Valder Award recipients work for social change

The Valder Award is a scholarship open to any junior at Loras College. Mike Valder, a Loras graduate, experienced a life-changing social justice trip the summer of his junior year. He was a shy, introverted medical student, but after that summer he found his voice and became passionate about making systemic change.

Every year Mr. Valder offers $3,000 to four juniors who want to go anywhere in the United States for eight to 10 weeks to work for social change. Extra funds are given for traveling and living expenses.

In the past years, recipients have gone to San Francisco, Washington D.C., Massachusetts and Colorado. The scholarship is a unique opportunity to explore new areas of the U.S., meet new people, immerse into a new culture, and help an organization make social change.

“The Valder experience was nothing that I could imagine or make up,” said Celeste Espinoza, who volunteered at Posada in Pueblo, CO. “It was a unique experience made special by the clients I have met and the staff I worked with. I could not have asked to learn from better people.”

“I see myself as a new person,” Celeste explained about her self-transformation. “I am more confident in myself, and not in just one area. My life has been changed forever because before, I would hide behind others for their answers. Now, I want people to see what I am capable of and know that I can be a difference in someone’s life.”

Louisa Pavlik, another recipient, traveled to Massachusetts to serve on an organic farm.

“Through the Valder Award, I was able to get out of my normal realm and daily life for eight weeks,” Pavlik said. “Farming helped me put the way I live in perspective. The differences in how I nourish myself, serve others and spend my time outdoors have helped me to see how out of balance my life has been with the earth.”

“I am now more in sync with my body and the rhythm of the earth because of the Valder experience,” Pavlik believes.

Experiences of past recipients exemplify the unique experience possible for a student. Students receive an opportunity unlike traditional internships. From business to social work, students will get paid to explore new cities, experiences and cultures. They can even get college credit for their experience.

All of the recipients highly recommend the program and suggest everyone apply for it. Take advantage of this opportunity and live a new experience for a summer.

Applications become available on Monday, Oct. 24. They can be accessed through the Inside Loras “Spiritual Life” page or by requesting an application from Anastacia McDermott at Anastacia.mcdermott@loras.edu. Applications will be due Friday, Feb. 3.

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