Two MCJ professors honored with ‘Spirit of Service’ award

Jes Therkelsen and Candace Egan

Two professors in the Department of Media, Communications and Journalism recently were honored during Fresno State’s Service Recognition Reception, hosted by University President Joseph I. Castro.

Candace Egan and Jes Therkelsen received the Outstanding Faculty award during the annual event, held May 3 in the Satellite Student Union. The awards recognize the exemplary commitment to community engagement exhibited at Fresno State. For the past 10 years, the campus community has provided in excess of 1 million hours of service to the Central Valley each year.

Egan and Therkelsen redesigned MCJ 131S Online Media Design course into a service-learning course. In the spring of 2015, both professors team taught the course and students documented water stories from throughout the Central Valley linked to the drought. The website, California Drought Watch, can be found here.

This year students in Egan’s class created a website providing information about food issues and resources. The site, called “Setting the Table,” launched last week with a public launch party.

Egan also teaches MCJ 118S, which matches up student teams with local nonprofits. The students learn how to work with clients and create professional videos that help the organization get their message out to the community. In April, Cultiva La Salude honored several students from that class with the Volunteer Award for promotional videos they created for the organization, dedicated to creating health equity in the San Joaquin Valley by fostering changes in communities that support healthy eating and active living.

Therkelsen has also coordinated three international service-learning trips as a faculty leader, twice to Fiji and once to Tanzania. All three trips followed a similar model, where students collaborated with community volunteers in partnership with the local community who will have full ownership of an agreed-upon project to work on together (from conception, planning, production and completion) to ensure its sustainability.

Students provided labor and funding, and work alongside skilled local craftsmen. In Fiji, students worked on building a community kitchen, while in Tanzania, students helped build a community garden. Students experience full community integration, local accommodation, local food and full cultural sharing experience including an involvement in community associations.

“These trips embody Fresno State’s contribution and commitment to the global community by improving working relationships and cross-cultural understanding,” Therkelsen said. “In addition, I’ve brought three to five of my MCJ students on each of these trips to learn what it is like to produce documentary projects with international communities. Last year we had our film screen on PBS.”

This was the first time for both Egan and Therkelsen receiving this honor.

At the Spirit of Service awards, President Castro awarded a certificate to more than 130 students for completing more than 100 hours of service this year. Also recognized were members of the Humanics program, Community Service Scholarship program, the Scholars Service Grant program and the Richter Center Student Leaders program.

Several other individuals and organizations also received awards for representing a special commitment to Fresno State’s community engagement and service-learning efforts. Those winners are:

  • Don Romsa Community Partner Award: Sierra Foothill Conservancy
  • Spirit of Service Award: Camp Kesem at Fresno State
  • Outstanding Staff: Tara Powers-Mead
  • John. D. Welty Award for Excellence in Community Service: Navmit Dhesi
  • Newman Civic Fellow: Ramiro Merino Diaz
  • Humanics Program: Cinthia and Melissa Quesada
  • University Student Volunteer of the Year: Keandra “Kiki” Bryson

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The College of Arts and Humanities provides a diverse student population with the communication skills, humanistic values and cultural awareness that form the foundation of scholarship. The college offers intellectual and artistic programs that engage students and faculty and the community in collaboration, dialog and discovery. These programs help preserve, illuminate and nourish the arts and humanities for the campus and for the wider community.

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