West Virginia Secretary of State Betty Ireland will join West Virginia Universitys Center for Civic Engagement in honoring 190 WVU students, two faculty members and a graduate teaching assistant who have made a difference in the community.

Ireland is set to speak at WVU s Presidents Volunteer Service Awards ceremony at 7 p.m. Thursday (Feb. 28) in the Mountainlair ballrooms.

WVU students who completed more than 100 hours of volunteer work or service-learning courses last year could be nominated for the award. The 190 honorees collectively logged more than 42,000 hours of community service.

There are three levels of recognition: bronze, 100-174 hours of service; silver, 175-249 hours; and gold, 250 or more hours. Ninety-five WVU students will receive the bronze, 42 silver and 53 gold.

From health education programs to direct practice activities like tutoring children, WVU students apply expert knowledge in the community to meet community needs,said Kimberly Colebank, director of the Universitys Center for Civic Engagement.Every day students donate their time, energy and talent to have a positive impact in their communities.

Some of the ways WVU students are involved include organizing Relay for Life teams to raise money for cancer research, tutoring children in after-school programs at The Shack Neighborhood House, building houses through Habitat for Humanity, preparing meals at the Ronald McDonald House, visiting patients at the WVU Childrens Hospital and mentoring Energy Express kids from rural and low-income communities.

Colebank said the award is WVU s way of thanking these impressive students and inspiring people to make community engagement a central part of their lives. During the ceremony, honorees will be recognized with a pin, certificate and letter signed by President Bush, who established the award in 2003.

For the first time, the University will also be honoring two faculty members and a graduate student for their contributions to civic engagement and service learning with the Excellence in Service Learning Teaching Award. The recipients are Gina Carbonara, Evan Widders and Joy Greene.

Carbonara, who has a Doctor of Pharmacy degree from the University of Pittsburgh, is a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Clinical Pharmacy. Her areas of interest include experiential education, service-learning, community pharmacy practice experiences and pain management.

She coordinates the Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experience (IPPE) courses for pharmacy students.

One component of IPPE is service learning, so we partnered with the Center for Civic Engagement,Carbonara said.We want students to get hands-on experience in the community. During the second professional year of IPPE , students are required to complete a service-learning project.

Widders is an assistant professor and coordinator of the Eberly College Multidisciplinary Studies (MDS) Program, which is heavily involved in the community. Including this semester, about 400 MDS students have worked on community service projects over the past two years.

The partnership with the Center for Civic Engagement has been extremely successful in creating a bridge between the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences and the community, Widders said.

Both sides win as the community benefits from the skills of graduating college seniors at no cost, while the seniors get a nonprofit work experience to put on their soon-to-be circulating resumes,he said.

Greene is a second-year graduate teaching assistant in English at WVU . For the past two years, she has worked with the nonprofit group, Literacy Volunteers, whose mission is to increase the number of adults with basic literacy skills in Monongalia and Preston counties.

Students in my classes were looking for a real-world connection, and having worked in a nonprofit, I see all kinds of writing students can identify with,said Greene, who encourages students to write about community issues.

For more information about the Presidents Volunteer Service Awards or WVU s Center for Civic Engagement, visithttp://cce.wvu.edu/.