Community-based learning partners appreciated

Graphic art of students
Sketch credit: Sana Iqbal, student in Media & Communication Studies

By N.L. Sweeney
Despite the coronavirus pandemic and the separation it has imposed on people, the University of Washington Bothell and its community partners have maintained the ties that support student learning through joint projects, research and other mutually beneficial collaborations.

For their work in normal times, let alone their dedication in more recent times, the University recognized and celebrated its partners at an annual appreciation event, held June 10 by teleconference with around 130 participants.

“We want to take this moment to acknowledge and give thanks to our partners for their contributions to our faculty, our students and our region,” said Kara Adams, director of community engagement. “We are so glad you could join us today.”

The connections

To help engage and connect participants in the digital gathering, organizers in the Office of Community Based Learning and Research structured the event to feature the voices of partners as well as students, staff and faculty.

After brief introductions, Chancellor Wolf Yeigh spoke. “Thank you for the ways you enrich our student learning and faculty research,” he said. “Our region and our world have experienced many transitions, hardships and pain this year and over the past few weeks. It is through partnerships that we grow in our resilience and innovation together. It’s because of you that we are better able to educate our students and create the next generation of civic leaders and professionals.”

Participants then broke off into smaller groups to discuss a question vitally important during this time: “What is something in your community that has spurred you into action and/or something that has brought you gratitude?”

After the small groups came back together to share out, Adams presented a video acknowledgment of the growing list of organizations that have partnered with UW Bothell for more than five years.

“We also want to thank all the 90 community partners who have attended today,” she said. “In one way or another, you have supported our student learning, faculty research and institutional mission of serving the region.”

Student perspective

Thirteen students served as ambassadors and helped lead the partner recognition event. The students represented all five schools and have each worked with one or more of the partners gathered.

“One of the things we often hear is that our partners want to hear from the students,” said Adams. “We made sure to include time for our student ambassadors to speak about their experiences exploring their interests outside the walls of the University.”

For students like Marisol Bejarano, a Health Studies major, these extracurricular studies can prepare them for what they want to do in the future.

“I currently work with the Latino Educational Training Institute,” said Bejarano. “Volunteering and now working with LETI has made a huge impact on me because I have been able to practice what I have learned over the years in the community, making a positive change during these hard times.”

Growth to come

For many of these students, their experiences working with the different organizations were some of the most impactful of their time at UW Bothell.

“These are the moments that students remember,” said Deanna Kennedy, associate professor in the School of Business and chair of UW Bothell’s Community Engagement Council. “And we want to continue to hold events like this to thank the organizations that make those connections possible.”

Kennedy has been excited to see this event grow over the years from the first luncheon that took place in a classroom to last year’s event that took place in the Activities & Recreation Center. “Next year we might not even be able to fit all of us in the ARC,” she said.

This event, however, was about more than just saying thank you.

“Gratitude is a form of reciprocity,” said Adams. “We hold events like this one to continue to grow and foster those relationships for students to follow.”

Here are the partners recognized for their relationship
with the University for five or more years:

Bothell-Kenmore-Kirkland Reporter
International Examiner
King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office
La Raza del Noroeste
Latino Education Training Institute
Mukilteo School District
Northwest Film Forum
Providence Institute for a Healthier Community
Real Change
United Way of King County Tax Preparation Campaign
Verdant Health Commission

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