Six Montana College Students Receive Civic Engagement Scholarships

December 20, 2017

MTCC scholarship recipientsMISSOULA – Six inspiring college students throughout the state received Civic Engagement Scholarships from the Montana Campus Compact, based at the University of Montana. 

            The Civic Engagement Scholarships recognize students at MTCC affiliate campuses who have dedicated significant time and resources to volunteer projects while they are pursuing a degree or certificate. The annual scholarships are funded by MTCC’s network office and matched by affiliate campuses.

            This fall, 39 students applied for the highly competitive scholarships, each accomplishing an exemplary service effort that is making a positive difference in their institutions, communities and the world. Recipients of the awards include:

Boyce’s main volunteer activity since she started at FVCC is as a hospice volunteer, spending time with patients and providing primary caregiver respite. She also has served as a volunteer/apprentice doula and midwife for low-income women. Her goal is to become a nurse midwife after completing a master’s degree in nursing.

“I believe the well-being of an individual has a strong ripple effect on the community,” Boyce said.

  • Hailey Lee Eakin, a junior at the University of Montana majoring in social work and women’s, gender and sexuality studies with a minor in nonprofit administration.

According to a friend and mentor who has known Eakin since she transitioned from foster care into the Tom Roy Youth Guidance Home, Eakin is a committed activist in her community, as well as in her personal life. She has risen above her own personal challenges to return what she has been given. Her current volunteer efforts are primarily with Montana Women Vote and fundraising efforts with Triota, the national women’s studies honor society. She also has spent her past two summers as a member of AmeriCorps and VISTA, working with low-income populations through the Missoula Food Bank and the YWCA GUTS! (Girls Using Their Strengths) program. She hopes to use her education to create a nonprofit that provides services for LGBTQ foster youth.

Eakin said her volunteer time has deepened her understanding of the roots of issues      such as poverty, homelessness and racism.

“I envision a world in which people do not have to choose between a gallon of gas or a gallon of milk, paying rent or buying food, keeping their job or coming out as gay, staying in an abusive relationship or experiencing homelessness,” Eakin said. “Too often these are choices that people in our communities have to make.”

According to Elijah Hopkins, vice president of student services at FPCC, “Ronald engages in community service because he understands the critical need. He grew up in an area of Cleveland, Ohio, where gangs and street violence were commonplace. He believes community service is necessary to create positive influencers, attributing his commitment to community service to the Rainey Institute – a Cleveland nonprofit that changed his life.”

Martin’s main volunteer activities are through the Native Pathway’s to College Bridge Program at FPCC. His belief in the importance of education to change one’s life for the better enables him to make direct connections with students as a positive role model. He dreams of creating his own nonprofit before the age of 27 and starting a foundation that will help put more than 1 million students through school.

“My vision is to encourage, motivate and uplift children in at-risk environments to do better and follow their goals, no matter what,” Martin said. “I want to see everyone make it in life and won’t stop until I change more lives than days I spend on this earth.”

Pittman began her volunteer activities with 4-H long before she entered college. Through 4-H this past year, she started a “Go Green” project that focuses on pollution and overuse of plastics. She also volunteers as a math and science tutor and as a softball coach for young girls. She plans to use her education to become a high school math or science teacher, while also working to improve the environment.

“I want to inspire kids through my teaching to follow their dreams,” Pittman said.

Roberge volunteers many hours each month at the Friendship Center, a women’s shelter and resource center for victims of sexual assault and domestic violence in Helena. After attending 70 hours of training to become a victim’s advocate, Roberge has volunteered for 65-hour shifts on the hotline. As the first person an assault victim speaks to, she listens and empowers them to make the best decisions regarding the next steps. Her volunteer work ranges from answering the hotline to accompanying rape victims to the hospital or locating emergency housing at all hours of the day and night.

“I would like to imagine a world in which humans respect each other and treat others equally,” Roberge said. “To me, this would specifically manifest in gender equality.”

Smith is a passionate conservationist who chose MSU because of its environmental studies program. For the past 18 months, she has spent many hours volunteering with SNow (Sustainability Now) and Bounty of the Bridgers food pantry.

Through SNow she has helped bring awareness of food waste to the MSU dining halls, and the dining halls now are composting to keep food out of the waste stream. She also has helped organize ongoing clothing swaps, where proceeds go toward laundry bags that prevent clothes plastics from entering water systems. Through Bounty of the Bridgers, Smith has helped open a food pantry where every Saturday, anyone affiliated with MSU can take whatever free food they need, no questions asked. The food is collected locally from stores, restaurants and bakeries – food that would otherwise have entered the waste stream.

Smith said that environmental issues often stem from societal problems, such as financial insecurity, dangerous working conditions and a lack of environmental education within school systems. She wants to connect humanitarian efforts with the conservation movement in an environmental research and journalism career.

“I’m learning how community involvement works and how effective it can be, even on a small scale,” Smith said. “I watch the university’s waste shrink by sending food to a compost bin. Rather than use their finite funds, students can find new clothes through the clothing swap. Day-old bakery bread goes to someone’s next meal instead of needlessly going to a trash bin.”

MTCC is a 17-campus higher education network. For more information about Campus Compact and its programs and initiatives, visit http://mtcompact.org.

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Contact: Kathy Peters, administrative associate, Montana Campus Compact, 406-243-5135, peters@mtcompact.org.