On June 7, 2019, the University of Chicago University Community Service Center (UCSC) hosted its Annual Community Impact Awards and Socially Conscious Social. It was an afternoon of fun, networking, and acknowledgement as the UCSC recognized the impactful work of nine individuals who each supported and deeply affected the civic engagement efforts of our students and our campus.
The winners of this year’s Community Impact Awards are:
Outstanding Community Mentor Award
Staff Community Impact Award
Faculty Community Impact Award
Michelle Obama Alumni Community Impact Award
Dr. Abdullah Pratt, MD‘16
President’s Volunteer Service Award
Michael Harries | Stephanie Sang
Perry Herst Prize
Kaesha Freyaldenhoven |Emma Perez | Sophia Zaller
Charles Bright, winner of the Outstanding Community Mentor Award, was nominated for the direct support he provides to compileHer, a UChicago student organization that engages middle school girls in computer science. As the principal of Bret Harte Elementary, one of the schools were where compileHer operates, Charles has a direct impact on the ability of program organizers to connect with students at his school. His nominator wrote: “Our organization’s success at Bret Harte would not have been possible without Principal Bright’s continued support and advocation. He has a genuine care for his students and pushes them to succeed every day… he is among one of the most engaging and supportive principals that compileHer has had the pleasure of working with.”
As the 2019 winner of the Staff Community Impact Award, Ravi Randhava has done tremendous work supporting student programming and growth. Through his work as Senior Director for the Center for Identity + Inclusion and Assistant Dean of Students in the University, Ravi has been a respected source of support, information, and leadership. A long-time partner in UCSC’s work over his nine years at the University, Ravi has been a leader on campus in helping students have important conversations around diversity, as well as engaging his own commitment to service over two decades of work with the Special Olympics. Ravi’s nominator wrote: “Ravi’s efforts with MLK Day, the Center for Identity + Inclusion, and his standing committee work all make the University of Chicago a better place. Most importantly, he keeps students at the center of his work… he is one of the most collaborative and helpful staff members I have the pleasure of working with at the University.”
This year’s Faculty Community Impact Award winner, Alison Anastasio, is a lecturer in the Program on the Global Environment. A gifted instructor and, in her nominator’s words, a long-time “ecological steward of several South Side parks,” Alison is supporting University students to make thoughtful academic and career choices that have a direct impact on the South Side. Alison’s nominator wrote: “Allison’s personal commitments to and deep love of the South Side's parks have activated volunteerism and understanding among her neighbors. I am constantly grateful for her enthusiasm, her willingness to experiment, and her generosity. She makes us all a little bit better.”
The Michelle Obama Alumni Community Impact Award honors the legacy of UCSC’s founding UCSC director. This year, this honor was awarded to, Dr. Abdullah Pratt, a 2016 graduate of the UChicago Pritzker School of Medicine, who is currently a second year Emergency Medicine resident at the UChicago Medical Center. As a resident at the new adult Level 1 Trauma Center, Abdullah is passionately engaged in community health, violence prevention, and youth development work across the South Side. Abdullah’s nominator wrote: “There is perhaps no greater display of selfless community service than Abdullah’s path to medicine… we are truly lucky not only to have him as an alumnus but as a physician.”
The President’s Volunteer Service Award annually recognizes two students who have demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to voluntary service in the community during the past academic year. This year’s two winners are Michael Harries, a medical student at Pritzker School of Medicine, and Stephanie Sang, a PhD candidate in the Integrative Biology Program.
Michael was recognized for his work at the intersections of medicine and youth development, and particularly for his work with a number of student organizations at Pritzker that have helped him have an impact in clinics and in schools alike. One of Michael’s nominators wrote: “As a future pediatrician, Michael will no doubt continue to make an impact as a leader, a mentor, and a volunteer for his future patients and communities.”
Stephanie was recognized for her work bringing Science Olympiad, a K-12 extracurricular seeking to increase scientific participation among women and minorities, to the University of Chicago as an RSO. One of Stephanie’s nominators wrote: “Stephanie is helping students, especially underrepresented minorities, get a better exposure to science at a younger age. She definitely made our whole organization possible.”
The Perry Herst Prize annually recognizes up to three graduating seniors in the College who have successfully integrated their academic studies with community engagement in ways that have enriched both sets of activities. The 2019 winners of the Perry Herst Prize are fourth years Kaesha Freyaldhoven, Emma Perez, and Sophia Zaller.
Kaesha was recognized for the intersections she created between her academic studies in Art History and her work on and off campus around arts education and empowerment. Her nominator wrote: “Kaesha promotes the arts around campus, exposing thousands of visitors and students to contrasting artistic ideas that provoke questions of our surroundings and contribute to the existing dialogue on campus.”
Emma was recognized for her work bridging ideas and scholarship from her Global Studies and Critical Race and Ethnic Studies majors with community voice and perspective on public safety and citizen’s rights. Her nominator wrote: “Emma has planted the seeds for future leaders to continue to work toward equity, leading to a more engaged student body not only at UChicago but with Chicago as a whole.”
Sophia was recognized for her academic studies in Public Policy around disaster preparedness and its intersections with her work elsewhere on municipal utilities and public infrastructure. Sophia’s nominator wrote: “She has served as a leader and a mentor to many students, and I am impressed by her dedication to pursuing an impactful career by leveraging her public policy major and her professional experience.”
Congratulations to all award winners, and many thanks to the groups and individuals who made this event a success!