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 firstname.lastname@example.org.