The 2017 John D. Welty Award for Excellence in Community Service will be presented to Fresno State senior Evelyn Gonzalez for her dedication to the improvement of the community. The award, which includes a $2,500 scholarship, is given each year to a student who exemplifies the commitment to service that Welty championed during his 22 years as Fresno State’s president.

Gonzalez is majoring in sociology and minoring in Spanish and urban civic education. She has completed over 1,000 hours of service during her time at Fresno State.

As a freshman, Gonzalez served as the founding president of the Fresno State Food Recovery Network. Through the network, students collect food that would otherwise be wasted and redirect it to organizations that can use it to meet the needs of the food insecure. Thanks to Gonzalez’s efforts, over 100,000 pounds of food has been recovered since 2013.

Gonzalez applied information learned through her “Grant Writing and Evaluation” course to write a grant proposal benefiting Abundant Life Ranch, a local community benefit organization that uses horses to teach lessons of relational health and to fill children’s hearts with the knowledge that they are unique. She also was part of a team of students from the Humanics at Fresno State program’s “Students4Giving” project, which provided a $5,000 grant to Art of Life Cancer Foundation to support board development. Gonzalez continues to serve as an intern with Art of Life while also volunteering in other community projects.

Gonzalez has traveled twice to Fiji to serve residents in a rural, extremely low-income village. During one of these trips, Gonzalez acted as a student leader, helping others gain the most from their service experience by facilitating regular group discussions during the trip. In January, she will help lead a group of Fresno State and Clovis Community College students on a St. Paul Newman Center mission trip through the Monsignor McCormick’s Jamaica Mission Project.

Gonzalez’s passion for service is evidenced by the four years she has served as an ambassador for Fresno State’s Jan and Bud Richter Center for Community Engagement and Service-Learning. In this role, she helps promote, support and facilitate service among her Fresno State peers.

In nominating Gonzalez, Mellissa Jessen-Hiser, assistant director of the Richter Center, said, “When it comes to community engagement, Evelyn is the embodiment of the John D. Welty Award. Not only has she committed her personal time and education to provide direct service benefiting our community, she also has committed to helping engage others in service and to increasing the number and value of service-learning opportunities for students. Because of Evelyn our campus and our community is a better place for everyone.”

Gonzalez said, “I am beyond excited and blessed to receive this award. Service has helped define my time at Fresno State, and I’m humbled to be recognized in this way.”

The John D. Welty Award for Excellence in Community Service is sponsored by Fresno State’s Community Service Scholarship Program, in memory of Marc and Marjorie Radin, who shared Welty’s dedication for engaging students in service and making the region a better place. The Welty Award project is administered by Fresno State’s Career Development Center and the Richter Center.

For more information, contact Chris Fiorentino, Richter Center for Community Engagement and Service-Learning, at 559.278.7079.