Happy Award Honors Extraordinary Contributions to Service-Learning at LSU

BATON ROUGE, LA --The Center for Community Engagement, Learning, and Leadership (CCELL) is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2018-2019 Happy Awards. 

The award ceremony will be held Thursday, February 21, 2019 at University Presbyterian Church, located at 3240 Dalrymple Dr., from 5-7:30 p.m.

The honorees are:

  • Dr. Jinx C. Broussard; full professor and the Bart R. Swanson endowed professor in the Manship School of Mass communication, for steadily increasing awareness of organ, tissue, and eye donation through her MC 4005: PR Campaigns course. Her students have partnered with the Louisiana Organ Procurement Agency to “Make Life Happen”—LOPA’s core purpose—by creating campaigns with deliverables such as fliers, buttons, bus bench backs, awareness events, and even a podcast episode. Because of this seven-year partnership, the Louisiana Donor Registry has increased by more than 1,000 names.
  • Partnering with Laurie Drummond, instructor in the English department, LSU librarians Randa Lopez Morgan and David Dunaway have created a resource guide that helps ENGL 2000: Animal Welfare and the Natural World students find useful issues and conduct research to address the course’s objectives. Morgan and Dunaway, librarians in agriculture and science respectively, actively update the guide every semester to reflect the most current sources available.
  • Graduating senior Tia Jordan, an English major, served as MLK committee chair person for two consecutive years, partnering with organizations across campus and the Baton Rouge community to promote MLK’s legacy. Her leadership capacity as chair impacts five subcommittees, one for each event of MLK week – including Day of Service. She is also a Genesis Tutor, a Spring fest Team Leader, and an LSU ambassador.
  • Mary Ellen Day is the physical science teacher at Iberville Math, Science, and Arts Academy and partners with OCS 4242: Wetlands and Water Quality. Day has greatly influenced the course’s engagement efforts by suggesting LSU students discuss college preparation, majors, and careers in addition to their interactive demos illustrating the functions and values of wetlands. Day is also the service coordinator for the Coastal Roots Program, an initiative that teaches students from 2nd grade through high school how to establish native plant nurseries that will be planted in a coastal habitat restoration project in South Louisiana and in Chile, South America.
  • Sadie Wilks, instructor in the Manship School of Mass Communication and her MC 4005: PR Campaign students also partner with the Louisiana Organ Procurement Agency to increase organ, eye, and tissue donation and LA Donor Registry awareness. During the summer of 2017, Wilks and students teamed up with LOPA to create a media campaign for a donor dad who bicycled from Wisconsin to Louisiana in order to meet his daughter’s heart recipient. Their collaboration made it possible for this heart-warming story to be seen worldwide: the viral video has amassed 180 million views and has been translated into over 18 different languages.
  • Two exceptional students who completed ENGL 2000: Animal Welfare & the Natural World have not only continued to regularly help the Companion Animal Alliance, an open intake shelter, but have chosen to undertake one of the shelter’s greatest needs: fostering animals. Sociology major Maria Musso has fostered 13 dogs for the CAA and Bark & Roll Rescue. Samantha Aldridge, music major, has fostered 3 dogs and over 15 kittens/cats for CAA and 10 dogs for Dante’s Hope Rescue. Fostering frees up kennel space for other animals in need and more quickly leads to adoptions because the animals’ true personalities have emerged in a home environment.
  • While an undergraduate at LSU, Stephanie Elwood co-founded a community organization that built sustainable community gardens in Baton Rouge with the help of her working partner, Marguerite Green. Since 2011, Elwood has continued her mission of increasing access to healthy, fresh produce across Baton Rouge as Extension associate with the Community and School Garden Programs at Southern University Ag Center. She has been a cornerstone of support for numerous service-learning courses at LSU since 2011, teaching gardening skills and helping to facilitate community partnerships for LSU students to participate in.
  • As part of CCELL’s contract option initiative, LSU faculty and students collaborate on the best way to integrate service-learning principles into standard courses. Together, they identify how service will address the learning objectives and select a community site where the student will volunteer a minimum of 10 hours over the semester.
    • Katherine McKenzie is a science teacher at the Louisiana School for the Visually Impaired, an institution that offers academic, career and social opportunities to blind and visually impaired students. She partners with LSU mechanical engineering senior Macie Coker (as part of the capstone ME design course) to introduce aerospace and chemistry concepts to students through hands-on, fun experiments in her classroom.
    • Kathy Coleman is the Board of Directors’ secretary for Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Information Center of Louisiana (GRGICL), an organization that offers both information and support to grandparent and other kinship caregivers along with their families. She partners with Visiting Professor of English Rebekah Frumkin and five ENGL 2005: Intro to Short Story students to capture the unique biographical accounts from grandparents who would not normally have the opportunity to share their lived experiences.

Collectively, these community partners, students, and faculty represent the highest ideals of reciprocal service-learning partnerships.

Happy Awards are given annually to ten individuals to recognize excellence in service-learning. The “Happy” was initiated to commemorate former CCELL director Jan Shoemaker’s 10 years of distinguished service, commitment to educate and provide service for the common good. Happy Award recipients receive a commemorative lapel pin, which was designed by service-learning students based on input from Shoemaker’s friends and colleagues. Award recipients can be faculty, students, and community partners. The nomination period is in the fall.