July 19, 2011

Student receives national award for establishing community service day

Student receives national award for establishing community service day
  • Alison Dubchansky ’12
  • Alison Dubchansky at Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia, Chile

Though the Lewis & Clark community has long known of the leadership and service of Alison Dubchansky ’12, a national audience is now beginning to appreciate her work.

Since she arrived at Lewis & Clark, Dubchansky has worked to develop an annual campus-wide community service day. Launched two years ago, the event—which she dubbed “Spring into Action”—has roused nearly 300 Lewis & Clark students, faculty, staff, and alumni to provide service to the greater-Portland community.

This spring, Dubchansky earned a Newman Civic Fellows Award for her efforts. The award honors inspiring college student leaders who have demonstrated an investment in finding solutions for challenges facing communities throughout the country. It is presented by the Campus Compact—a national coalition of more than 1,100 college and university presidents committed to educating students for civic and social responsibility.

“Spring into Action is a point of pride for the Lewis & Clark community,“ said Minda Heyman, director of the Center for Career and Community Engagement. “Alison took advantage of our leadership training during her freshman year and has since created a lasting legacy for the entire campus.”

Images in the slideshow are courtesy of Lewis & Clark, Alison Dubchansky, Andrew Janeba ‘11, and Campus Living Area Director Charlie Ahlquist.

Lewis & Clark is well known for its commitment to community service and was recently named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll by the Corporation for National and Community Service. Lewis & Clark students contributed 316,267 hours of community service and service learning between 2009 and 2010. The hours break down as follows by school:

  • Graduate School of Education and Counseling: 205,841 hours
  • Law School: 69,477 hours
  • College of Arts and Sciences: 40,948 hours

In the following interview, Dubchansky discusses her passion for community service and her strategy for making Spring into Action a success. 

Why is community engagement important?

I’ve always thought community engagement is important because it helps us understand our communities and how we can improve them. I’ve been volunteering with various organizations for many years, and I’ve learned so much from each organization and from each person with whom I’ve worked. Community service can benefit everyone as long as each person identifies his or her passions when volunteering. It is important not to underestimate how much we can learn from the people who help us, and those that we help in return. 

How did you make Spring into Action such a successful event?

The planning committee worked hard to appeal to the desires of the Portland community and the Lewis & Clark community. There were projects both on and off campus, each one with a different focus. The planning committee recruited students, faculty, staff, and alumni through separate concentrated efforts, and by extending personal requests to participate. The concluding reception allowed the participants to discuss their experiences and build upon commonalities. The t-shirts given to all participants helped to emphasize our presence in the community and enhance spirit for both the event and the Lewis & Clark community. Reaching out to various clubs, academic departments, and administrative offices allowed the committee to gain enough support to make a large-scale event that is almost entirely student-led a success.

Why is this event so significant for the Lewis & Clark community and the nonprofits we serve?

Spring into Action fosters a strong sense of community and institutional pride and is an all-inclusive event. One of the best parts is that it allows students and faculty to work together outside of the classroom. The event allows students from all three campuses to join together and provides networking opportunities. It also provides an opportunity for students to volunteer with organizations that they might want to continue volunteering with. Since the event is now annual, we are able to strengthen our relationships with Portland organizations.

What are your plans for the future, and how do you think your Lewis & Clark education is preparing you for those goals?

I am really not too sure yet, but I love being at a small college. I would definitely consider working in a community service office, or some other job where I could help students identify their passions and plan programs for other students or in their community. I would also consider a job working with RAs since I love working to build community at a small school. I’ve also thought about going to graduate school so that I can be a teacher, either in an elementary school or teaching English as a second language.

Learn about the other ways 3CE is helping students prepare for successful lives after college: