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New Miner Volunteer Corps to mobilize students

File photo
Gary Edens, vice-president of student affairs, speaks at the launching ceremony of the Miner Volunteer Corps.

The Miner Volunteer Corp brings a potential army of service-learners to the UTEP campus. The group, administered through the Center for Civic Engagement, will provide large-scale deployment of volunteers for community projects on and off campus.

“This is a year-round concept where organizations may ask us for volunteers that are ready and all on call to serve,” said Azuri Gonzalez, director of the center for civic engagement. “We came up with this program to meet the need from both sides; we can have students who are ready to serve as well as the time when organizations need people.”

The CCE typically provides community service through service-learning courses where students participate with partners to gain hands-on experience in the community.

The first members of the MVC were recruited from a pool of students who had previously volunteered or worked for the CCE. This soft-launch took place at the end of the Spring 2013 semester.

“We’ve been working all summer long to get this program launched,” said Victoria Quiñonez, junior public relations major. “The minute they brought it up to me I was all in.”

The CCE is typically inundated with requests for students to participate in a variety of fundraisers, walk-a-thons and galas.

Previously, volunteer requests were shared through a listserv or emailed out to student organizations. This tactic was not always successful and occasionally left requests only partially filled.

With the advent of Project Move, UTEP began deploying vast amounts of students to meet community needs. However, the limited time scale of Project Move required non-profit partners to limit their programming to one day.

The CCE wanted to create a program that could mobilize students for the cornucopia of events that take place year-round.

“This is a way for us to build community around students,” Gonzalez said. “What we’re really trying to instill is the spirit of serving.”

The MVC will give incentives in the program by offering “picks” to participants. More picks allow students to become eligible for prizes. Silver level participants and volunteering twice will reward students with a t-shirt and full membership.

The prizes scale until students become gold level MVC members where they become eligible to graduate with special cords.

Though a number of projects are planned, it would be difficult for seniors graduating this semester to gain enough points to walk with MVC cords.

The volunteer clearing house, which works to partner students with community organizations for internships, will continue without any change.

At the full launch, students were introduced to the idea of the MVC.

The grand opening was presented to a packed room despite torrential rains preventing some from attending.

“I’m excited that a lot of students came today and signed up to help a good cause,” said Enrique Botello, MVC member and senior marketing and supply chain management major.

The program is currently limited to students. In the future, the MVC will be expanded to include faculty and staff. The CCE is examining the possibility of including other organizations in their efforts but said that this will be primarily a student group.

In the future, the MVC may be connected with disaster preparedness.

Students participating in service-learning courses may also join the Corps, however, it will be at the discretion of the faculty whether to allow them to “double-dip” for participation points.

All progress in the Corps will be available through Mine Tracker, which could make it easier for students to aggregate and report volunteer hours.

For more information about the Miner Volunteer Corps, visit the CCE website at

S. David Ramirez may be reached at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
S. David Ramirez
S. David Ramirez, Staff Reporter
S. David Ramirez is currently an English and American Literature major wrapping up his final year at UTEP. He has written for the Lakefront, the Thing Itself literary magazine, the Tejano Tribune and The Prospector. When not striving for journalistic excellence, he helps organize fandom conventions around the Lone Star State, including El Paso Wintercon and San Japan, San Antonio’s largest Japanese culture and anime convention. He hopes to spend his academic career educating the public about the dangers of Jane Austen and the medicinal benefits of reading the Brontë sisters. His research in popular culture studies has taken him across the nation and he hopes to continue presenting findings on music, media and literature at future conferences. David says his success is due to a pact with the dread Lord Cthlulhu of R’ley fame, but he may just be reading too much H. P. Lovecraft in his off time. He is currently applying to graduate schools for communication rhetoric or writing and rhetoric. If you, or someone you know, is on these admissions boards, please contact him directly.
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New Miner Volunteer Corps to mobilize students