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Tag: community service

My Take On TU: Engineers Without Borders

In the fall of 2017, a group of students from The University of Tulsa’s Engineers Without Borders-USA chapter traveled to the country of Bolivia to conduct site assessments for an upcoming service project. Working with Engineers in Action, a nongovernmental organization formed in Tulsa, five undergraduate students, TU EWB-USA chapter co-adviser Laura Ford, a professional mentor, an Engineers in Action engineer, a translator and a cook embarked on a 10-day adventure that led them to the East Andes mountains of Bolivia, through large cities and small villages such as El Alto, La Paz and Machacamarca.

My Take On TU: Engineers Without Borders

In the fall of 2017, a group of students from The University of Tulsa’s Engineers Without Borders-USA chapter traveled to the country of Bolivia to conduct site assessments for an upcoming service project. Working with Engineers in Action, a nongovernmental organization formed in Tulsa, five undergraduate students, TU EWB-USA chapter co-adviser Laura Ford, a professional mentor, an Engineers in Action engineer, a translator and a cook embarked on a 10-day adventure that led them to the East Andes mountains of Bolivia, through large cities and small villages such as El Alto, La Paz and Machacamarca.

My Take On TU: Students Against Food Inequality

Sophomore international business and language major Austin Boyington and junior marketing major Darcy Elmore, are part of TU’s Global Scholars program, a community of students engaged in global issues. Their cohort explored food insecurity in the program’s Global Challenges class, which focuses on a different theme each semester. Watch the video below to learn about how Austin and Darcy worked on a project to provide healthy options to people in the Tulsa area who have live with food insecurity each day.

TU Helping To Improve Mental Illness

This article was written for the Spring 2016 issue of The Univeristy of Tulsa Alumni Magazine. For more alumni stories, visit TUAlumni.com.

Based on research of community needs, TU’s True Blue Neighbors Behavioral Health Clinic was formed to provide an experiential  learning environment for psychology graduate students while providing free services to the Kendall-Whittier neighborhood and a handful of agencies that require a mental health resource.

The facility, which opened near campus in 2015, offers therapy for individuals and families as well as testing for children referred by Tulsa Public Schools to determine what the underlying cause may be for academic issues.

However, the clinic was unable to serve some students from the nearby Kendall-Whittier Elementary School because many of the children are Hispanic and are just learning English or have parents who only speak Spanish.
BODY-jennifer-coronado-107That’s where Jennifer Coronado (BA ’15) comes into the picture. Coronado grew up in the neighborhood and attended Kendall-Whittier. Her native language is Spanish, and her undergraduate degree is in psychology.

“I love this community. I’m glad I can help open doors at the clinic to Spanish-speaking clients,” she said. “I chose psychology as a profession because I wanted to find ways to help people live better lives. Sometimes, someone’s psychological state affects their physical state.”

The Behavioral Health Clinic offers therapy based on the clients’ needs. Coronado said the graduate students, who are supervised by TU professors, employ empirically supported treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy that teaches clients to deal effectively with stressors, modify their thoughts and focus on their strengths. They also administer IQ tests to children and show them ways to cope with learning disabilities or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

“There’s been a high level of interest already. So far, we’ve been able to see everyone with only a short waiting list, mostly for Spanish-speaking clients. Now, we’ll be able to address their needs efficiently,” Coronado said.

She added that the teachers at Sequoyah Elementary and Kendall-Whittier Elementary, just a few blocks from the clinic, appreciate the university’s presence in the neighborhood. “TU volunteers and facilities mean increased resources for the school,” Coronado said.

And simply having a world-class college next door has opened the minds of the neighborhood children. “The children see the university as something attainable,” she said. “TU serves as a sort of role model, an example of how an organization can positively impact an entire community.”

STEM Outreach Through TU Students

Natalie 2Today’s blog post comes to us from Natalie Santa-Pinter, a junior Biochemistry major on a Pre-Med track from Choctaw, Okla.

Early in my college career, I began volunteering as a Reading Partner at Kendall-Whittier Elementary, a predominantly Hispanic school very near TU. I would walk or ride my bike to a small prefab each week and conduct a lesson with a child struggling in phonetics, reading or writing. This became a very humbling and rewarding experience, which propelled me into other forms of community service.

I recently found out that the number of 5th graders at Kendall-Whittier scoring “satisfactory” or “above” on the Science OCCT (Oklahoma Core Curriculum Test) dropped from 84% to 24% from the years 2011 to 2015. With all the advancements in technology, education, and access to both, I wondered how this could be possible.

