• September 15, 2019

UTPB students engage in community service learning - Odessa American: Home

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Paying it Forward UTPB students engage in community service learning

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  • UTPB Writing Program

    Myra Salcedo, senior lecturer in the Department of Literature and Languages at the University of Texas Permian Basin, poses with her professional writing students Monday in their classroom at the Mesa Building.

Posted: Monday, August 12, 2019 3:50 pm

Professional writing courses at the University of Texas Permian Basin are adding community service learning to benefit students and local organizations.

Myra Salcedo, senior lecturer in the Department of Literature and Languages at UTPB, said her writing course takes students beyond the textbook and explores real-world applications.

The main project given to students during the seven-week summer session challenges them to develop marketing materials like brochures and flyers free of charge for a nonprofit agency.

Three groups were formed and created resources for the Choices program, Casa de Amigos in Midland and a proposal for a future recycling drive on campus to be coordinated in conjunction with recycling centers.

UTPB psychology senior Christina Ritter said she and fellow group members wanted passion to be a key ingredient for their project and began the process by searching for a common thread that could unite the team. They discovered that health and wellness was a shared interest.

Ritter became aware of a program that needed help getting the word out about their services through a criminology internship at the Ector County Youth Center this summer. She said the founder, Mauro “Blessed” Matai, of the Choices program was coincidently a member of the Brazilian jiu-jitsu studio she attends in Midland.

Mauro is a law enforcement training coordinator at Odessa College, former corporal in the Odessa Police Department and former coordinator for OPD’s Police Athletic League, which promotes building trust and understanding between police officers and the community.

He said Choices was created two years ago to provide more leadership opportunities, informational workshops and mentorship to Odessa’s youth.

He has years of experience with OPD handling family violence and child neglect cases.

“I thought I had to do something in order to change the community that I live in,” Mauro said. “We have to take pride in our area where we live – if we don’t step up to help these youth, we’re in trouble.”

The program is in the process of becoming a nonprofit and is currently funded by his privately-owned gym, Stay Fit, Stay Rich at 206 W. 10th St.

Cason Flores, a UTPB senior studying communications, said his group created a mock-up brochure to showcase their technical skill in the professional writing course, but also made it as a means to help their client more easily share their message with others.

Ritter said community service learning allowed her to contribute her growing skills in a more useful manner.

“We’re not just writing about hypothetical situations,” she said. “We’re taking our group projects and personal efforts and putting them into the community.”

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