Center for Student Involvement van drivers take a break from their driving duties.
Center for Student Involvement van drivers take a break from their driving duties.

Honk! Honk! All aboard! In an exciting new pilot investment of campus resources, three new bright and shiny eight-passenger vans are now available to UC San Diego students who are working as program volunteers or in course-related service. The vans transport UC San Diego riders to and from the university to various community service activities, particularly those in low-income, high-need communities.

“The Office of the Vice Chancellor of  Student Affairs provided generous funding for the vans and new student driver positions. This endeavor has also received a funding gift from the Weil Family Foundation,” explained Tiveeda Stovall, student affairs officer for the Center for Student Involvement (CSI).

For UC San Diego students, transportation to and from campus to community service locations, particularly those in formerly underserved communities, has been a perpetual challenge.  Many Tritons have not been able to participate in student service activities and courses, not because of a lack of good will and energy to serve, but because they just didn’t have a ride.

“Now students can reserve a seat on the van which will help transport them directly to their service sites in a timely manner. It is our hope that easier access to the greater San Diego community will encourage more students to get involved and explore the broad range of community service and learning opportunities we have throughout UC San Diego,” Stovall said.

According to Susan Yonezawa, associate director and network coordinator for the CREATE STEM Success Initiative at CREATE (Center for Research on Educational Equity, Assessment and Teaching Excellence), collaboration was key to making the new vans a reality.

“CREATE’s close working relationship and its partnerships with the Preuss School at UC San Diego and Gompers Preparatory Academy highlighted the need for campus transportation in conversations with the Weil Family Foundation. Meanwhile, our colleagues at CSI were working on the very same issue. It just made so much sense for us to work on this together, and help each other get it done and then work on adapting the van use to serve as many programs on campus as possible. We’re not quite there yet, but we’re working on getting there!”

This fall UC San Diego interns and volunteers with the Center for Student Involvement’s EducationCorps program, the Thurgood Marshall College/CREATE School Partnership Program, and student tutors from the Math Tutor Corps at Eleanor Roosevelt College and Education Studies’ Partners at Learning (PAL) students are on board testing the vans. CSI planners anticipate JusticeCorps volunteers serving the San Diego Hall of Justice will be heavy users as well. Next on board: van organizers hope student mentors from Muir College’s College Academic Mentoring Program (CAMP), a new course placing students in college counseling roles in low-income schools, and volunteers from UC San Diego Athletics who currently work with the School of Medicine’s pediatrics grant to help local elementary school students learn about the value of an active lifestyle.

“We’re pleased the CSI and the CREATE STEM Success Initiative could work together to make this new transportation service for campus a reality,” Yonezawa said. “This is a great example of how strong collective partnerships among on- and off-campus entities can benefit UC San Diego students and service learning. Even more, we were able to tap terrific alumni, like Brian Tsui, a Jacobs Engineering School grad whose company TransitReserve created a wonderful online reservation system to support the system.”

Van transportation is free of charge to UC San Diego students. For more information on routes and reservations, or if you are over 21 and interested in becoming a paid van driver contact the Center for Student Involvement.