In civic action program students experience what they learn

Darlene Meza

University of the Pacific student Darlene Meza ’22, who will work with El Concilio as part of the California Civic Action Fellowship program.

University of the Pacific has almost tripled its student commitment to the California Civic Action Fellowship program, which blends field and classroom learning opportunities with high-impact community service.

Seventeen fellows for fall semester were sworn in Aug. 18 at the Donald and Karen De Rosa Center, and another 10 students are committed for a spring cohort, for 27 total fellows. Pacific had 10 student participants in 2020.

The program is a collaboration among AmeriCorps, California Volunteers and eight California universities, including Pacific.

“The Civic Action Fellowship program is possible because eight universities, including Pacific, have leaders who recognize that we must call our young people to serve while keeping them on track to graduate on time, and helping them pay for college,”  said Josh Fryday, California's Chief Service Officer.

Pacific fellows will be assigned to four local agencies:

  • El Concilio for nutrition education program;
  • P.U.E.N.T.E.S. for building sustainable communities;
  • Little Manila Rising for social justice issues;
  • Public Health Advocates for health issues.

“This will be work with specific organizations for large potential impacts,” said Darlene Meza ’22, who will work with El Concilio, one of the region’s leading support organizations for Latinos. “I really would like to work on immigration or behavioral mental health services for the LatinX community.

“I feel like this experience will be helpful for my development,” Meza added. “In every career, you need to know about your community because you’re going to be working with people and you’re impacting societal issues. El Concilio was my first choice.”

The four agencies, which were represented at the swearing-in, are grateful for the expertise and diligent work of the fellows.

“It’s very important for us to work with local college students,” said Hannah Rhea Divino, holistic health director for Little Manila Rising, which advocates for the Filipino community in Stockton.  “We benefit from the commitment they have to the community and in turn the students are able to develop leadership skills. When I was an intern, the hands-on experience is really where I learned the most.”

Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education Edie Sparks directs the program for Pacific. Dari Tran, professor of political science, and instructor Marylou Bagus-Hansen are co-program managers who teach class sessions and help coordinate field work.

“We are thrilled to have resources from the university combined with resources from the state and federal government. It has been a joy to put the program together the past two years,” Tran said. “Experiential learning is one of my passions. We scaffold the learning through classroom and field experiences for the students. And while they are doing their service work, they are thinking about the social or political consequences, in addition to the policy implications.”

Lauren Crook ’21, who was a 2020 fellow, said the program helped guide her into graduate school through Benerd College and into her student teaching at Weston Ranch High School.

“Even as a future teacher, I’m going to use service learning in my lesson plans,” Crook said. “Being immersed is completely different than reading it in a textbook. You are living what you are learning.”

Pacific President Christopher Callahan, who spoke at the swearing-in ceremony, said the program is an important blending of in-depth learning and community service.

Those thoughts were echoed by California Rep. Carlos Villapudua, D-Stockton.

“We face challenges in our communities, many of which we never thought we would fall victim to,” Villapudua said. “It is inspiring to see all of you prepared to go out there and answer the call to help others.”

These are the agency assignments for Pacific’s 17 fall semester fellows:

El Concilio: Erandi Albor COP '22, Erika Castaneda COP '22, Laney Duong SOECS '23, Jasmine Gonzalez COP '22, Darlene Meza COP '22.

Little Manila Rising: Marie Amituanai COP '24, Zosia Ishida COP '22, Danielle Kitaoka COP '22, Sonia Singh PHARM '26, Angel Zhong COP '23.

Public Health Advocates: Joyce Harris COP '25, Manbir Kaur COP '23.

P.U.E.N.T.E.S.: Victoria Dang COP '23, Dylan Hackett-Provenzano COP '22, Arianna Obina COP '25, Lilianna Ordaz COP '21, Abha Patkar COP '21.