2020 Betsy Alden Outstanding Service-Learning Award Winners

2020 Betsy Alden Outstanding Service-Learning Award Winners

The Betsy Alden Outstanding Service-Learning Awards recognize annually one community partner, one faculty member, and one graduating senior for their outstanding commitment to the ideals of service-learning.

We are pleased to recognize the following award recipients for their excellent work:

STUDENT RECIPIENT: Axel Herrera Ramos (Duke ‘20)

Axel Herrera Ramos, a double major in Economics and Sociology, was born in Honduras and immigrated to the United States at the age of seven with his family. He currently calls Durham, North Carolina home and has developed a commitment to his local community through activism, mentorship, and civic involvement. As both a DACA recipient and first generation college student, he is passionate about issues surrounding immigration and access to higher education. Citation: The Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, CHCI

“Axel is special because he is not afraid to speak up for his community’s rights, and when he does, people listen,” wrote Daisy Almonte (Duke ‘20). Citation: The Chronicle.

From nominator Kimmie Garner, Assistant Director of Duke Service-Learning:

“Axel cares deeply about community-engaged work and his service-learning peers. His contributions to the vitality and direction of our Service-Learning Assistant (SLA) program for four consecutive academic semesters demonstrate the power of student leadership. His continual efforts to strengthen faculty and student relationships, both within and beyond the classroom, exemplify Betsy Alden’s vision of building more humane relationships through tangible action.”

From Axel Herrera Ramos, Duke '20:

“I am thankful that this award exists not only because it recognizes individuals, but also because it allows others to appreciate that service work is not marginal.”


Yan Liu, Ph.D., is a Lecturer of Chinese in the Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies and an affiliate faculty member in the Asian/Pacific Studies Institute. Her primary research interests include second language (L2) acquisition, L2 reading, L2 assessment, intercultural competence, Chinese language pedagogy, and Chinese curriculum development. 

Yan Liu was a 2015-2016 Service-Learning Faculty Fellow and has been coordinating and co-organizing the Chinese program’s service-learning/community-based activities with her colleagues throughout her time at Duke. She has connected her students with a variety of local communities such as, Burton Elementary School; Durham Academy; Duke China Care, a student organization on Duke campus that helps adopted children from China find their cultural roots; Chinese international students and visitors at Duke; and local Chinese professional translators and interpreters. These community-based activities have enabled her students to know different communities around them and encouraged them to serve the communities with what they have learned from her Chinese courses. Learn more about Yan Liu here.




Syretta Hill has served as StepUp Durham's Executor Director since September of 2015. Prior to serving at StepUp, she worked for seven years as a community organizer and neighborhood relations director for Habitat for Humanity of Wake County. She also served as a workforce development trainer for a local school district and the director of operations at a small publishing company while living in Philadelphia. The daughter of parents who worked in the prison system, Syretta became passionate about StepUp Durham's mission to walk alongside people facing barriers to employment (including a criminal background), as well as the organization's emphasis on community listening and racial equity. Syretta holds a M.A. in Education from Temple University and a B.A. in Communication from the University of South Florida. She is a mother of two and has been married for 17 years. Citation: StepUp Durham website.

You can also read this article with additional photos and videos on the Duke Service-Learning website.