Two BVU leaders earn campus compact honors

Friday, April 17, 2020
Maria Garcia, a 2012 graduate of Buena Vista University, earned the 2020 Campus Compact Alumni Leadership Award. / Photo submitted

Two Buena Vista University community leaders and selfless givers have earned prestigious awards in Campus Compact Iowa’s 2020 Engaged Campus Awards.

Maria Garcia, a 2012 BVU graduate, earned the Alumni Leadership Award, while Wava Jarr, a junior, earned the President’s Student Leadership Award.

“I am so proud of both Maria and Wava for the work they’ve done, and the work they continue to do, on behalf of others,” says BVU President Joshua Merchant. “Through her role as a leader at work and across this region, Maria Garcia reaches those in need, and never forgets the people and the community she’s serving. Wava Jarr continues to be a campus leader, a future educator whose vision stretches well beyond our borders. These award winners make us proud at BVU, proud to be a partner of Campus Compact, an organizational leader that knows all too well how seriously we at BVU take our mission, Education for Service.”

Wava Jarr, a Buena Vista University junior, earned the 2020 Campus Compact President’s Student Leadership Award.

Garcia serves as program supervisor in the Behavioral Health Intervention Services Program for Lutheran Services in Iowa, working to supervise staffers in a geographic area stretching from Denison northward to Clay County, assisting social workers who work with children and families in developing skill-building interventions based on areas of need.

Garcia began with Lutheran Services in Iowa as an intern majoring in social work at BVU in 2012, the year she graduated.

“I did an internship with Lutheran Services in Iowa, and there was a job offer made not long after I concluded my internship,” says Garcia, a resident of Storm Lake, who began by meeting with Spanish-speaking families. She became a supervisor five years into her career.

“I now attend community-based meetings and explain what LSI can do for people,” says Garcia, a 2008 graduate of Storm Lake High School. “I obtain referrals for our staff members and work to connect workers and families with the services we can provide.”

Garcia lauds the relationship she enjoys with her alma mater, BVU. “I had a great experience at BVU, and I have taken on social work majors from BVU as interns. I had excellent professors who helped me get to where I am today.”

Garcia, who is positioned to earn her master’s degree next month, humbly accepts the award on behalf of her employer as well as others.

“You know your work is good when you see it in the clients and staff you’re working with,” she says. “I’m thankful for Lutheran Services of Iowa for bringing me on as a BVU intern and then hiring me as a social worker.”

Wava Jarr, a junior from Fairfield, earned the President’s Student Leadership Award. Jarr, an art education major, is set to graduate in May 2021. She’s seeking a special education endorsement as well, aiming to focus on behavior.

One of Jarr’s premier experiences as a BVU student came one year ago when she traveled on spring break to the Dominican Republic to participate in the University’s Alternative Week of Offsite Learning (AWOL). While there, Jarr taught English Language Learners and began to formulate ways in which she could use her skills as an artist and art teacher across curricula.

Jarr is in the midst of creating a lighthouse mural featuring sensory areas such as sand and turf, allowing students to feel their way around the piece as they count lights.

“It’s an interactive mural geared to benefit all students, but one that’s applicable to children with autism,” Jarr says. “It is designed to have a calming effect for students.”

Jarr seeks to one day develop a sensory room with an emphasis on art. She recently talked about her ideas at the ACRES (American Council on Rural Special Education) National Conference for special education teachers and administrators in San Antonio.

In addition to participating in BVU’s AWOL experiential learning quests, Jarr serves as president of Student MOVE (Mobilizing Outreach & Volunteer Efforts) on campus and has recently participated in planning for BVU’s upcoming Buenafication Day tradition.

“We’re considering a virtual volunteering effort where students and alums can make a different in their communities since nearly everyone is off-campus this semester,” Jarr says.

For Jarr, the decision to proceed with Buenafication Day was important. “I love doing service. It’s always been a part of me,” she says. “It’s very humbling to be recognized for the work by Iowa Campus Compact. Earning the honor makes me want to learn and grow even more in my service capabilities.”

In addition to these individual awards, there were two group efforts cited in the 2020 Campus Compact honors. Storm Lake CommUnity Education earned the President’s Community Partner Award, while BVU’s Civic Action Planning Implementation Team has been presented the Civic Engagement Leadership Award.

“While this recognition is an honor for CommUnity Education,” says Director Joe Kucera, “it is one shared with thousands of members of the community that make up our organization and help serve our residents. It’s also an honor we humbly share with one of our greatest education partners and service providers, Buena Vista University, as we continue to find ways to better serve students and our community by matching students and their passions with service opportunities that ultimately benefit us all.”