Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A new semester, a new beginning

Although summer is far from over, some of us have already turned our thoughts to fall and the beginning of a new semester at UAA!  The summer has been filled with conferences and new ideas for the Center for Community Engagement & Learning, from our Civic Engagement Certificate program, one of approximately 70 majors, minors, and certificates now across the country to community partnerships and how to have our work with communities be reciprocal and mutually beneficial -- not to mention making a meaningful difference in addressing the real issues facing communities here in Anchorage and across the state of Alaska. 

What's coming up for fall?  We'll have a new AmeriCorps VISTA joining us at the end of August, Kris Katkus, who is originally from Chugiak and returning to Alaska after 5 years in Oregon.  Kris completed his Bachelor's degree and then worked for a year in a Retention program through Washington/Oregon States Campus Compact, assisting at-risk college students to stay and complete their degrees.  He will work with the ENGAGE Social Issues Liaison student leaders and coordinate this project.  Check out our progress so far at, but visit us throughout the next semester as we add more content and connect the networks of people and organizations who address these issues on an everyday basis.  Here we also tell the stories of UAA and community partnerships who are already making a difference in these areas.

We are sponsoring a new program together with the College of Education and the Department of Human Services for incoming students at UAA who are coming from foster care.  Campus Connections will be a resource through regular meetings and individualized services to mentor new freshmen who may not have the resources that they need to be successful in making the transition in this first year to managing everything at the University.  We expect to hire an additional AmeriCorps VISTA to manage this program, and we will be supervising two graduate interns from Counseling Education to provide individual mentoring.  Professors Jim Powell from the College of Education and Mike Sobocinski, Human Services Program, together with Ayeesha Hankins (Guidance 150)  met with the incoming students in July at their Educational Conference here at UAA that was arranged by DHS.

The office is gearing up, and I am off to spend at week in Klukwan as a part of the Educator's Cross-Cultural Immersion Program, sponsored by Take Wing Alaska.  I am privileged and honored to be a part of this experience and look forward to sharing it with you in a future posting!  I've been in Alaska and at UAA for exactly one year.  I love it, and I have a lot to learn! 

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