Six WNC community agencies win WCU partnership awards

Western Carolina University recently presented six Western North Carolina community agencies with Service Learning Partnership Awards in recognition of exemplary collaboration with university students and faculty working on community service projects that are linked to the academic curriculum.

“These community partners are providing a valuable learning experience to students by allowing them to put their academic knowledge and skills to use in ‘real-world’ situations,” said Glenn Bowen, director of Western’s Service Learning Program. “By the same token, our students and other university personnel are giving back to the community and helping improve the social, cultural and economic life of our region.”

Recipients of 2007 Service Learning Partnership Awards:

  • Jimmi Buell, health educator, Jackson County Department of Public Health. In spring semester, Buell collaborated with Paul Jacques, WCU assistant professor of management, on a service-learning project for one of his management classes. Students conducted a “walkability” assessment in Sylva to determine what areas need improvement to facilitate a walking-for-exercise program.
  • Dr. Alberto Bernal Millan, a Mexican physician. Millan dedicated four weeks to helping WCU Spanish students improve their Spanish language proficiency, focusing on real-life clinical scenarios so that students would be ready to serve as interpreters during their service time at the Good Samaritan Clinic of Jackson County, as well as at the first bilingual health fair, “Cuida tu salud – Take Care of your Health,” last October.
  • Paul Strop, English as a Second Language Program coordinator with Jackson County Public Schools. Strop’s collaboration with WCU’s modern foreign languages department resulted in a successful ESL program through which WCU Spanish students fulfilled a course requirement. He shared his expertise in second language acquisition and Latin American culture with students in upper-level Spanish courses to prepare them for tutoring at Cullowhee Valley School.
  • Pardee Hospital of Henderson County. Through their partnership, Pardee and Western bring educational opportunities at the graduate level in the field of gerontology to working professionals through a combination of distance and continuing education activities. In cooperation with the Henderson County medical and allied health community, Pardee and Western have organized and presented the “Great Life Series” of healthy aging education programming at Pardee Education Center and various other community sites.
  • The Small Business and Technology Development Center. A business development service of the University of North Carolina system, the Western regional office of the SBTDC serves the 14 westernmost counties of North Carolina from offices in Cullowhee and Asheville. The center assisted in organizing 15 service learning projects in 10 courses and independent studies, supporting more than 100 students. It provided similar support in the past with its sponsored student projects providing nearly 5,000 hours of service in 2006.
  • The Town of Sylva. Municipal officials led by Jay Denton, town manager, and Stacy Knotts, town board member, collaborated this spring with WCU faculty, staff and students on a major recycling program. WCU communication students participated in a public relations and educational campaign to promote the recycling program.

For more information about Western’s Service Learning Program or to find out how to become a community partner, contact Glenn Bowen at (828) 227-7184 or via e-mail at