University of Colorado student David Hinojosa works out a schedule of English-language classes for the employees who work for Javier Portillo, a manager with the university's Building Maintenance Department. Hinojosa coordinates a student-run program that teaches free English classes to service workers at CU. He is being honored by the university for being civically engaged.
Paul Aiken
University of Colorado student David Hinojosa works out a schedule of English-language classes for the employees who work for Javier Portillo, a manager with the university’s Building Maintenance Department. Hinojosa coordinates a student-run program that teaches free English classes to service workers at CU. He is being honored by the university for being civically engaged.

BOULDER, Colo. –

David Hinojosa’s family immigrated from Ecuador when he was 10, and although he quickly picked up the English language, he remembers how difficult it was for his parents and older siblings.

Now, as a University of Colorado junior fluent in English and Spanish, Hinojosa spends his spare time on a volunteer project that’s close to his heart: He coordinates a program that teaches English to CU service workers. The way he sees it, he and other student volunteers are giving voices to immigrant workers and helping rid the campus of segregation that exists when students and employees don’t speak the same language.

Hinojosa is among the winners of service awards that CU’s Institute for Civic and Ethical Engagement is giving to students and employees today. Other award winners include a doctoral student teaching a course in which civic engagement is a core theme; a law professor who connects students to lawyers who need pro bono assistants; and an employee who is helping fight hate crimes in Boulder.

The awards come as the university begins its long-term push to get its entire student body — 30,000-some students — civically engaged.

Now, 13,000 students on CU’s Boulder campus are civically engaged, whether it be by volunteering at a local food bank, working on political issues, or joining the Peace Corps, said Peter Simons, director of CU’s Institute for Ethical and Civic Engagement. Students are involved through class work, programs, student groups or on their own, he said.

“Not only does the university have a civic mission to help the communities that it serves, but it has a mission to help graduate students who are civically and socially responsible, and who will do this civic engagement service as an ongoing activity throughout their lives,” Simons said.

Volunteering has been a cornerstone of Hinojosa’s college education, and he said it’s important for students to recognize how fortunate they are to be at a university and have the opportunity to better themselves.

“I think working with others who may not be as lucky as we are should be a vital part of education at this level,” he said.

Hinojosa coordinates 125 volunteers in the Student Worker Alliance Program, which teaches free English classes to CU service workers. He said the program also helps build friendships between students and workers, bridging cultures. This spring, there are 135 workers involved in the courses.

Hinojosa is also a certified Emergency Medical Technician and volunteers with Student Emergency Medical Services, a group that helps monitor parties to prevent alcohol- and drug-related deaths. The group educates incoming freshmen about the dangers of binge drinking and drug poisoning.

He has also worked with the homeless and is launching a masculinity think tank on campus to help prevent date rape and relationship violence.

CU has received national honors for its civically engaged student body.

Last year, the university was among three schools nationwide to earn a presidential award for community service.

This year, CU ranked No. 2 on the Peace Corps’ top 25 list of large schools producing the greatest number of volunteers, with 102. CU was also featured in “The Guide of Service Learning Colleges and Universities,” which highlights schools with track records of weaving community service into academic studies.

Contact Camera Staff Writer Brittany Anas at 303-473-1132 or anasb@dailycamera.com.

Archived comments

IMMIGRATION LAW: 8-17.5-101 & 102, C.R.S.

(HB 06-1343)

Effective August 7, 2006, a new Colorado law (8-17.5-101 & 102, C.R.S.) imposes requirements upon persons who have a public contract for services with state agencies or political subdivisions. This law was amended on May 13, 2008, allowing contractors to use the newly created Department Program as an alternative to E-Verify.

OVERVIEW

8-17.5-102(1)

A state agency or political subdivision shall not enter into or renew a public contract for services with a contractor who:

(1) Knowingly employs or contracts with an illegal alien to perform work under the contract, or

(2) Knowingly contracts with a subcontractor who knowingly employs or contracts with an illegal alien to perform work under the contract.

Prior to executing a public contract for services, each prospective contractor shall certify that, at the time of the certification:

(1) It does not knowingly employ or contract with an illegal alien who will perform work under the public contract for services, and

(2) That the contractor will participate in the E-Verify program or the Department Program in order to confirm the employment eligibility of all employees who are newly hired for employment to perform work under the public contract for services.

donwrege

3/17/2009 8:10:52 AM

Great job, David! CU is fortunate to have students like you.

iammine

3/17/2009 8:31:17 AM

this is very cool. to educate those who want so desperately to learn and improve, and NOT be judged by their Race or color.

t.pull@hotmail.com

3/17/2009 8:39:53 AM

A manager with the Building Maintenance Dept. and he doesn’t speak English?Another job American’s won’t do.

lucylocket

3/17/2009 8:51:22 AM

lucylocket,

It’s a shame your English comprehension skills don’t match up to your English skills. Maybe there’s a slot for you?

mattq331@msn.com

3/17/2009 9:19:58 AM

Not the manager, lucylocket, “employees who work for” the manager.

iammine

3/17/2009 9:21:04 AM

What an inspiring way to start the day!Thank you to David, and other CU students, for taking the time to make a difference in this world.Your work is greatly appreciated!

april@meer.net

3/17/2009 9:28:37 AM

Who cares if they are documented or not.These workers want to learn and improve themselves!What strikes me about Mr. Hinojosa is that he is giving back to the community.Such a refreshing change from the usual CU spoiled student articles.

sduffy294

3/17/2009 10:04:59 AM

Thank you to David and all the others! You are a huge asset to the community.

This is just the kind of news CU needs in this paper, too.

moresmilesplease

3/17/2009 10:17:11 AM

And to note that David was an immigrant himself and has given so much to our community and country. Really very inspiring.

iammine

3/17/2009 10:39:33 AM