2022 Alden Award Winners Represent the Best of Service-Learning

Each year, Duke Service-Learning recognizes undergraduate students, graduate studentsfaculty, and community partners with the Betsy Alden Outstanding Service-Learning Awards. Betsy Alden was a pioneer in service-learning, beginning her work at Duke during the 1980s. Read more about the legacy of Betsy Alden HERE.

Recipients are chosen because they represent an exceptional commitment to the ideals of service‐learning. Each winner receives $150 to further develop his/her community-building and leadership skills.  

Recipients will be recognized in a Spotlight Awards display at Penn Pavillion on April 12, 2022 from 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm

Undergraduate Student

Pierce Hollier
Service-Learning Assistant
Spanish 205
Advanced Intermediate Spanish
Duke '22
Major in Neuroscience
Minor in Global Health

Pierce Hollier was nominated for the Alden Award by Dr. Eileen Anderson, a faculty member of the Romance Languages department. She first met Pierce when he was a student in Spanish 205, Advanced Intermediate Spanish with Service-Learning. He was later a student in her Spanish 303 class, Latinx Social Movements.  She says of Pierce,

He stood out because of his dedication, participation in all aspects of the class work, and how well he got along with his colleagues.

For four semesters, Pierce has worked closely with the Spanish 205 service-learning courses, as both a student and a Service-Learning Assistant. He worked with Root Causes, an organization that works to combat food insecurity, by confirming delivery details, packing boxes, and delivering food to clients. Pierce also worked closely with the Spanish teacher at the Immaculata Catholic School in Durham. During remote learning, he worked collaboratively to design a website with online Spanish activities for the children.

Pierce is an enthusiastic person with excellent communication skills. He has been working with Duke Service-Learning since the Fall of 2021 and has led discussions and given presentations at workshops. It has been a pleasure to work with him. Pierce has a genuine understanding of the importance of community engagement at Duke and beyond and truly deserves this award.

-Eileen Anderson

Graduate Student

Katie Elkin
Katie Elkin
Service-Learning Assistant
Death & Dying
Dr. Deborah Gold
Duke '22
Master of Divinity

Students in Debby Gold's class on Death and Dying course are typically placed with eight different community partners to work directly with frail and elderly patients and discuss issues of “grief, loss, loneliness, despair, and the other aspects of death”. Building personal connections with patients is an essential part of the course. And doing that in the midst of a pandemic is virtually impossible.

But Katie told me, “We’ll do it one day and one facility and one partner at a time.”
And she did!

Katie took on tremendous leadership roles, learning lots of new information and faces in a very short amount of time. She established relationships with the facilities and convinced them all to remain as partners, and quickly adapted many times due to COVID outbreaks. She was a tremendous support to the students as well. A student commented, “Katie is really a blessing for this class. We’re so glad she has been our SLA!”  

I have had the great good fortune to have had wonderful SLAs through my years of teaching service-learning courses. They have all been excellent, but Katie has taken the SLA position to a new height. I decided to teach this year (2021-2022), even though I have retired, in large part because Katie was available to work with me again.

- Deborah Gold

Faculty Member

Kusum Knapczyk
Dr. Kusum Knapczyk
Lecturer of Hindi Studies
Asian & Middle Eastern Studies
Delhi Young Artist Forum

Dr. Knapczyk initiated a relationship with The Delhi Young Artist Forum, an organization that works for the education, health, and well-being of young children living in Delhi slums, and trains teenagers to become independent and self-employed.

Throughout the course, Duke students supported Delhi Young Artists Forum by creating and teaching English language lessons on topics such as “survival English” and “job interviews”, creating an e-book titled ‘English for Life’ for the community partners and the general public, making posters and videos in Hindi to support the NGO’s campaign to keep children motivated and in school during online learning, and teaching the NGO students various technology skills related to Zoom.

Duke students had opportunities to learn and apply Hindi language skills and cultural competency through real-world, authentic conversations. Throughout the course, they talked with the partners about family, daily routines, projects, food, and literature; made posters for community partners using Hindi; taught community partners English and learned how to explain things in Hindi; created podcasts relating to current critical issues for India; and wrote and performed skits to raise social awareness for a Hindi festival.

Professor Knapczyk has been actively involved in the scholarly work of the Duke Service-Learning community by officially labeling her courses as SLCE, sharing her work with the East Asian Language Pedagogy Research (EALPRC) meeting, participating as a Duke Community-Engaged Scholarship Fellow or 2021-22, and attending community-engaged scholar writing retreats.

Community Partner

8 members of the Root Causes team
Root Causes
Service-Learning Courses
Spanish Language and Culture
Documentary Studies
Duke Campus Farms
Duke Health
Bass Connections

Root Causes was founded by Duke medical students focused on solving problems of food insecurity, access to healthy food, and the “root causes” of chronic health issues. They were nominated specifically for their work with the Fresh Produce Program (FPP). The program works with community partners, including Duke Health, and Duke Campus Farms, to package and deliver locally sourced produce, shelf stable food, and other household items to food insecure health patients. Their work also includes previous collaboration with Duke Bass Connections.

Several of the Duke Service-Learning courses work with Root Causes, including Spanish Language and Culture courses taught by Professor Joan Clifford and Professor Eileen Anderson. Students have many opportunities to practice their Spanish language skills in authentic contexts, and to learn more about the Latinx community and culture in Durham. Students have also been involved by arranging delivery details and packing and distributing food.  Students from Professor Charlie Thompson’s Documentary Studies class on Farmworkers in North Carolina have also worked with Root Causes. As part of the documentary process, students interviewed partners on improving the process, and reached out to Latinx chefs on improving the cultural relevance of the produce provided.  It led to the creation of a collection of recipes.

My unique experiences with FPP have demonstrated to me the reciprocal value of FPP to students and students to FPP, particularly in regard to the program’s commitment to having students and the broader Duke community understand and directly confront language access barriers, food insecurity, and concerns of cultural competency in the Durham community. 

- Anonymous Duke Student Nominator