Celebration of Community Engagement

2018 Awardees


On May 9, 2018, more than 27 awards were given to community organizations, students, staff, faculty, and alumni at the 2018 Celebration of Community Engagement. The event honored those involved in community-campus engagement and included a faculty keynote by Michele Goodwin, Chancellor’s Professor of Law. The awards were sponsored by three campus units, each with its own nomination process and appointed review committee; UCI Engage sponsored the inaugural Engaged Teaching & Engaged Research Faculty Awards; UCI Volunteer Programs and Community Organizations sponsored the Undergraduate Excellence in Service Award, Graduate Student Future of the Field Award, Campus Organization Excellence in Service Award, and Engaged Alumnus Award; UCI Social Ecology Field Study sponsored the Outstanding Field Study Community Partner Award, Exemplary New Field Study Partner Award, Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award, and Campus Community Partnership Award. 

Take a moment to read about the winners below.


UCI Engage Inaugural Awards


Outstanding Engaged Teaching Faculty Award

david kilgore headshot

Dr. David Kilgore is a Clinical Professor of Family Medicine, and director of the Integrative Medicine Program at the UCI Family Health Center. The Family Health Center provides services to the poor and underserved in our community. Dr. Kilgore teaches medical students, residents, and undergraduates about patient-centered care and integrative medicine which considers all factors that influence health, wellness and disease. Dr. Kilgore has designed and implemented several programs that address holistic care and disease prevention which have not only provided patients with valuable resources for healthy living and managing disease but also provided our students with the education to incorporate these elements into their own treatment methods. Dr. Kilgore’s teaching, both in the clinic and in the lecture hall, inspires and renews learners’ dedication to a patient-centered approach that emphasizes wellness, prevention and self-care skills, and adoption of the principles for creating optimal healing environments. Dr. Kilgore is a dedicated teacher and mentor who is passionate about integrative medicine and sharing his knowledge with fellow faculty, students and the community we serve.

“Dr. Kilgore has been an outstanding, supportive faculty to us all and has done so much to improve resident wellness. We are very lucky to have him as our mentor and teacher and the integrative medicine track has been the highlight of my residency training.” ‐‐ Christine Chon, PGY3, UCI Family Medicine


Outstanding Engaged Research Faculty Award

Carol Booth Olson is the Director of the UC Irvine site of the National Writing Project and a Professor in the School of Education at the University of California, Irvine.

Professor Olson has an impressive history researching effective ways to support teachers and enhance their reading and writing instruction for students so that they have the analytical reading and writing skills needed to be successful in college and to be career ready. Professor Olson designed and implemented the Pathway Project approach, which empowers teachers to model best practices and provides them with opportunities to develop their students’ motivation to apply their own skills to become successful readers and writers.  Her research not only trains and supports teachers but has a lasting impact on the many students who are fortunate enough to be in these classrooms. Professor Olson has received over $25 million in grants to share the Pathway Project approach with numerous school districts from Santa Barbara to San Diego. Her commitment to teacher support and student enrichment has been unwavering.

“The gifts she has provided for our teachers and students continue to come. We are so encouraged by her and her work…Carol is so deserving of this award because she has selflessly given her time and energy to share what she has learned through her decades of research with the communities around her.” Huy Chung, Norwalk-La Mirada Unified School District.

UCI Campus Organizations & Volunteer Programs Sponsored Awards 



Undergraduate Excellence in Service Award

As a first-generation college student and daughter of Cambodian refugees, Sophaline is passionate about serving the Southeast Asian community.

She is involved with the Student Outreach and Retention Center, Orange County and Southeast Asian Archive Center, Southeast Asian Student Association, and the Southeast Asian Leaders High School Mentorship program at Garden Grove High School.

In her leadership roles, Sophaline advocates for social justice for underrepresented and underserved communities.

sanjanaa ellur headshotThroughout her time at UCI, Sanjanaa’s has devoted her time and energy to be an advocate for students’ interests on campus. She is the creator of the Zot Out Hunger program at UCI and she has helped host UCI’s Hunger and Homelessness Awareness week. Sanjanaa’s efforts also helped to pass the Food Pantry Referendum.

Sanjanaa is also currently serving as Chief of Staff for ASUCI Office of the Internal Vice President.

navid ghaffani and colleagues holding up anteater ambassadors network bannerNavid is President of the Anteater Ambassadors Network and also serves as Bio Sci EASE Peer Coach to help guide freshman through their introductory courses. In addition, he was a mentor in the Antleader Mentorship Program for two years.

