David Aston, a management major at California State University, Fresno, represents the new breed of college student that is putting the world and its needs first — a trait that earned him one of the highest statewide college honors this week.
Aston is one of 21 students from throughout the state named Monday for the STARS Award (Students That Are Recognized for Service) by the California State University system.
On Friday, April 20, Aston will be honored at the 37th Annual Craig School of Business Awards Dinner at Tornino’s in Fresno at 7 p.m. He will also be honored on Wednesday, April 25 at the 33rd Fresno Volunteer Bureau Luncheon for being one of three finalists for the University Volunteer of the Year Award.
The STARS Award, created last year by the CSU Office of the Chancellor and the systemwide Office of Service Learning, acknowledges the students’ outstanding efforts in service learning projects and their ongoing commitment to serve the community.
Students from 20 different campuses were selected for their innovative efforts that improved the lives of individuals, or the community at large, in at least one of the following areas: social justice, social, economic, health, public safety or environmental issues during the last year.
“David is the perfect student for this honor,” said Dr. Karen Dill Bowerman, associate dean of the Sid Craig School of Business who nominated Aston. “College students are rekindling an interest in service to the community and David’s wide range of involvement makes him the ideal role model. He has a passion for people, and devotes his life to enhancing the lives of others.”
He devoted 40 hours per week for 12 straight months to serving the Fresno community.
Among his many contributions includes serving the past twelve months as an AmeriCorps Promise Fellow with 1byOne – Fresno Leadership Foundation (1byOne).
1byOne is a local nonprofit agency in Fresno devoted to transforming leadership for a healthier valley future one person, one business, and one neighborhood at a time.
“The focus of David’s service has been to partner with young people, and organizations to find innovative collaborative solutions to the challenges that face youth everyday,” Dill-Bowerman said.
Aston also saw that the greatest opportunity for change and creative solutions existed among youth who have been labeled “at-risk” or “high-risk” for one reason or another, she added.
“Many of these young people displayed their assets in ways that were not appropriate or legal, but he felt that if they were shown love and given a positive outlet for their energy many of them would be some of the most creative investors for the solutions to the challenges that they faced,” Bowerman said.
Aston’s commitment to serving the community started out with World Impact and the simple act of playing basketball. He spent 15 volunteer hours with World Impact not only playing basketball, but also providing rides for teens and being a friend to many of the youth from West Fresno and the downtown area.
“David quickly fell in love with the people and the students and saw great opportunities to serve and be a part of the community that he had never known,” Bowerman said. “Six months later he moved downtown into the Lowell neighborhood and feels that he has been learning, serving and living his life to the fullest.”
Other services Aston has provided:
• Helped to organize and facilitate a collaborative of faith-based individuals and organizations working with at-risk youth (At-Risk Ministries or ARM’s Network) and increase the scope of the network;
• Planned and organized the second Annual Youth Leadership Journey to Jackson, Mississippi, for the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA) Youth Conference;
• Worked to create a tool to track and evaluate the health of youth in a community and the effectiveness of programs aimed at youth;
• Led workshops on Developmental Assets for both training mentors and young people in how to build assets into their lives;
• Helped establish working relationship with public/private ventures to research their youth mentoring initiative focused on “high-risk” youth.
Two other STARS Award finalists from Fresno State were Michael Alaniz, Physical Therapy major, and John Thomas, a Psychology major.