For 35 years, Cal Poly's Community Service Awards have been presented to students, faculty, staff, and community partner agencies for their contributions to the quality of life in San Luis Obispo and their spirit of civic engagement.
Awards are given to highlight specific achievements in service. The awards are selected on the basis of the written nomination by a panel of faculty, staff and students. President Armstrong personally recognizes award recipients for their efforts. For a list of previous award recipients please click here.
Congratulations 2021 Winners
Daisy Gonzales & Austin Jones
Service Learning - Student Team
Daisy Gonzalez and Austin Jones have been awarded the Service Learning – Student Team award for their participation in the Lives Well Lived project under the direction of Cal Poly lecturer Dr. Sara Bartlett. As sociology and psychology majors, respectively, Daisy and Austin were tasked with interviewing an older adult for the duration of one quarter in an effort to facilitate intergenerational service learning. Daisy and Austin are described by the woman they were matched with as remarkable human beings in their willingness to connect with older generations and offer their own perspectives as young adults.
Dr. Sara Bartlett
Service Learning - Faculty
Dr. Sara Barlett, PhD is a lecturer in the Psychology & Child Development and Social Sciences Departments at Cal Poly who has been awarded the Service Learning – Faculty community service award. She received her Bachelors in Psychology and Minor in Human Development with an emphasis in Gerontology from U.C. Davis, her Masters of Social Work with an older adult concentration from U.C. Berkeley, and her Doctorate of Clinical Social Work from the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Bartlett is passionate about service with older adult populations, especially in the context of intergenerational relationships and interaction patterns between generations. As such, she has developed a Lives Well Lived service program as part of her Psychology of Aging classes. Students are matched with an older adult and conduct a series of interviews throughout the quarter to write a memoir project on that senior’s life. Even when faced with challenges due to COVID-19, Dr. Bartlett’s quick pivot to a virtual version of this program helped decrease loneliness during a time of increased isolation and ensured that her students were still able to experience the benefits of service-learning.
Educators of Color Club
Significant Contribution - Organization
The Educators of Color club has received the award for Significant Contribution – Organization this year. Established in Fall 2020, Educators of Color has worked tirelessly to support current and aspiring teachers of color so that they can be successful within their institutions. They have also made contributions to the overall SLO community. They have organized a toy drive for farmworkers’ children during the holidays, provided school supplies to kids during distanced learning, purchased over $1,000 worth of groceries for farmworkers and their families, and much more. Pictured is club president and founder, Cecilia Guzman.
Significant Contribution - Student
Larisa Williams is a senior Nutrition major at Cal Poly who has received the 2021 Significant Contribution – Student community service award. Larisa’s involvement in the larger SLO community is vast and diverse. She has volunteered at Pacheco Elementary School, helping beginning band members through her involvement with the Mustang Band and Kappa Kappa Psi, the music service fraternity. Additionally, she volunteers with Meals that Connect, and has volunteered at First Fruits Farm as a member of Grace Central Coast. As part of a recent food management class, Larisa helped the class partner with the Cal Poly Food Pantry to provide bento box meals to students on the go. Her involvements with service have contributed to a more positive and connected Central Coast.
AmeriCorps Member of the Year
Oscar Velasco-Vargas is the recipient of the 2021 AmeriCorps Member of the Year award. A graduate of Cal Poly’s history department, Oscar is completing his second year as an AmeriCorps VIP member in SLO County. He previously served at the Boys and Girls Club in South SLO County, and is currently serving at the Cal Poly Food Pantry with Campus Health & Wellbeing. Oscar has worked tirelessly to address food insecurity on Cal Poly’s campus by fostering relationships with local food producers, hosting monthly pop-ups at Front Porch, and revitalizing the pantry even during the pandemic. Oscar is often described as a role model by those who know him, and has gone above and beyond to demonstrate his commitment to food equity through his service.
Veterinary Community Service Enterprise
Outstanding Campus-Community Collaboration
Under the direction of Dr. Jennifer Staniec, the Veterinary Community Service Enterprise has been awarded the Outstanding Campus-Community Collaboration award. A member of the Cal Poly Animal Sciences department, Dr. Staniec teaches the Vet Clinic Enterprise, as well. Building off this hands-on, experiential learning course that provides students with the opportunity to apply basic veterinary skills, the students in the Veterinary Community Service Enterprise practice veterinary services to pets of the local homeless population. This enterprise has continued to host clinics at various locations while also collaborating with community outreach facilities to identify populations of individuals whose needs have not previously been met. A native of Tennessee, Dr. Staniec has been a member of the San Luis Obispo community for 16 years, where she practices veterinary medicine, enriching this service-learning opportunity for students with her practical knowledge.
Kappa Alpha Theta
Greek Community Contribution
The Zeta Theta chapter of Kappa Alpha Theta has received this year’s award for Greek Community Contribution for their successful virtual philanthropy event hosted this past fall quarter. To raise money for Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) for children in the foster care system, Kappa Alpha Theta created a CrowdChange page and hosted a virtual silent auction to encourage people to donate. They raised $12,618.30 to finance training for four advocates, which is exponentially higher than in-person fundraisers from previous years. Kappa Alpha Theta hopes to continue their philanthropic efforts in the SLO community for many years to come. Pictured are Kelly Kavousi, Chief External Affairs Officer and Rachel Nebel, Fundraising Director.
Transitions-Mental Health Association – Growing Grounds Enterprises
Outstanding Community Partner
Growing Grounds Enterprises has been awarded the Outstanding Community Partner award. A group of enterprises of Transitions Mental Health Association (TMHA), Growing Grounds has provided therapeutic horticulture and vocational training to adults living with mental illness for over 35 years. Adults with severe mental illnesses encounter a high national unemployment rate. To address this need, TMHA serves 90+ clients annually to provide them with a multi-step vocational training program from the fields to the nurseries, and beyond to the local community. Growing Grounds has additionally forged an exemplary relationship with Cal Poly that has allowed students to volunteer alongside clients and raise mental health awareness in the SLO community. Pictured is Frank Ricceri, Vocational Services Director.