Special to The Town Crier

South Texas College’s Social Science Academy students are making social connections across the Valley. Not the Twitter or MySpace variety, but rather connecting their future careers with volunteer and classroom experiences. The academy is a club of students who are interested in pursuing degrees and careers in the fields of social work, psychology, sociology and criminal justice.

Recently the club completed two services projects. The academy’s 15 members participated in the Great American Cleanup Campaign with Keep McAllen Beautiful. Members picked up trash along Dove and McColl. Also, the group collected items and compiled Easter baskets, which they passed out at the Mujeres’ Unidas (Women Together) Family-in-Transition Complex that serves women and children who are victims of domestic abuse. Students dressed in bunny ears to spread Easter cheer delivering baskets of treats to children currently residing at the complex.

Club members also traveled to Austin to observe the Texas State Legislature in action to better understand how lawmakers impact social change.

“Through the academy we are working to instill a better understanding of interpersonal human relations, in addition to a greater understanding of the human condition at all levels of society,” said Roy Escaname, STC criminal justice instructor and academy co-advisor. “We are helping them understand their civic responsibilities and preparing them for the work that lies in front of them when they get out into the working world. They, like us, will be identifying social problems and working towards solutions that can make life better for others. Their efforts now ensure their likelihood of success in the future.”

The club was also very busy in the fall semester including hosting a mini-career fair, co-hosted a Christmas Festival for Alton Head Star, distributed Christmas gift bags at the annual City of McAllen Christmas Parade and Party, and adopted and raised money to purchase Christmas gifts for three Salvation Army angels.

“In addition to the academy’s many service activities, the students are also exposed to many extracurricular learning activities including career fairs and guest speakers,” said Juanita Gomez, STC social work instructor and academy co-advisor. “We bring in guest speakers who are on the front lines trying to bring about social change.”

Academy students have been fortunate to hear speakers from the Department of Public Safety, Child Protective Services, the National Association of Social Works and Planned Parenthood.

For more information about STC’s Social Science Academy contact Escaname at 872-2687 or Gomez at 872-3562.