HHD Student Wins CSUF's Top Community Engagement Award

Patty Valdez

Human Services major and CICE’s 2017
Outstanding Student Leader Patricia Valdez

The programs at the College of Health and Human Development are rooted in the integration of theory and practice. In the last academic year alone, HHD students contributed nearly 600,000 hours — equivalent to more than 60 years — of course-related and voluntary service to community organizations serving children and families.

Human Services major Patricia Valdez brings classrooms concepts to life at institutions serving some of our most vulnerable communities. She helps families in crisis through an internship with child welfare agency, Crittenton. Last year, she provided medical, social, and emotional support to St. Jude’s homeless patients. Patricia’s initiative and dedication at St. Jude — she helped organize a fundraiser and recruited her own family as volunteers, among other achievements — was recognized by Cal State Fullerton’s Center for Internships and Community Engagement, who honored her with this year’s Outstanding Student Leader award. 

Why is helping our homeless population important?

Helping the homeless is important because of the barriers they face on a day-to-day basis. Many have mental illnesses and need the extra support, or they’re unaware of the resource available to them. Those who are aware often have a very difficult time navigating the system for a variety of reasons.

The homeless population deserves a chance to live a life just as myself or anyone else. Often, homeless individuals are stigmatized and tossed aside, but they are human beings with their own story to tell.  They deserve to be treated with dignity. They have a right to be rejoin society, no matter their economic status or life choices.

What does receiving CICE’s Outstanding Student Leader award mean to you?

Receiving CICE’s Outstanding Leader award is an honor. It makes me want to continue to give 110% to  the community. The award has set my personal standards higher than before.

I would not have been able to flourish without my professors at CSUF and my supervisor Carrie De Laurie. From the bottom of my heart, I thank everyone who has played a role in my education at CSUF.  

How will your internship at St. Jude Medical Center help you achieve your career goals?

My internship at St. Jude Medical Center impacted my outlook for my career path and gave me tools and resources I will use on the job. I learned the importance of demonstrating cultural sensitivity and empathy for clients. In my future career, I plan on helping individuals who are low income, at risk for homelessness, or who are already homeless.

What do you hope to do after graduation?

I plan on pursuing a master’s degree in social work and continue serving my community and making a positive impact on the most vulnerable.