Excellence in Community Engagement Award

The Excellence in Community Engagement Award is presented to the employee demonstrating exemplary leadership and dedication to serving the community. Qualifying activities can include participating in, developing, or promoting volunteerism, service leadership, campus outreach, community service, civic participation, and service-learning. The employee with outstanding commitment to volunteer efforts will receive a plaque, a designated parking spot, and a monetary prize. To be considered for this award, a candidate must complete an application. Co-workers may nominate a fellow employee.

2014-2015 Excellence in Community Engagement Award

Greg WaltonGreg Walton, Program Director and Instructor for Dental Laboratory Technology, is this year's award recipient.

For the past six years, Greg has been a regular volunteer with North Carolina Missions of Mercy, which is a portable free dental clinic that is an outreach program of the North Carolina Dental Society that travels across the state to provide free dental work to underprivileged adults. North Carolina Missions of Mercy began in 2003 and has held more than 100 two-day clinics across the state from the mountains to the sea. North Carolina Mission of Mercy two-day clinics have treated over 53,000 patients and have provided more than $24 million in gratuitous dental care. In North Carolina, the problem of access to dental care has reached nearly epidemic proportions. More than one million adults and children have no source for regular dental care. Many have never seen a dentist and many suffer the complications of advanced dental disease. NC Missions of Mercy provides cleanings, extractions, restorations (fillings), and partial dentures.

Every year, Greg not only participates in several of these clinics, he also gets his students involved in order to “show them what kind of difference in another’s life each one of them could make” and to help them build their professional skills. His students assist in making partials and dentures for people who otherwise would not be able to afford a dentist visit or treatments. In fact, one of his students has volunteered over 1,500 hours over the past two academic years.

Greg says of his service: “It is an absolute unbelievable experience. My service has informed my role and work as a Durham Tech employee as it has opened my eyes to how easy it is to reach out to underprivileged adults and lend a helping hand in a time of need.”

2013-2014 Excellence in Community Engagement Award

Sara JuarezThe annual Excellence in Community Engagement Award is bestowed upon the employee demonstrating exemplary leadership and dedication to serving the community. Qualifying activities can include participating in, developing, or promoting volunteerism, service leadership, campus outreach, community service, civic participation, and service-learning. This year’s recipient has modeled excellence in community engagement by utilizing service to simultaneously benefit her students and the community. Sara Juarez, Director/Instructor, Translation/Interpretation Programs in the Center for the Global Learner was the recipient of this year's award.

This semester alone, 55 of Sara's students served an average of 10 hours in the community, providing approximately 600 hours of valuable interpretation and translation services in our area. Students served Durham Parks and Recreation, Durham Public Schools, El Centro Hispano, and at community events such as health fairs and tax preparation days. These students aren’t just volunteering — they’re practicing course learning objectives and connecting these experiences to what they’re learning in the classroom through service-learning. This hands-on learning allows students to more fully understand their work and its impact than if they only studied it in a classroom setting.

Facilitating connections with the community and having students practice what they’re learning requires a lot of supervision and contact — a nearly endless loop of communication and support. But Sara feels the effort is worth it because, she says, “we need to establish and foster mutually beneficial relationships with community partners” so that students can gain skills and work experience while helping our community. As she stated, “I emphasize to students the importance of serving the community while gaining experience as paraprofessional interpreters and translators.”

Sara also leads by example, having volunteered at Urban Ministries Open Door Clinic, Durham Nativity School, and La Feria de Salud this year. In fact, she feels that her volunteer work helps her stay current in her field and allows her to better understand the community’s need for translating and interpreting services and how her program area can adapt to that need. And by volunteering herself, she hopes to show students that “we will always be students of the craft.”

2012-2013 Excellence in Community Engagement Award

Karin AbellThe annual Excellence in Community Engagement Award is bestowed upon the employee demonstrating exemplary leadership and dedication to serving the community. Qualifying activities can include participating in, developing, or promoting volunteerism, service leadership, campus outreach, community service, civic participation, and service-learning. This year’s Excellence in Community Engagement Award recipient has modeled excellence in community engagement through several different roles. Karin Abell, Program Director for English as a Second Language in the Center for the Global Learner, received this well-deserved honor.

As an individual, Karin has delivered over 7,000 books as a volunteer with Book Harvest, which provides new and gently used children’s books to children who would not otherwise have their own. Weekly, she shuttles about 350 books to a local clinic, where she’s become known as “the book lady.”