Off campus, Navid is a volunteer with the Trauma Intervention Program where he provides emotional and practical support to victims of traumatic incidences and their families.

maria nguyen posed next to friendMaria also volunteers with UC Irvine’s medical students to visit local, underserved schools to teach and hopefully to inspire them to become interested in the STEM field.

Additionally, Maria volunteers at the Boys and Girls Club of Santa Ana.


Graduate Student Future of the Field Award

David is a doctoral candidate in the School of Education at UCI. His research interests are in STEM engagement, afterschool programs, and diversity.

David is currently engaged in a design-based research project, based in a research practice partnership, to understand how to design afterschool programs that connect home, school, and community resources.

David and his team design, plan, and implement weekly science afterschool programs and monthly family science nights at a local school. The aim of the project is to support students to position themselves as active science learners and to use science to improve their communities.

william minteer with colleaguesWill has long had a passion for improving the lives and healthcare of underserved communities, and he has volunteered for medical missions abroad in countries such as Mexico and Tanzania.

He has served for three years as Co-President of the Flying Samaritans at UCI’s School of Medicine, a non-profit organization that makes frequent trips to Mexico to provide essential healthcare services in regions that lack providers.

ryland smith headshotRylan is the lead researcher for the Police Officer Perception Project and is a member of the Irvine Laboratory for the Study of Space and Crime.

He has published multiple peer-reviewed articles in leading academic outlets, and presented his work at multiple academic and policy-based conferences, including regional and national conferences, across North America and Europe.

He has participated in more than 600 hours of police ride-alongs in Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom. He is also a current police dispatcher in British Columbia, Canada, with six years’ experience, and has shared his work with hundreds of police officers from multiple different agencies across the world.


Campus Organization Excellence in Service Award 

students in lab coats

Reach Out Teach Out provides information and resources for students in the form of laboratory visits, graduate student access, and mentoring and encouragement to pursue other opportunities.

Students get a behind-the-scenes look inside UCI laboratories. The students can see that what they learn and do in school is applicable to the real world and that their education is on par with other schools.

The graduate students provide hope and mentorship to the students by sharing their personal experiences and backgrounds and showing that it is possible for them to also succeed, especially in STEM.


Engaged Alumnus Award

mike benvenuti headshot

Mike is a member of the Investment Committee of OC Cove Fund I, LLC. He is an active Expert in Residence at UCI Applied Innovation since 2014, and an advisor or board member with several early stage startups.

In addition to his volunteer service with UCI Applied Innovation, Mr. Benvenuti has been active with the Paul Merage School of Business serving on the Advisory Board of the Beall Center of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (2000-2005), the Advisory Board for the Annual Business Plan Competition (2002-2007) and as a member of the Executive Mentor Program (2013-present).

Mike received a BS (cum laude) in Civil Engineering and an MBA in Finance from UC Irvine and served as president of the Student Chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers during his time here.

sitaru nayudu headshot

Sitara is a current and charter member of the UC Irvine Young Alumni Council, a Chapter Representative on the UCI Alumni Association Board of Directors, and she regularly attends UCI Alumni Association events.

As a student at UCI, Sitara received her B.S. in environmental engineering and was involved with Engineering Student Council (ESC), the UCI Speech and Debate team, Pi Beta Phi, and the Associated Students of UCI (ASUCI). She was elected the undergraduate Student Body President in her senior year and was selected to be the first student to sit on the UCI Foundation Board of Trustees.

Sitara is now a Senior Project Manager for, managing their largest product which was recently acquired by Amazon.


Excellence in Community Engagement Award

anthony frisbee next to police vehicle

Lt. Frisbee is responsible for overseeing the UC Irvine Health Public Safety Division of UCIPD.

Prior to UCI, he worked with the CA Dept. of Forestry and Fire, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, Orange County Probation Department, and Torrance Police Department.

He is active in several community policing endeavors such as FBI T.A.R.G.E.T. Violence Prevention for Institutions of Higher Education team.

sandy lee with colleagues

Sandy is the Young Alumni Engagement Manager in the Paul Merage School of Business. Prior to that, Sandy worked in UCI’s Office of Donor Relations for over 14 years.

Sandy was the founding advisor of the Anteater Ambassadors Network, a community service and professional development organization that volunteers at a wide variety of campus and donor events.

goran matijasevic headshot

Goran is Executive Director of the UCI Chief Executive Roundtable and in that capacity, he oversees and advances research collaborations and strategic initiatives associated with Roundtable programs and mission objectives.

Goran is one of UC Irvine’s ambassadors to the local and national business community, establishing partnerships and opportunities that serve to enhance leader-to-leader connections across the campus.

