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Service-Learning Advocate Spotlight: Elizabeth Russo

Liz is a graduating senior, and has worked in the Center for Academic Service-Learning and Research (CASLR) as a Service-Learning Advocate (SLA) since the fall of her sophomore year. She hales from Rancho Cucamonga, CA and has one little sister, Katie, who is also an APU undergraduate and has just been hired as a new SLA. Liz has majored in Psychology, and is starting a Masters program in Marriage Family Therapy at Fuller Theological Seminary in the fall.

Liz has thoroughly enjoyed her time as an SLA. She loves the excellent community and support at the CASLR. The weekly staff meeting prayer times have reminded her to slow down and take interest in the lives of those around her. Liz also appreciates the professional development skills this position has increased in her own life. Even though she has always been an organized person, her organizational skills have greatly increased. Liz has also gained experience working in multiple environments and with a variety of different people, including professors, AUSD principals and teachers, and APU students. This position has also given her the ability to learn about other disciplines outside of her major in Psychology.

During Liz’s first year as an SLA, she assisted the graduate assistant with C.H.A.M.P., and has since then coordinated the Teacher Assistant Program (TAP). Each semester, this 10-week program places approximately 100 upper-division liberal studies and teacher education majors in classrooms to serve as teachers' assistants. Students are currently serving in Azusa Unified School District as well as schools in the Covina Valley, Duarte, and Glendora school districts. Liz has coordinated these labs, helping APU students (usually sophomores) to clarify and reaffirm, through practical application, that teaching is definitely meant for them. She has also assisted in courses regarding presidential formation and the ethics of special education.

Liz enjoys most being a part of the “light-bulb” moments she often witnesses in the experiences of APU students who participate in Service-Learning, when they are able to make the connection between theory in the classroom and practice in the community. As a kinesthetic learner herself, she appreciates how Service-Learning is able to give hands-on experience to what is being taught, which allows students to learn in a different way than the normal classroom approach.

Liz’s Top 5 Strengths are Responsibility, Empathy, Restorative, Discipline, and Individualization. Utilizing her strengths, she hopes to leave this office with revamped and sustainable programs that can easily be taken up by her successor. The other SLAs definitely see her as incredibly organized, responsible, and caring. Liz will miss all the CASLR staff and her unique job, which never fails to invoke multiple questions whenever she tells someone that she is a Service-Learning Advocate. What she has learned most about herself and hopes others will be encouraged to do by her example is to never let fear stand in the way of going for their dreams.

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Mary C. Pearce is the Coordinator for Student Professional Development Graduate Assistant at the Center for Academic Service-Learning and Research, working on her Master’s of Science in College Counseling and Student Development