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UM Presents Excellence in Community Engagement Awards

The University of Mississippi Division of Diversity and Community Engagement recently recognized outstanding accomplishments in community-engaged research, teaching, service and scholarship with its Excellence in Community Engagement Award program.

The Mississippi Region VII Science Fair made the Excellence in Community Engagement Awards Honor Roll. Submitted photo
The program was launched in 2019. Each year, one community engagement finalist project is selected from each of four project areas: research, learning, service and scholarship.

Each finalist receives a $1,000 award to further their work. One overall recipient is recognized as the year’s outstanding community engagement project, complete with a $5,000 award to further community engagement.

“The projects celebrated this year illustrate our greatest hopes and most complex challenges,” said Cade Smith, assistant vice chancellor for community engagement. “They speak to the heart of our democratic processes, educating future physicians while providing health care with the most in need, business entrepreneurship, adequate housing and reconciling our university’s painful history related to slavery and racial oppression.”

Criteria for selection include a strong collaboration between the university and partnering communities for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources while fulfilling the university’s mission of scholarly learning, research and service.

This year’s overall winner is the Voter Empowerment Project, developed by Na Youn Lee, Amy Fisher, Patricia Digby and Austin Conner, all of the UM Department of Social Work. The project contributes to two social work knowledge bases that are gaining more attention: rural and political social work.

It also has set the groundwork for future collaboration with university/community organizations in training social work students for macro practice.

The finalist projects all represent strong multidisciplinary collaborations, said Erin Payseur Oeth, project manager for community engagement in the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement.

“It shows the breadth and depth of innovative and long-term work that helps us fulfill our public mission and the civic aims of higher education,” she said.

The finalist projects are:

  • Research Finalist: Jackson Free Clinic, developed by Erin Hadley, of the School of Health Related Professions; Hunter Vanderburg, of the School of Pharmacy; and Sara Kiparizoska, Monica Nguyen, Tiffany Martin, Aalaap Desai, Ford Franklin, Tori DeBardeleben, Sean Himel, John Yi, Daniel Patterson, John Bobo, Michael Hohl, Joseph Dodd, Cat Wilkerson, Christina Miller, Sally McClung, Tilak Patel, Max Harrigill and Sarah Tramel; all of the UM Medical Center. The purpose of the Jackson Free Clinic is to provide health services to individuals in Jackson who have inadequate access to medical care. Services include physical exams, lab tests, treatment, education, preventative care, referrals and appropriate community resources. Along with the direct patient care, the mission includes student education. The clinic provides an opportunity for health care students to learn from physicians, patients and other students in a collaborative, professional setting in the community.
  • Teaching Finalist: Eastmoor Estates: Fair Housing Project, presented by Desiree Hensley, Marie Cope, Cam Abel and Jordan Hughes; School of Law. The law school’s Low-Income Housing Clinic’s efforts led to a series of additional developments, including partnerships, to further broader economic development opportunities. Not only has the project led to a safer and more stable housing situation for residents of Eastmoor, but it has become a model to encourage other municipalities and counties to take responsibility for low-income housing and those that have fallen into disrepair.
  • Service Finalist: “Moving Spirits: History of the Enslaved and Civil Rights through Movement, Dance and Song,” developed by Jennifer Mizenko and Sarah Hennigan; Department of Theatre and Film. “Moving Spirits” engaged participants in the history of enslaved people at the university using movement, dance and song.
  • Engaged Scholarship Finalist: LeadershipServ’s Excellence in Service Leadership Program, presented by Jeremy Meuser, Caleb Lugar, Andrea Blakely and Pol Solanellas; School of Business Administration. This scientifically validated program promises concrete improvements in leadership excellence, employing innovative, interdisciplinary techniques in psychology and business research to develop leaders for the future. Participants have an opportunity for self-discovery and introspection as a foundation for creating a course for servant leadership development.

Additional projects selected for the 2020 Excellence in Community Engagement Honor Roll in recognition of their contributions to community engagement include:

  • Mississippi Region VII Science Fair, Jason Ritchie, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry; and Amy Goodin and Matthew Deloach, Office of Pre-college Programs
  • Promoting Inclusive Health Care through Service-Learning in the Hispanic Community in Mississippi, Noa Valcarcel, Department of BioMolecular Sciences; and Jordan Ballou and Lauren Bloodworth, Department of Pharmacy Practice
  • School of Nursing Champ Underserved North Mississippi Communities: School of Nursing Coordinated Health Care through an Authentic Model, Anne Norwood and Lisa Haynie, School of Nursing

By Edwin B. Smith, University of Mississippi Communications

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