Monthly archives: February 2013

VCU Coach Shaka Smart wins East Region of the ESPN/Infiniti Coaches Charity Challenge

After soundly defeating such big time basketball names as Bob Huggins of West Virginia, Jim Boeheim of Syracuse, Mike Krzyzewski of Duke and the coaches of conference rivals Temple, Xavier and St. Joseph’s – VCU Head Basketball Coach Shaka Smart has reached the finals of the 3rd Annual ESPN/Infiniti Coaches Charity Challenge. The remaining “final four” coaches include Frank Haith of Missouri, Johnny Dawkins of Stanford and last-year’s winner Thad Matta of Ohio State. The coach that receives the most votes in the two-week final round of the competition will receive $100,000 for his selected charity.

Coach Smart has selected FRIENDS Association for Children, a local non-profit agency,
which has been serving children and families in the Richmond community for over 140 years.

FRIENDS Executive Director, J. David Young commented that “Coach Smart and his wife, Maya, wanted to align their support with a local organization with deep roots in the Richmond community. We are honored that they chose FRIENDS. A win for Coach Smart in this competition is not only a win for FRIENDS and for VCU, it is also a win for the entire Richmond and Central Virginia area. We certainly appreciate the support we’ve seen so far and encourage everyone to continue to show their RVA pride and VOTE SMART!…every day.”

FRIENDS has two Richmond locations – the John C. Purnell, Jr. Child Development Center in Jackson Ward and the Robert L. Taylor Childcare Center in Church Hill. FRIENDS serves approximately 1,000 children annually, from low-to-moderate income working families; and offers a broad array of services to help them gain critical literacy and developmental skills needed to succeed in school and in life. These services also help children achieve a greater understanding and appreciation of their community and the world around them.

To cast a vote for Coach Smart and FRIENDS, visit, select the
East Region and Shaka Smart. Votes can be made daily through March 11 at noon EST.

VCU International Community Volunteers in Henrico County

Thirty-four members of VCU’s  international community participated in the food packaging event hosted by international relief organization “Stop Hunger Now” last month at the First Presbyterian Church in Richmond. The group joined with nearly 600 citizens of Henrico County to prepare 142,000 meals that will be distributed to schools and orphanages throughout Haiti.

This is the second year that the VCU Global Education Office has arranged for members of VCU’s international community to participate in this event.

Khaled AbouZeid, a post-doctoral researcher in the VCU College of Humanities and Sciences Department of Chemistry, has participated both years.

“I know this work makes a difference,” he said. “I love participating in this event because it gives me a chance to practice my humanity and to help.”

Read the full article at

For more information on the VCU Global Education Office, visit

High School Students Explore Allied Health at MCV Campus

On Friday, February 22, 97 high school students from VCU Health Sciences Academy’s health career exploration course traveled to the MCV campus to learn about careers in occupational therapy, physical therapy and clinical lab sciences.

During these activities students saw and experienced different ways professionals in allied health fields treat patients. The campus visit occurred during the allied health unit as part of a semester-long, health careers exploration course focused on the different professional school training programs available on the MCV campus.

The VCU Health Sciences Academy helps high school students make informed choices about the health professions they wish to pursue while providing resources to pursue their chosen careers.

For more information, visit

Mass Comm, ASPiRE Students Awarded Democracy Cup

Students in the School of Mass Communications and VCU ASPiRE program won the Democracy Cup competition held by the Virginia Campus Election Engagement Project (CEEP). The award recognizes efforts to increase electoral engagement on college campuses.

CEEP honored the “VCU votes” campaign run by mass communications honors students in the “Social Media and Presidential Race” course as the “Best Communication Campaign” in Virginia. VCU’s award submission also included the election efforts of the ASPiRE students who worked to get out the vote in Mosby Court, a public housing development with more than 500 voting-age residents, a population that traditionally has had low voter turnout. The students focused on registering Mosby residents to vote and coordinating free transportation for residents to the polls on Election Day.

CEEP worked with more than 750 colleges and universities nationwide in the 2012 election. VCU was one of four winners in Virginia; the other schools were Mary Baldwin College, George Mason University and Virginia Wesleyan College. The award was presented during the Active Citizens Conference in Williamsburg on February 16.

For more information on CEEP, visit

For more information on VCU ASPiRE, visit

Read the School of Mass Communications’ article on the award.

Read the College of Humanities & Sciences’ article on the award.

Service-Learning Students Make Impact in South Africa

Dingani Mthethwa, an adjunct faculty member in the School of World Studies, has been taking college students from various universities to his homeland of South Africa for five years. After working with VCU’s Service-Learning program, Mthethwa partnered with  School of Social Work instructor and service-learning faculty fellow Randi Buerlein to transform his traditional study abroad experience into a service-learning course. With financial assistance from the Department of African American Studies, the course was offered during winter break 2012.

