CCELL Honors 2012 Happy Award Winners


LSU’s Center for Community Engagement, Learning, and Leadership, or CCELL, has awarded ten LSU faculty, students, and community partners with the second annual set of CCELL “Happy” Awards for excellence in service-learning.  The “Happy” was initiated to commemorate former CCELL director Jan Shoemaker’s ten years of distinguished service, commitment to education, and service for the common good.

The 2012 Happy Award recipients are: Connections for Life, community partner;  Alma Dawson,  Russell B. Long professor, library & information sciences; Highland Elementary School, community partner;  Betsy Irvine, executive director, Louisiana Delta Service Corps; Lisa Johnson, assistant professor, kinesiology; Sandy Joslyn,  graduate student, public administration and American Red Cross volunteer; Younghee Lim, associate professor, social work;  Mary Hannah Prevot, senior in art; John Scalzo, instructor, electrical engineering and computer science; and Yejun Wu, assistant professor, library & information sciences. Award citations for each winner are below.

Recipients of the award were honored at the Happy Award and Partnership Celebration on Thursday, November 8 in the Fellowship Hall of University Presbyterian Church. The celebration served as an opportunity to recognize Happy Award winners and honor the work of all members of the service-learning community.


Connections for Life and Executive Director Karen Stagg
For over 12 years, LSU service-learning students in Sharon Andrews’ English composition and Intro to Poetry classes have worked alongside women in the Connections for Life program, a Baton Rouge non-profit agency committed to helping indigent women transition to independent lives. Students work with Connections For Life all semester long to build relationships with the residents and gain an understanding of the agency’s mission. A true community partner, Karen Stagg works closely with the instructor in the development of activities and assignments that will benefit service-learning students, program residents, and the greater community. Connections hosts a student orientation at the beginning of the semester and celebration dinner at the end; they engage in dialogue with students at the agency and in the classroom; and residents participate with students in special events, all to facilitate greater awareness and understanding of complex community issues.

Alma Dawson, Russell B. Long professor, library & information sciences
For many years, hundreds of graduate students working with Dr. Alma Dawson in Library and Information Sciences have applied skills and knowledge learned in the classroom to provide important services to libraries. Students have worked with numerous community partners including public libraries statewide; academic, medical, law and school libraries; and archive centers to provide user instruction, preservation of historic documents, collection development activities, and identifying new services.  The course is offered every semester, and each time Dr. Dawson finds the perfect location and project for each student. The strong relationship between SLIS and the libraries in many different parishes has been enhanced, and the students gain confidence in their abilities to apply what they learn in class.

Highland Elementary School, accepted by Principal Kaye Van Sickle
For over 10 years, more than 2,000 volunteers have walked through the doors of Highland Elementary; it is estimated that 85- 95% of those volunteers are students, faculty, staff, or alumni of LSU. Through the efforts of the LSU community and service-learning students, every child in first through fifth grade has a reading friend, one-on-one tutor, friend, and encourager. In addition to serving as Reading Friends, service-learning students have assisted with art projects, science lessons, math skills, school gardens, playground builds, language skills, and counseling services. Highland’s welcoming attitude makes possible an unprecedented volunteer program which has won many awards but most importantly impacts the lives of children and those who serve them. LSU volunteers report that Highland changes their lives, saying they learn so much, become more patient and compassionate, and learn to appreciate their own privilege. Over the years, the partnership between LSU and Highland Elementary has greatly benefitted hundreds of college and elementary school students.  

Betsy Irvine, executive director, Louisiana Delta Service Corps
Betsy Irvine has been a true community partner to LSU service-learning in many different ways. As executive director of Louisiana Delta Service Corps, Betsy has served as a community partner to many  different service-learning classes. Public Relations students who worked with her in Spring 2012 described her as “fabulous,” “awesome,” and “wonderful.” Betsy also serves on the LSU Community Engagement Advisory Council, and has volunteered her time to work on numerous subcommittees, most recently helping to develop and review a new process to designate service-learning classes. Betsy also has served as a liaison between CCELL and University Presbyterian Church, one of CCELL’s strongest supporters and winner of a 2011 Happy Award. She helps to facilitate UPC’s University Community Outreach grants and the Celebration Event funds, both of which support LSU service-learning classes’ work with the community.

