Winner for 2012:
Areli Bautista ('12)
As a student at Saint Mary's, Areli, of Warsaw, Ind., has served the campus and northern Indiana with heart and passion. Her dedication to social justice issues has grown through her service to those most in need and she inspires other students to take action.
Jan Pilarski, director of the Justice Education Program, suggested Areli for the award. She said in her nomination letter, “Areli is a wonderful example of the call of St. Therese of Lisieux to be 'the hands and feet of Jesus' in the world today, taking small steps every day that work powerfully toward change, growth, and conversion.”
Areli is a communication studies and psychology major with a minor in justice education. During her time at Saint Mary's she has served the region as an advocate for social justice. She is a student representative on the Northern Indiana Hispanic Health Coalition (NIHHC) in Warsaw. The coalition works to help those who are underserved gain access to basic medical care.
Areli is also involved with the group Transforming Action through Power (TAP) in South Bend, even engaging students to lobby in the city and at the state capital last year against illegal immigration legislation that critics said would put many discriminatory measures into place. Senate Enrolled Act 590, as it was called, took effect July 1.
On campus, Areli has served as a peer minister with Campus Ministry and as a member of La Fuerza, a student club that celebrates Latino cultures and promotes diversity. She helped create Action Week to educate the campus community on issues affecting the immigrant community. She presently serves as the club's vice president.
Areli said, “Throughout my four years at Saint Mary's, I have had countless opportunities to grow and be empowered to make a difference in the world. My service has shaped who I am today. I have grown to care for others and do whatever I can to promote social justice.”
Pilarski said, “Areli's faith and devotion to service inspire not only her fellow students, but so many of us who have had the experience of teaching her in the classroom. Areli is committed to the gospel and the tradition of Catholic Social Thought, and she continually seeks ways to put her faith into practice by skillfully combining service with advocacy.”
According to Judy Fean, director of Campus Ministry, “Areli is a courageous woman of faith who gives witness to the compassionate love of God through her involvement as a peer minister and her service to the Church.
Her commitment to be a voice for the underserved and her openness to educate the community on issues affecting the immigrant community are demonstrated during events like Action Week.”
After graduation, Areli will work as the program director for NIHHC. She will also begin graduate studies in journalism and/or psychology at Indiana University South Bend .
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