Goran also serves as the senior assistant vice chancellor for Alumni and Constituent Relations, working on enhancing alumni engagement.

maria perezcastaneda headshot

Marie was a dedicated employee of UCI for 36 years, ending her full-time career as Director of Business Services for the Office of Information Technology in October of 2016.

During her tenure at UCI and since her retirement, she has inspired and engaged with the community, volunteering with the Orange County Rescue Mission (OCRM) and Heritage Elementary STEAM Magnet School in Tustin.

At the OCRM, Marie has been assisting students in their Village of Hope’s Success Center with career path, networking opportunities, and temporary placements. In addition, Marie assists with their Development Team and Volunteer Department by preparing class projects, organizing class libraries, supporting the school library, and assisting with special events and assemblies.

thuy vo dang headshot

Thuy is the Curator for the Southeast Asian Archive at the University of California, Irvine, and she played a central role in mentoring the student researchers to catalogue materials for UCI’s Special Collections.

She serves on the Board of Directors for Arts Orange County and the Vietnamese American Arts and Letters Association, both nonprofit arts organizations.

Thuy co-authored the book, Vietnamese in Orange County, published in 2015, and she is currently working on “A People’s Guide to Orange County” (an alternative travel guide that seeks to unearth the hidden histories of marginalized groups in the county).


UCI Social Ecology Field Study Sponsored Awards 


Outstanding Field Study Community Partner

UC Irvine counselors

The C.O.A.C.H. Program is a motivational program that assists students in accomplishing their academic, social, and personal goals. Co‐sponsored by the Division of Undergraduate Education and the Counseling Center, the program’s primary goal is to provide a peer life coach to students who are feeling stressed, unmotivated, or worried about their grades or life in general. The role of the life coach is to motivate and assist students in their endeavor for ultimate success.


Exemplary New Field Study Partner

people sitting next to an illumination foundation trailer

At Illumination Foundation, field study students have direct client interaction including homeless individuals, families and at-risk youth. They are trained and mentored by professional staff and are entrusted to carry on tasks independently.

Beyond field study, they collaborate with UCI’s Medical Initiative, Against Homelessness, to create a mobile clinic and share their expertise in the community and on campus.

Their staff and leadership regularly attend Field Study Meet and Greets and community partner workshops to enhance their field study opportunities and make this a win-win partnership.


Outstanding Field Study Mentor 

carolyn spivak headshot

Carolyn’s field study students recognized her many attributes and strengths:  

“Carolyn provided me with a great deal of perspective about working within the nonprofit sector.”

“Carolyn is knowledgeable and easy to talk to” said one student, and another praised her “honest and realistic advice.”

“Carolyn educated me in various realms in life…beyond what the internship entails.” And another added, “She taught me compassion and diligence.”

outreach concern banner

Lori’s effectiveness can be summed up in the words of her field study students:

“Lori taught me and continues to teach me what I know now.” Another student wrote that Lori “…gave me confidence” and another noted that she “…is readily available.”

“(Lori) constantly gives me tools not only to use with the students but also for myself as an individual.”

She “…gives me titles of books to read to use as sources to help me learn more on what to do with my clients.”


Campus Community Partnership Award

Doctor alfonso valdez headshot

Alfonso is a recognized trainer and consultant in the areas of youth violence, gang sociology and behaviors, gang investigations and prosecutions, parent/teacher awareness issues, prevention and intervention models, and occult/ritual crimes.

He is a consultant to the California and U.S. Departments of Justice, as well as to the U.S. Military, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency.

Alfonso has written and published over 80 articles and 12 books on gang histories, customs and practices, and related issues.

In 2009, Alfonso was named “Professor of the Year” by the University of California, Irvine.

High Ground Youth and Family Services

After retiring from a successful career in film production and corporate communications, Joe Baldo began volunteering at Juvenile Hall in Orange, CA. Joe subsequently founded the non-profit organization, Higher Ground Youth & Family Services in 2012.

By partnering with a wide range of organizations, Higher Ground identifies youth at the elementary, middle, and high school level who are “at risk,” and offers them a positive support system in a friendly, safe environment.

The organization now has a dedicated group of board members and a growing volunteer and intern base.


Community and Civic Engagement, Philanthropy Lab Class Grant Recipients

school on wheels recipients posing with the Provost and Vice ProvostPhilanthropy Lab Grant Recipient



OCPAC recipients posing with the Chancellor and Vice Provost

Philanthropy Lab Grant Recipient

Girls Inc. recipients posing with Chancellor and vice provost

Philanthropy Lab Grant Recipient

Laura's house recipients posing with the chancellor and vice provost

Philanthropy Lab Grant Recipient

2018-12-07T13:08:22+00:00 May 9, 2018|