Lisa Johnson, assistant professor, kinesiology
In Dr. Lisa Johnson’s Exercise Testing and Prescription class, students have the opportunity to provide exercise classes to older adults at the Leo S. Butler Community Center in Old South Baton Rouge. The partnership between Dr. Johnson and the Leo S. Butler Center, now in its ninth year, is one of LSU’s most enduring service-learning partnerships. Dr. Johnson’s Geaux Heart initiative also provides services for seniors by providing access to free health screenings to older adults throughout the community. In addition, KIN 3609: Teaching Wellness Education provides pedestrian and bike safety training at Polk and Buchanan elementary schools as part of the Safe Route to School program.  Dr. Johnson manages multiple partnerships throughout each semester and provides multiple opportunities throughout the students’ curriculum to participate in service-learning.

Sandy Joslyn, Red Cross volunteer and LSU student
As a long-time American Red Cross volunteer and 2012 graduate of LSU Disaster Science Management, Sandy Joslyn serves as a liaison between the Red Cross and the Disaster Science Management program. Working closely with Red Cross staff and Disaster Science Management professors, she connects students with service-learning opportunities and speaks in classes each semester to give students an overview of the American Red Cross. Sandy always goes above and beyond to direct fellow students to service opportunities with the American Red Cross. She is relied on to provide guidance and support to volunteers from LSU and help them integrate into American Red Cross’ volunteer structure. Now studying in the Masters of Public Administration program at LSU, Sandy has continued her work with the American Red Cross.

Mary Hannah Prevot, LSU student, Department of Art
As a 2012 Service-Learning Leader, Mary Hannah helps to coordinate ART 4020: Art & Activism, taught by Derick Ostrenko. Her passion for integrating social responsibility and digital art has been integral to motivating other students in the class and in forming a strong partnership between the class and Special Olympics. This semester, students in the class are working on various projects for Special Olympics, including producing training videos to prepare volunteers at their Outdoor Games and preparing interactive digital exhibits for the Special Olympics Indoor Games which will be held in March. Mary Hannah’s enthusiasm for service has even motivated other students in the class to consider completing their senior projects for non-profit organizations next semester. When she graduates in May, she hopes to find a profession that will allow her to use her skills and experience to promote social change.

Younghee Lim, associate professor, social work
Service-learning research conducted in Dr. Younghee Lim’s Advanced Social Policy class fulfilled a need identified by Louisiana Association of Nonprofit Organizations (LANO) and Louisiana Budget Project (LBP). Students researched the prevalence of payday loans among Louisiana bankruptcy filers. The purpose of this research is to develop and promote a policy proposal to affect positive change as related to alternative financial services. Not only was this research shared with the Louisiana Fair Lending Coalition and the national Fair Lending Coalition, the Louisiana Budget Project will be using it in a forthcoming report.  The results of Dr. Lim’s service-learning project have informed Louisiana budget policy and have the potential to improve the lives of financially fragile individuals in the state.

John Scalzo, instructor, electrical engineering and computer science
Since 2011, John Scalzo, has worked with student teams in his capstone senior design course as they partner with a local high school to develop, create and present an engineering design.  Mr. Scalzo has incorporated very practical and meaningful experiences for both the high school and college students participating.  He works in conjunction with his senior design students to assist the BRMHS Robotic Team, and has supervised the LSU students as they constructed a centrifuge machine to be used in all physics classes at BRMHS. Mr. Scalzo also volunteers as a guest speaker for the high school and science fair judge.

Yejun Wu, assistant professor, library & information sciences
Dr. Yejun Wu has been integrating service-learning into his graduate level Information Technologies course since Spring 2009, challenging students to create professional websites that provide a lasting value to libraries and non-profit organizations. Students begin their work with the organizations by determining what the organizations need and want from their websites. Over the semester, the students then develop and deliver a website that the organization can take over and maintain for the future. Since first offering the class, Dr. Wu’s has guided approximately 160 students in the creation of websites for 18 non-profit organizations and/or libraries. This achievement is made even more remarkable by the fact that Dr. Wu’s class is 100% web-based, and his students are located in areas spread throughout the state.