I’m always thankful to have a really difficult decision when it’s time to determine the recipient of the Service-Learning Award. To qualify, the candidate must have done at least 60 hours of service-learning (S-L) and demonstrated excellence in understanding the academic connection to the real world. Leadership, civic engagement, sustained commitment are also factors.
This term, we had four students who were more than qualified for the award. After fielding very compelling arguments for each of them, we very confidently settled on Ayessa Ardiente.
Ayessa’s done at least 175 hours of service-learning, across at least eight projects.
She was not only an active participant in all of these; she was a leader. She did the FAFSA project, the award-winning Palolo Stock Market Project, and the CUH100 Financial Literacy Project. As accounting club president, Ayessa was also the primary organizer of the Chaminade Student Tax Assistance program. She used the expertise from her major and her experience from S-L to develop their own project, with little assistance from faculty or staff. She got others engaged, too – this is the culture of service we love to see flourish at Chaminade University of Honolulu.
It’s interesting to hear about the S-L experience from Ayessa’s perspective. She says
“Once I started tax class and reading the tax book, I was definitely sure that tax was not for me, and I would probably have the worst time serving at the VITA sessions. However, when we started serving at the first couple of sessions, I enjoyed every bit of time I have spent in these sessions. What I realized was that relating everything in class to real world experience shows that tax can actually be a fun career.
When deciding to commit to the SL project or to do a research paper, Ayessa felt that the research paper option seemed to present her with a chance to cover 5% of her textbook. This wasn’t enough for her. She says,” Rather, if I volunteered at the VITA program, I would be able to cover everything I learned in the book and apply it to these sessions, or take everything I learn from these sessions, and be able to apply it in class in terms of taking the midterm. I would honestly say, that if I haven’t done VITA, I would have had a harder time during the midterm.”
Ayessa, it’s this pursuit of excellence and this commitment to help others that make you the perfect awardee. Thanks so much for all you’ve done.