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2014 Archives

SMU students spend summer learning the value of public service

2014 Maguire/Irby Fellows

September 2, 2014

DALLAS (SMU) — As SMU students dash around campus during the first week of fall studies, 10 in particular can look back on a summer spent helping people in need, from as close as West Dallas to as far as Israel. Many of them have blogged about their experiences for SMU Adventures.

Arvind VenkataramanDuring his time as a 2014 Maguire Ethics and Irby Family Foundation Public Service Fellow, SMU junior/finance major Arvind Venkataraman worked with SMU Simmons School of Education and Human Development’s The Budd Center and program partner Apollo Tutors.

The students served as Maguire Ethics and Irby Family Foundation Public Service Fellows sponsored by SMU’s Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics & Public Responsibility. Each fellow is responsible for finding agencies to sponsor their projects, which ultimately are selected for their proposals’ ethical and social justice merits.

With financial assistance from the Irby Family Foundation, The Maguire Center awards summer fellowships each year to SMU students who wish to devote time to public service or research in the field of ethics.

“These students are an inspiration to those who teach and support them,” says Maguire Ethics Center Director Rita Kirk. “As their efforts show, they are indeed world changers.”

2014 Maguire Public Service Fellow Erica Renstrom, a senior psychology and sociology major at SMU, volunteered with ManeGait Therapeutic Horsemanship in McKinney, where children and adults with disabilities can experience the healing power of horses and support of a professional, caring community.

“While volunteering in the lesson program, I was able to talk to some of the riders and their families, and was surprised by what a deep sense of connection I felt to their individual stories,” Renstrom says. “Some parents talked to me about how their child’s first words, first steps, and first smiles took place out at ManeGait.”

SMU graduate student and 2014 fellow Nazia Hussain, who volunteered at the Nexus Recovery Center in Dallas, says the women with whom she worked have impacted her in a “spiritual and lasting way.”

The lessons learned from “stories shared in group therapies, the hallways, and in dorms both in public and in private are unmatched by anything I have gathered over the years,” says Hussain, who’s pursuing a master’s degree in medical anthropology. “I’m thankful to these women for allowing me to be a part of their lives and to continue the dialogue between them and those who don’t understand.”

The 2014 Maguire Ethics and Irby Family Foundation Public Service Fellows and their service projects were: 

  Thomas Ira Atkins Thomas Ira Atkins (majoring in international studies, Spanish, religious studies and human rights, 2016): The Columbia, Mo., native volunteered with Hope for the Silent Voices in Panama to help neglected children and orphanages.
  Nazia Hussain Nazia Hussain (master’s candidate, medical anthropology): The Katy, Texas, native volunteered at the Nexus Recovery Center in Dallas to develop a research protocol to understand the barriers and cultural influences pregnant women have in regard to being motivated to seek care and the impact of substance abuse. (Read her blog.)
  Jade Mens Jade Mens (J.D. candidate, law): The Arlington, Texas, native volunteered in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Texas performing legal research and assisting with witness preparation, depositions and trials. (Read her blog.)
  Lisa Raizes Lisa Raizes (majoring in markets and culture, 2015): The Austin native volunteered with the Ethiopian National Project in Israel to help Ethiopian-Israeli youth integrate into Israeli culture.
  Erica Renstrom Erica Renstrom (majoring in psychology and sociology, 2015): The Round Rock, Texas, native worked with ManeGait in McKinney, Texas, to increase the strength and confidence of people with disabilities by teaching them to ride and care for horses. (Read her blog.)
  Alice Heeren Sabato Alice Heeren Sabato (Ph.D. candidate, art history): The Richardson, Texas, native conducted research to explore the architectural and urbanist projects of the Fascist government in Italy, particularly the physical changes to the city of Rome and the ideological discourse permeating it. (Read her blog.)
  Jack Schwimmer Jack Schwimmer (candidate for MBA in management, M.A. in arts management): The Scottsdale, Ariz., native volunteered with the Los Angeles County Arts Commission’s education arm, “Arts for All,” doing research and updating online resources. (Read his blog.)
  Gopika Shah Gopika Shah (majoring in economics and political science, 2015): The Carrollton, Texas, native worked with the Central Texas Coalition Against Human Trafficking to learn about aftercare and restoration policy in Texas. 
  Arvind Venkataraman Arvind Venkataraman (majoring in finance and alternative assets, 2015): Worked with SMU Simmons School of Education and Human Development’s The Budd Center and program partner Apollo Tutors. The Southlake, Texas, native helped set up a process of connecting volunteers with tutoring opportunities in West Dallas schools.
  Yusun Xia  Yusun Xia (master’s candidate, statistical science): The Dallas native worked with the League of Women Voters of Dallas to gather research on the impact of Texas’ new voting regulations requiring valid IDs at the polls. 

For the past 17 years, Public Service Internships have been awarded to nearly 140 SMU students who have served nearly 120 agencies in dozens of countries. For more about the program, visit the web site.