“Contemporary Social Challenges in Rural Communities in South Africa” allowed students to work within a South African community, addressing community needs. Working closely with Mthethwa’s alma mater, the University of KwaZulu-Natal, and the Sinomlando Centre for Oral History and Memory Work in Africa, students in the course partnered with the Bhekabantu School for children orphaned by the AIDS epidemic. They completed service before, during and after their trip to South Africa, hosting a clothing drive prior to leaving that allowed them to bring several bags of clothes to the school.

While at the school, the students hosted a series of activities that provided the children with social and academic enrichment ranging from fingernail painting to sports activities.

The students now plan to work with Mthethwa to start a nonprofit organization, The Bhekabantu Children’s Charity, with the aim of providing a sustainable source of funding and resources for the school.

For more information, contact Mthethwa at

VCU Mentors Connect with High School Students Interested in Health Careers

On February 5, undergraduate mentors from the VCU Health Sciences Academy (HSA) completed challenge/discovery team building activities with their mentees from Richmond Community and John Marshall High Schools.

The HSA helps high school students make informed choices about the health professions they wish to pursue.

Throughout the spring 2013 semester, VCU mentors will help the high school juniors develop college success skills through the HSA career exploration program.

For more information on the HSA, visit

First-Year Students Participate in Oral History Project

First-year Service-Learning students in Mary Lamb Shelden’s Focused Inquiry course are participating in an oral history project, connecting their studies with service to the community.

Holley School Histories is an oral history project that documents the stories of alumni and neighbors of the Holley Graded School, a historically black school established in 1868-69 to serve the freed people of Lottsburg, Va.

Descendants of the emancipated slaves who first established the school, the trustees and alumni whose histories are presented through the project represent the diverse gifts and talents nurtured by the school through the generations.

For more information about the oral history project, visit

For more information about Focused Inquiry, visit

Focused Inquiry Students Connect Careers to Fan Free Clinic Service

In November, students in Focused Inquiry I raised more than $210 for the Fan Free Clinic Food Pantry by collecting money on campus over the course of several weekends. The students also collected boxes of non-perishable food and more than 300 paper grocery bags. The food pantry estimates that each bag saves the organization approximately 40 cents that can be used toward food for those in need.

Students in the FI course are pre-health and have explored the connections between health and nutrition for one of their unit writing assignments. The assignment helped to connect the service they performed with skills emphasized in the course, as well as their future careers.

For more information about Focused Inquiry, visit

Mosby Leadership Program Graduation

On Jan. 25, 14 Mosby community members graduated from the Mosby Leadership Program, which is designed to sustain the building of community capacity, empower change and to maximize the effective participation of Mosby residents as volunteers with community-based organizations. For five months, members of the inaugural class attended workshops focused on leadership skill development, including conflict resolution, effective communication and computer skills training.

“In order to make positive changes in the Mosby community, it is necessary to recruit residents to get involved as leaders,” said Aquanetta Scott, vice president of the Mosby Tenant Association.

The Mosby Leadership Program is a partnership with Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority, VCU ASPiRE living-learning program and the VCU Center on Health Disparities. Instructors for the program, including VCU faculty, police officers, members of the clergy and nonprofit program managers, serve as subject matter experts. Students in the VCU ASPiRE living-learning program serve as program volunteers and mentors to the participants. The program is funded through a grant from the Division of Community Engagement.

Mosby is a public housing development less than a mile from VCU’s medical campus. More than 1,200 people live in Mosby, with an average annual income of $10,609. Ninety-three percent of households are headed by single mothers.

Participants in the program must be residents of the Mosby community, demonstrate a desire to learn leadership skills and successfully advance through a competitive application and interview process. The next Mosby Leadership class is scheduled to start February 8.

For more information, contact Nannette Bailey, VCU ASPiRE community partnerships coordinator, at (804) 827-2300 or e-mail

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Dec 8: CCE Grants Info Session

With support from the Office of the Provost and the Vice President for Health Sciences, the Council for Community Engagement (CCE) provides one-year Community Engagement Grants and one-year Community-Engaged Research …

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Dec 10: CEnR Interest Group

**NOTICE: The CEnR Interest Group session previously scheduled for December 15 has been rescheduled. Please note the date and location change below.** On December 10, from 9 – 10 a.m., …

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Dec 15: Deadline to Apply for Service-Learning Institute

The Service-Learning Institute provides faculty members, community partners, graduate students and higher education administrators the opportunity to build a basic understanding of service-learning pedagogy, reflect on the integration of service-learning …

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