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UT News

Taking the lead

The inaugural class of Service Scholars, a program dedicated to community service, was inducted recently. The group of 37 students plan to complete 11,100 hours of community service by 2013.

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What has 74 helpful hands and will complete 11,100 hours of community service by the year 2013?

To answer this riddle, look no further than the team of 37 University of Texas at Austin students officially inducted into the UT Service Scholars program at a ceremony on the Mayor’s Balcony at Austin City Hall March 28.

The students are part of the inaugural class of Service Scholars, an interdisciplinary program launched in 2010 by the Volunteer and Service Learning Center to recognize students’ dedication to community service and challenge them to new levels of excellence in service and leadership. Eleven of the 37 students helped launch the program as part of the founding leadership team.

In order to become Service Scholars, the students went through a rigorous application process and completed 50 hours of community service. During their tenure in the Scholars program, they will continue to complete 100 service hours each year until they graduate, and will attend trainings in areas such as leadership, program management and community organizing. The program combines service learning with “an impressive set of resources around the campus and city,” said inductee Matthew Halpern, a sophomore electrical engineering major, and empowers students to “hone their leadership skills and broaden their technical skill set.”

The ceremony was led by Sarah Classen, UT Service Scholars chair, and included a welcome by Dr. Gregory J. Vincent, vice president of diversity and community engagement, who thanked the students for helping the university fulfill its mission to serve the people of Texas.

Austin councilmember and alumna Randi Shade (B.A. ’88),  gave the keynote address, telling the group about her own path of leadership in service. Shade, who served as UT student body president prior to her public service career, told the Service Scholars, “You’re on a great trajectory, and I thank you.”

Also on hand to congratulate the students were Andy Mormon, chief service officer for the City of Austin , Dr. Shannon Speed, assistant vice president for diversity and community engagement, and several members of the UT Service Scholars community advisory committee.

Inductee Rachel Sherman, a sophomore double majoring in English and international relations and global studies, was pleased with the ceremony. “From the speakers, to the food, to the beautiful Austin City Hall terrace, it could not have been better,” she said. “It was great to receive recognition for our first 50 hours of service and finally be inducted as an official Service Scholars member.”