First Class of Service Scholars Graduates

May 11, 2011 5:43 AM

New Wave Staff

Joe Paluch completed more than 250 hours of community service as a Tulane undergraduate and a Community Service Scholar. He will graduate on Thursday (May 12), but his dedication to public service continues with Teach for America.

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Pubic Service Scholars

Joe Paluch, right, and other Tulane volunteers prepare and paint raised garden beds as an Outreach Tulane project. Community service has played a major role in Paluch’s college experience. (Photo from the Tulane Center for Public Service)

Paluch, who will finish with a bachelor’s degree in political science, is a sterling example of the 13 graduates in the class of 2011 who were in the first full cohort of Community Service Scholars. He says his community service work at Tulane was a hallmark of his college experience and inspired him to become an educator.

At Tulane, Paluch took on the challenge of running the CACTUS Home for Homework project, a mentorship and homework assistance program, during his sophomore year after serving as a volunteer for a year.

Starting a club and making sure it continues to be successful takes time, motivation and energy, Paluch says. His Home for Homework experience, however, played a major role in his acceptance into Teach for America. 

“I knew it was important to show students they were worth my time and energy each week,” Paluch says. “I have learned the importance of understanding people and how with that, you can connect with anyone.” 

Students are selected for the four-year Community Service Scholars Program based on a record of exceptional community service in high school and a commitment to continue that work in college.

The Community Service Scholarship provides $5,000 or $15,000 yearly to selected students who must complete at least 200 hours of community service over four years.

“The goal is to equip students with the skills needed to become leaders and agents of social change through service, advocacy, community organizing and applied leadership,” says Vincent Ilustre, executive director of the Tulane Center for Public Service.

Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000