Through her innovative program outreach, Karin has coordinated one-day and multi-week trainings for over 230 area parents to learn to support their children’s educations and to minimize gaps in knowledge of the U.S. educational system, especially around college planning and financing. After securing grant funding for the project, she and her team built new relationships and enhanced existing partnerships with nine schools in all three of the school systems in Durham Tech’s service area to provide this critical training. Additionally, she incorporated service into a recent visit from the Toyama College of Foreign Languages in Japan. Inspired by a student’s idea to provide activities for children staying at the Ronald McDonald House while undergoing medical treatments, Karin organized an activity with these international visitors that not only provided 40 craft kits, but also allowed  the international visitors to learn about the Ronald McDonald House and its role in the City of Medicine.

Finally, as a club advisor, Karin has promoted service with students in the International Students Club.  After participation in several Habitat for Humanity and campus service events, she encouraged and supported the club in collecting books for Worldwide Book Drive, which distributes books to domestic and international literacy organizations. She challenged students to collect 400 books. In March 2013, the International Students Club received the organization’s Gold Award for the number of books collected—1,600, four times the initial goal!

Karin said that she thinks of herself as both a participant and promoter of service, and enjoys service because of its sense of accomplishment. She says, “Even though my job at Durham Tech provides a valuable service to the community, on a day-to-day basis it is overwhelmingly administrative, and it takes time to see the results of our work…[but with service,] I really feel like I did something that day. I feel a sense of immediate accomplishment.” She credits her dedication to service with finding the best activity to fit her interests: “In my case, the difference between thinking about serving and actually serving came down to finding the right opportunity.

2011-2012 Excellence in Community Engagement Award

Michelle GladmanMichelle Gladman was inspired to serve by Durham Tech’s 2010 graduation speaker, Peace Corps Director Aaron Williams. She provided a solo standing ovation, and vowed to “not let the momentum he inspired in me dissolve in the everyday, and often time consuming, responsibilities of grading papers, advising students, and teaching.”

She has more than kept her promise. Since then, she has volunteered over 900 hours to the Durham Crisis Response Center, where she serves as a hospital responder, accompanying survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and/or rape to the emergency room to advocate and provide support during forensic examinations, medical treatment, and law enforcement interviews. She has recently trained to become a court advocate as well, supporting survivors before, during, and after court proceedings against their abusers.

Many times when you see her at the copy machine in the morning, she has just finished one of her 16-hour overnight, on-call shifts, and she may very well be coming from spending several hours at the hospital at the side of a community member in need. Or she may be rushing off to court that afternoon. And she does all this while teaching classes, advising students, serving as Durham Tech’s Public School Liason, and completing her PhD.

In the Excellence application, Michelle mentions the benefits of her volunteer service to her understanding of herself, her discipline, and her students:

“How have I advanced Durham Tech’s mission through my community engagement? I have become a better teacher, learner, and service provider. I have taught others what being a community focused citizen is about in Durham. I have been fortunate enough to learn lessons along the way about who I am, who my community is, and what a community can do when motivated. Most importantly however, although my intent was to serve those affected by domestic and sexual violence, it is the survivors who serve me and my understanding of what a strong, resilient, and empowered woman can be, even in the worst situations imaginable. Because of that, I will always be grateful for the chance to be part of something that has changed my life in honorable, valuable, and profound ways. I am a better person now; and, it’s all because of one man who made me stand up two years ago to realize that being on my own two feet is all the strength it takes to start a new life, a better life.”

2011 Excellence in Community Engagement Award

Julie HooverJulie Hoover, instructor in Geology and Physical Science in the Arts, Sciences and University Transfer program, was awarded the inaugural Excellence In Community Engagement award at Durham Tech’s 50th Anniversary Celebration held at the Main Campus in October 2011.

Hoover has gained a reputation for creatively and enthusiastically serving her community and inspiring her students to do the same. In addition to her teaching responsibilities, she serves as Science Club advisor, leading one of the largest and most active clubs on campus. Hoover finds inspiration in her students’ commitment to service, saying, “They do the best they can every day to earn their service hours. It has really given me a respect for them and has shaped how I feel about my role as a teacher, making me more confident about the things I can encourage the students to achieve.”

Hoover created a triathlon for non-athletes in the community in which numerous Durham Tech employees and students have competed. Funds raised from the event have benefited several local charities including Durham Crisis Response and the local food bank. She helps coordinate recycling efforts on campus and participates in charity events, such as the Race for Grace. She also recently assisted in making blankets for Project Linus.

At the semicentennial celebration last month, Durham Tech President Bill Ingram recognized Hoover for her outstanding commitment, unwavering dedication, and exemplary efforts, saying, “Julie has made extraordinary contributions that have improved the well-being of the community and positively affected the learning environment at Durham Technical Community College.”