I always knew there are many mental and societal boundaries placed around minorities in pursuing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)-related studies and in attaining professional careers in these categories. However, the statistic still shocked me. It made me wonder, “How can I introduce individuals to opportunities and passions related to STEM that they may not normally have the chance to experience?”

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STEM2 officers and high school representative.

It was not long before I and a former student, Caleb Lareau, founded a TU student organization called STEM2 (Student Team Engaging Minorities in STEM). The vision of STEM2 was simple: to promote not just an interest, but an advancement, of young women and minorities in each of the growing STEM fields. How did we do this? We reached out to current students performing STEM outreach and began snowballing ideas. Pretty soon, we decided on a list of activities we could do, such as visit schools to talk about STEM, perform science demos for kids and hold on-campus events to stimulate the minds and growth of all generations.

Our largest event was last December on TU’s campus. The goal for the first-ever TU STEM Fair was to target high school students from underserved Tulsa neighborhoods and provide them and their families a day full of demonstrations, speakers, and knowledge from local organizations and students. The organization of the fair required quite a bit of planning. STEM

The organization of the fair required quite a bit of planning. STEM2 members worked hard garnering free T-shirts, admission waivers and donations for the event; ordering food, rooms, and supplies for the sessions; advertising to local high schools; and recruiting volunteers and organizations to interact with the attendees. I reached out to an inspiring mechanical engineer from the Eglin Air Force Base in Florida whom I had met at a conference last fall, and she graciously agreed to be our keynote speaker for the event.

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STEM2 members with Virginia Swindell, the keynote speaker for the day.

We hosted the fair in Keplinger Hall, and over 100 high school students, family members, and TU students and faculty showed! TU’s own Professor McCoy performed a variety of exciting physics demonstrations. Local and TU student organizations such as Engineers Without Borders, OU School of Community Medicine, National Society of Black Engineers, and TU NASA (just to name a few) occupied booths downstairs and talked about the vast array of opportunities in STEM. We provided people with tours of the University, free lunch, and a student and admission panel. Our keynote speaker, Mrs. Virginia Swindel, gave a motivational and engaging talk about the prevalence of STEM in our world and how anyone could attain a career in this field.

The entire event was a success, and afterwards, many attendees expressed how excited they were to now pursue studies in STEM. A few hoped we would host the fair every year! One comment was, “The event was excellent and I hope to attend it next year if it is held again. It exceeded my expectations in every way.”

Contributing to the expansion of the next generation of STEM professionals is a truly rewarding experience. Nothing compares to the satisfaction felt when providing someone an opportunity they previously thought was impossible, or nonexistent. As members strive to make a difference in as many lives as possible through STEM2, they learn about the value of education, action, and community.

A Spirit Of Service At TU

10733948_10152891713646095_333273391774010913_oToday’s post was written by Jordan Hoyt, a senior Mechanical Engineering major from Tulsa, Okla.

Due to my brothers and sisters in Alpha Phi Omega (Service Fraternity), I’ve highly associated volunteering with one of the most fun experiences you can do in college. Some of my best memories in college have been playing with puppies while volunteering at the ASPCA and scaring kids (politely of course) at the annual HallowZOOeen festival. But it’s also one of the most important things you can do in college.

4th July 1975: American tennis player Arthur Ashe (1943 - 1993) holding aloft the trophy after beating compatriot Jimmy Connors in the men's singles finals at the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships. (Photo by David Ashdown/Keystone/Getty Images)

A great tennis player, Arthur Ashe, once said, “From what we get, we can make a living; what we give, however, makes a life.” This has been my favorite quote for a while now, but it wasn’t until about a year ago while volunteering for a psychology assignment that I truly felt what it meant.

After learning that a local alternative high school known didn’t have a science teacher, I knew it was my opportunity to make a difference. I gathered up supplies to replicate demos I had seen in my Mechanical Engineering classes and headed out. Expecting to inspire rooms full of students and become the next Bill Nye The Science Guy (BILL, BILL, BILL, BILL!), I was somewhat disappointed to see only two students in the room I was assigned to. But I still did the demos cheerfully and got some interaction. After my hour of volunteering, I left the room feeling a bit disappointed that I wasn’t able to inspire people or make a difference. But before I left the school, a teacher ran to catch me and said this: “I’m not sure if you knew, but one of the students you were talking to just lost his brother to a shooting three weeks ago. He hasn’t participated in class or hardly even talked to us until you came into class today. Thank you.”

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I can’t promise that all of your volunteer experiences will be like the one I just described. But I can promise that you meant the world to someone just for showing up. From what you learn in your classes here at TU, you can make a heck of a living. But what TU also encourages you to do is to give back and make a difference.