Utah State University

Kristin Fitzgerald & RJ Risueno


“The time we have spent volunteering at Centro de la Familia has been just as beneficial in our lives as we hope it has been for children attending. These kids have bright young minds with so much to offer; all that is needed is a little more educational guidance and some books to help them on their path of knowledge.”

Kristin and RJ brought a passion and anyone who witnessed them over the past 6 months could see. They both find satisfaction in seeing the lasting difference they are able to create in their own communities with dedication and hard work. Kristin Fitzgerald and RJ Risueno are perfect examples of the amazing work that can be completed when two dedicated students put their mind, skills, and energy into accomplishing a community defined goal. Kristin and RJ both applied and became Service-Learning Scholars in Fall 2016. Upon learning about the capstone requirement, both showed interest in working with the community agency Centro de la Familia. After learning about a need Centro de la Familia had submitted to the Community Bridge Initiative, the two decided to collaborate to build a bilingual library for the students and families Centro de la Familia serves.

While many Service-Learning Scholars put off their capstones until closer to graduation, Kristin and RJ dove right in, and immediately began working with the center to outline goals, their roles, and how to ensure this project could continue beyond their time at USU. RJ took the lead on fundraising, reaching out to his classmates, faculty, church leaders, and local community. Kristin worked hard to obtain enough books for the library, and added her artistic touches on the creative design of the physical space.Collectively they have been able to raise over $1000 to fund material purchases, and spend dozens of hours building, cataloging, and preparing the library for roll out.

Dr. Matthew Sanders

“Education helps students see the world differently and make a difference in the world. The best way for my students to develop these abilities is to be engaged in the community at the same time they are learning in the classroom. And the best way for me to teach this is to live it myself.”

Matt is an Associate Professor of Communication Studies in the Department of Languages, Philosophy, and Communication Studies and Associated Dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences whose commitment to engagement is well-recognized within his department, university, local community, field of Communication Studies, and throughout the academy at-large. Matt’s reputation for teaching excellence has become undeniable at Utah State University. He has delivered dozens of presentations to the university community (students, faculty, and staff) but also local community groups on the importance of interpersonal communication in leadership and organizational success. He has secured funding from the Bennion Endowment for the past four years to train teachers in local school districts on civil discourse, collaboration, and conflict management (approximately 400 teachers).

In his role as Associate Dean, Matt developed a funding initiative to give students the opportunity to work with faculty one-on-one so that they could, among other outcomes, engage in public outreach such as delivering community workshops and participating in public campaigns. As it happens, Matt is not only working tireless to engage with the local community but also is creating other opportunities for students and faculty to become engaged citizens. Considered one of the foremost experts on communication in non-profit organizations, Matt articulates that his research, “explores how the distinct characteristics of nonprofit organizations are maintained in the face of increasing marketization of the nonprofit sector.” In doing so, Matt contributes to understanding the role of communication in creating and maintaining organizational environments that enable nonprofits organizations to successfully manage the tension between fulfilling their social missions and meeting the financial imperatives of market economy.

Amber Summers-Graham


“Civic engagement is at the heart of an honors education at Utah State University. One of the most rewarding aspects of my job as Honors Program advisor and coordinator is working with the Honors Student Council and all of our students to build an undergraduate experience focused on meaningful community engagement.”

Amber Summers-Graham is the advisor for the Honors Student Council, which focuses on service projects and community engagement. In addition, Amber is coordinates meals for Loaves and Fishes, a community meal that brings our diverse community together around a common table to provide a meal twice a month that nourishes body and spirit through relationship, service, and fellowship. Amber spends approximately 10 hours per month planning menus, shopping for food and organizing volunteers to help in the kitchen. She uses her own community engagement as a model and bridge for students by helping honors students organize food drives with Cache Community Food Pantry, after-school backpack programs and an annual drive for Sub-for-Santa.
Amber’s favorite part of her job is working with the Honors Student Council to build an undergraduate experience focused on meaningful community engagement.

Spencer Cox


Cox obtained his bachelor’s degree in political science from USU and was named Student of the Year graduating with a 4.0 grade point average. He began his political career as a city councilor for Fairview, Utah, and later served as its mayor. He was elected as a Sanpete County commissioner in 2008, and to the Utah House of Representatives in 2012. In October 2013, Governor Gary Herbert selected Cox to replace Greg Bell as lieutenant governor. As lieutenant governor, Cox serves on the Board of the Utah Commission on Service and Volunteerism. During his time in this role, the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) has ranked Utah as the #1 volunteering state in the nation for the 12th year running.
He has been a supporter of national service throughout Utah and has addressed AmeriCorps members at the annual Day on the Hill. This event has showcased national service throughout the state and the Utah Legislature recognizes AmeriCorps members for their service. Cox has been a strong advocate of the nonprofit community and has spoken during the kickoff event for Love Utah Give Utah at the Capitol.

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Cache Humane Society

Stacey has collaborated with students on one-time projects as well as ongoing volunteer opportunities. In the past year, USU students have organized supply drives that have provided thousands of dollars worth of necessary shelter supplies, produced viral videos featuring shelter animals, and braved winter conditions to shovel snow and ice from outdoor kennels. The Cache Humane Society was one of the first official USU Community Bridge Initiative (CBI) partners. As a CBI partner, they have submitted multiple high priority projects to be matched with Service-Learning classes or student capstone projects. Currently, the Cache Humane Society is working with a group of students from the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business to raise funds to outfit every dog kennel with a durable and comfortable dog bed.

Above all this, Cache Humane Society’s main service is,  and will always be, simple, we are an animal shelter.We welcome unwanted animals through our doors, and give them a safe, warm, loving place to stay, until we can find them a new forever home. Many animals would not survive without the service Cache Humane Society gives to the local community. To continue this service, and everything else we do,  we need donations and strong community support from people just like you.