The University of the Pacific is among the colleges participating in the new statewide service learning program

By Rich Ibarra

Three thousand California college students will each volunteer 450 hours at nonprofit organizations in their communities this coming school year.

At the University of the Pacific at Stockton, nearly 100 students will be enrolled in the new program, which starts this fall. The commitment is part of a college-university collaboration with California Volunteers, a program run by the Office of Gov. Gavin Newsom, AmeriCorps and CaliforniaForAll College Corps.

The UOP student grantees, who were sworn in late last week, will participate in a program that combines field experience with classroom learning.

At the induction ceremony, the group made this promise: “I’m an AmeriCorps member and I will get things done.”

The participating UOP students range from college freshmen to seniors and come from five states. Lillia Gracia, one of the students, said she hopes to achieve several things by being part of this program.

“Personal growth, learning to work with other people, extra fulfillment,” she said.

There’s also a built-in financial reward: $10,000 for educational spending. Another student, Hernoor Sandhu, said that this will be of great help in her classes.

“I think this is a unique experience of staying debt-free,” she said, “while taking classes and being part of a community.”

Marylou Bagus-Hansen is a Service Learning Instructor at UOP. She said the student volunteers would focus on four project areas while working with 17 local nonprofit organizations.

“Food insecurity, K-12 education through tutoring and mentoring, climate protection and then community health,” she said.

Almost four dozen universities participate in the program. These include community colleges, California State University, the University of California campus, and four private colleges including UOP. Participating institutions in the Sacramento area include Sacramento City College, Sacramento and Stanislaus State University, and UC Davis.

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