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Thinking Outside the Classroom: Students look forward to “real world” experience in civic engagement program

Posted: Jan. 26, 2015

Nursing students Elaine Juch and Janessa Rocco

Nursing students Elaine Juch and Janessa Rocco were recently selected as fellows of the Longhorn Center for Civic Engagement–City Hall (LCCE-City Hall) and will join 13 other UT Austin students in assisting Austin neighborhoods through community service projects.

Students selected as fellows of the program have the opportunity to engage in discussions with residents and neighborhood associations in communities across the city and organize alongside residents to explore and define community priorities for revitalization. Advised by community and city leaders, LCCE-City Hall fellows will develop community-building, facilitation and team-building skills.

“I am excited about the leadership building opportunities this program presents. I hope to become a nurse leader one day, and this will help me develop those skills,” said Elaine, a junior from Spring, Texas. “I also think nurses can make a difference in a community by educating people about diseases such as diabetes. I would like to find a way to help people use this information to improve their health and maybe even lower their risk of getting diabetes or other chronic diseases.”

Janessa, a junior from Albuquerque, New Mexico, agrees. “I look forward to receiving a more ‘real world’ experience than you normally get from a textbook. I think we’ll have the chance to make a significant impact and I hope that when other nursing students see that, they will want to get involved in community outreach, too.”

The City Hall Fellows program is a partnership between the Longhorn Council for Civic Engagement (LCCE) at The University of Texas at Austin and the Office of the Mayor of the City of Austin and designed to involve undergraduate students across all disciplines in community engagement through service learning, introduce students to city leadership and encourage continued civic engagement.

Last year nursing students Clay Clark (BSN ’14) and Brittany Castañeda (BSN ’14) were selected as fellows. As part of their project, they helped launch a grant-writing initiative to improve neighborhoods in east Austin.

“I’m so proud that once again nursing students were selected to be part of this service venture and am confident that Janessa and Elaine will bring a thoughtful, proactive and caring approach to their work in the Austin community,” said Alexa Stuifbergen, dean of the UT Austin School of Nursing. “Their participation in this program is just one more example of nursing education going beyond the classroom.”

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