Naif Alkhathran, Jasmine McKee, and Paola Montenegro received the 2017 Community Impact Award recently. Dr. Scott Smith, vice president for student affairs, presented a plaque to each winner in recognition of exemplary community engagement primarily through direct service and advocacy.
As a Barry Service Corps Fellow, Alkhathran worked closely with Church World Service, a Barry community partner, to support refugee families from Colombia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq. He even raised money to cover hotel stays for recently arrived Syrian families.
Alkhathran also contributed to a Deliberative Dialogue forum on political discourse in the 2016 election season and helped to organize the Campus Democracy Project’s Debate Watch events. He spent last summer working on Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and shared his experience on social media with followers in the United States and in his native Saudi Arabia. Additionally, he founded Barry’s Saudi Student Club and engaged the club’s 50 members in service projects.
Alkhathran is now working on a project to build solidarity with members of the Jewish community, aimed at fostering a peaceful and inclusive global community.
As a Barry Service Corps member assigned to the Campus Democracy Project, McKee exceeded her voter registration targets. She made educating new voters fun – offering interesting information about the candidates at Campus Debate Watch Parties and using her imitation voting booth to familiarize students with the voting process. On Election Day, she shuttled many of her peers from campus to the polls.
Furthermore, to reach the voters of the future, McKee helped to form a Speech and Debate Club, which met each week to teach children at the Lillie C. Evans Elementary School the importance of civic engagement.
Montenegro contributed to the development of campus-community partnerships with several local organizations. This year, she helped to launch Barry FairShare, a community-supported agriculture project that benefits Liberty City, one of Miami’s economically disadvantaged neighborhoods.
As a student leader, Montenegro learned community-organizing strategies and then played a key role in promoting farmworkers’ rights. Significantly, she collaborated with other student leaders to recruit more than 300 students and coordinated their participation in several peaceful demonstrations to support the efforts of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers.
As an Executive Board member of Barry’s Alternative Breaks student organization, she facilitated service trips to communities in Florida, Louisiana, and Texas, as well as to Port-de-Paix, Haiti. In 2016, she was among a select group of student leaders who lobbied lawmakers on Capitol Hill to support programs aimed at ending extreme poverty and preventable diseases, particularly in Africa.
The Center for Community Service Initiatives (CCSI) hosted Barry’s fourth annual Community Engagement Awards, described as “a celebration of community-engaged learning, teaching, service, and scholarship.”