Cassie Anderson: Saint Cloud State University’s Presidents’ Student Leadership Award Recipient

Cassie Anderson has been instrumental in helping Lutheran Social Services provide help to Somali  immigrant workers look for employment in St. Cloud. She started working for Lutheran Social Services as part of a research project being conducted by the COSS Faculty Research Group on Immigrant Workers in Minnesota “St. Cloud Somali Immigrant Work Histories” project.  Reflecting the research group’s mission to do research that is collaborative with and benefits immigrant communities in St. Cloud (and Minnesota generally), Cassie sought out Lutheran Social Services Refugee  Employment and Social Services Director Mohamed Yusuf in June, 2010 and offered to do volunteer work there as part of her research.  Her timing was impeccable, as the program was in a state of flux due to the departure of the previous director and badly in need of volunteers to fill in the gaps.  She has put in endless hours there as a volunteer and, perhaps more important, helped recruit and train 3 other SCSU  volunteers to help Somali Refugees with filling out job applications, contact employers, look through ads, practice interviews, and simply show (needed) support in a time of serious unemployment crisis in the Somali community.

As though that were not enough, Cassie Anderson has also contributed a great amount of time to La Cruz, helping them compile and run statistical data on the success of their after school program. According to the manager of La Cruz, Monica Segura-Schwartz, Cassie has been a huge help in generating a justification for grant applications to funding agencies, which the After School Program will require if it is to continue playing the vital role it does in servicing the after-school needs of Somali youth at La Cruz.

Cassie has presented a poster session on myths and stereotypes about Somali workers in St. Cloud, based entirely on her volunteer work at Lutheran Social Services and La Cruz.  She recently did a panel presentation on Somali immigrant workers in St. Cloud at the MNSCU Chancellors’ Diversity Conference on February 25th, she also will present a paper with Dr. Ajay Panicker (SOC) on her data at the upcoming Midwest Social Services. In both venues she has given a public face to SCSU’s Community Engagement mission.

 

Cassie has helped one of my classes (Sociology 177) in service learning projects in the fall semester of 2011. She first gave a vivid presentation in my class on the importance of civic responsibility and service learning; she then helped some of my students to sign on various service learning projects with Lutheran Social Services. In the mean time, she helped other students of mine with their service work at La Cruz Community Center through her own volunteer work at La Cruz. While working with my students, Cassie always accommodated my students’ various schedules, making herself highly available for them. At the Celebrating Connection event held at SCSU last fall, the students in my class won the recognition for the “Greatest Community Impact,” for that Cassie also must take credits for as well.  As for Cassie’s own effort in civic engagement and leadership, Cassie last semester shared one story about her civic engagement in her home town in Minnesota.  She said that how her home town stopped the building of a WalMart store, thanks to her investigation applying her research skills in finding out in the township bylaws which prohibited the building of a big department store under certain conditions.  Cassie truly acquires a high quality of leadership in civic responsibility and engagement; she is among the top 2% of the students I have ever taught—an exceptionally outstanding and promising student! I highly recommend her with no reservation!

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