactions with resident community members were engaging, and the helpful feedback from staff members each week allowed for a positive and active learning experience. We can't thank Rebekah, Anna and the whole Rogerson team enough for their commitment each week to our student-run sessions." We look forward to continuing this productive partnership into the future.
Stephanie Aines, Right Care Alliance
Stephanie Aines has been an incredible community partner for the MPH program at Simmons University since 2019.
During this time Stephanie has welcomed MPH students to Right Care Alliance, serving as their supervisor, to complete their service-learning requirement for the course Community Organizing, Health Advocacy, and Innovation. Besides Right Care Alliance's (RCA) mission and values of health as a human right aligning with those of the program, Stephanie's embodiment of the same, as well as her commitment to working alongside community leaders and people affected by the injustice of the US healthcare system has made her role as part of students' education priceless. Stephanie has made sure that opportunities for students give students the very unique opportunity to "get their hands dirty" with community organizing and see the importance of this work to public health and health equity. She gives students a level of responsibility that instills in them confidence to do this work, which they don't usually begin the course with!
Of special note: When the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020, Stephanie readily transitioned to offering remote opportunities to students. She put forth an extra–and exceptional–effort to guide and support them during such a time of uncertainty, which she was also experiencing in her personal life.
Understandably, the service-learning experience should be mutually beneficial for students and community partners. Stephanie makes time to check in with faculty at least once or twice a year to provide an update on the issues that RCA is engaging around and the different tactics and events that students might get a chance to help organize. She also regularly inquires about what students are learning in class so that the service-learning indeed complements the theory aspect of the course. As supervisor, Stephanie meets with students regularly, responds to their questions or concerns, and provides evaluations of their work.
This partnership with Stephanie and Right Care Alliance has been truly fruitful, not only for the MPH program but also for students and the community members. Indeed, some students have continued working with RCA beyond their service-learning requirement! It's been a pleasure to work with Stephanie over these past years, and I'm honored to be able to nominate her for this award.
Newman Civic Fellowship
Class Year: 2023