Now more students than ever before can give back to their community and be rewarded for their service, through Metro State’s UCAN Serve program. Not a bad option – and resume builder – in these tough economic times, when jobs for newly minted graduates are hard to come by.
Entering its third year on campus, UCAN Serve offers scholarships of up to nearly $2,400 to Metro State students who volunteer in the community. The program is part of AmeriCorps, which is sometimes referred to as a “domestic Peace Corps.”
The program expects to award at least $257,470 in scholarships in the coming year, according to Anders Minter, UCAN Service campus coordinator. Minter says that after piloting the program with 25 students in the Accelerated Nursing Program two years ago, and expanding it to include teacher education students last year, it is now open to the broader campus community.
“We now have students from almost every department,” Minters says. “They’re doing amazing work that’s truly changing our community.”
Minters said that UCAN Serve is “a natural fit” for students in many of Metro State’s existing programs, of which accelerated nursing and teacher education are prime examples, which already require students to fulfill service requirements to graduate. UCAN Serve can also be combined with work-study.
The importance of being involved
Kathryn Pardikes, a senior human services major, says finding UCAN Serve was fortuitous for her, as she was already doing an internship required for her degree. Working with the Victim Offender Reconciliation Program of Denver on restorative justice programs for youth shoplifters, Pardikes says UCAN Serve “reminded me of the importance of being involved in our society” and further fostered her interest in volunteering. “As I get more involved, I want to be more involved.”
“Metro State makes it so convenient” to enroll in UCAN Serve, Pardikes says. Students have flexibility in scheduling their UCAN service, with the option of choosing service terms of 300, 450 or 900 hours to be completed within one to two years. The scholarships for completed hours range from $1,000 to $2,363, which can be used to pay back student loans or be saved for graduate school or other graduate education. In addition, student loans are deferred while students serve. Pardikes, for instance, said she is now considering pursuing a master’s degree, which she hadn’t before enrolling in UCAN Serve.
Additional benefits of the program for students, according to Minters, are leadership training, job experience and skills, civic education and, of course, a boost on the resume.
Not to mention the satisfaction of helping others.
“The capacity of our students to change the community in creative ways is amazing,” Minters says.
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