In her first semester at UNLV, Krizel Sagun enrolled in the New Scholar Course for incoming Engelstad Scholars and gained an entirely new way of thinking. “It was so eye-opening; it changed the way I think about the world around me,” she says.
Now in her last semester, she’s helping to teach those same lessons in social change to incoming scholars.
“You start with this course and go on to do community service. It gives you broader perspective. That’s what this program is all about: Helping you to look outside of yourself," said Sagun, who plans to graduate in December with a bachelor's degree in biological sciences and a minor in neuroscience.
Giving back is at the heart of the Engelstad Scholars Program. Established by the Engelstad Foundation in 2009 through a gift to UNLV of $12.6 million, the program helps students in need — and asks that they help others. Scholars are required to contribute 100 hours a year to local nonprofit agencies. Since the program’s inception, scholars have logged more than 32,000 hours of community service.
The program is making a huge impact not only in the lives of the 170-plus UNLV students who have received its support so far, but also to thousands of people touched by its growing network of non-profit partners. The program originated with just four nonprofit placement sites for its scholars. Today, 24 local organizations and their clients will benefit from partnerships with the Engelstad Scholars Program.
For Sagun, an Honors College student who plans to become a pediatrician in Las Vegas, volunteering with elementary school students at Democracy Prep at the Agassi Campus was profound.
“I worked with kids in need to help them believe that they can go to college one day. It’s an option some of them didn’t know they have.
“When I started in the program, I was super shy and anxious in social situations,” Sagan said. “Being an Engelstad Scholar taught me to come out of my shell and look for opportunities to help others.”