UH Mānoa Student is Semifinalist for National Service Award: Public Invited to Vote for Winner Online

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Josue 'Sway' Nunez

BY MARI ONO – Josue E. “Sway” Nunez, a first-year graduate student at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa’s Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work, is a national service award semifinalist for his innovative fundraising approaches in support of rehabilitation programs for individuals with mental illness.


Washington Campus Compact and Inspireum recently announced the top 50 semifinalists for the Students In Service Awards, which recognizes outstanding college students whose volunteer service positively impacts society and inspires others to serve.

Nunez is a dedicated fundraiser for the support and awareness of psychosocial rehabilitation programs for people with mental illness.  He created and led a campaign, “Miles for Mental Health,” to raise money for the Hale O Honolulu Clubhouse.  The nonprofit organization is one of 400 clubhouses in over 30 different countries that helps provide highly structured and supportive employment, continuing education, positive relationships and social interactions, mental and physical wellness education, and everyday life skills.

“Sway resonates with an energetic ‘can-do’ spirit that is palpable. He embodies the values and practice of social work through his service to and advocacy for those who struggle with mental disorders,” noted Mari Ono, MSW, who serves as Nunez’s graduate program academic advisor. “He is truly a change agent and leads by example.”

Nunez, a 30-year-old Wahiawa resident, said he is working on turning his project into its own nonprofit organization to help support and fund the 10 clubhouses in Hawai‘i.  “I am honored to be recognized both nationally and locally for this project in helping to better the lives of the people I live and work with,” noted Nunez.

Members of the public are invited to vote for their favorite student and service project through Thursday, March 3.  A national selection committee of esteemed civic leaders will select the 2011 winner and runner-up.  The “fan favorite” will be determined purely by supporter vote at www.serviceawards.org.

Scholarship recipients and their service projects will be recognized at the 14th Annual Continuums of Service Conference, a nationally recognized service and civic engagement conference, in San Diego, California, on Thursday, April 28.

Scholarships and grants totaling $25,000 will be awarded to three category benefactors.   The winner will receive a $5,000 academic scholarship, and a runner-up and “fan favorite” will each receive a $2,500 scholarship.  In addition, the service-learning centers at the university of each winning student will receive a $2,500 grant to support civic engagement programs.  Plus, $2,500 grants will be awarded to the nonprofit organizations sponsoring the winning service projects for the purpose of supporting their vital community programs.

Established in 1992 and hosted at Western Washington University, Washington Campus Compact and its membership of 41 two- and four-year colleges and universities are committed to providing meaningful experiences for students to become active, engaged leaders in their communities, furthering the civic and public purposes of higher education and strengthening communities. Washington Campus Compact is an affiliate state office of Campus Compact, a national organization comprised of more than 1,100 higher education institutions committed to the civic and public purposes of higher education.

Inspireum provides a comprehensive technology and media platform that helps organizations recognize and reward inspirational young people in America. Inspireum utilizes proprietary platform technology, hosted services and social media to create a comprehensive nomination, voting and donation platform that powers inspirational youth awards, scholarships and fund raising programs. In addition to the Students in Service Awards™, Inspireum in partnership with Trusted Sports, Inc. manages the High School Football Rudy Awards™ honoring athletes who have overcome tremendous obstacles to not only find success on the field, but also serve as an inspiration to others. This scholarship awards program looks beyond traditional athletic performance measures to reward team-oriented values and inspirational impact that help youth succeed throughout life.

The University of Hawai`i at Mānoa serves approximately 20,000 students pursuing more than 225 different degrees.  Coming from every Hawaiian island, every state in the nation, and more than 100 countries, UH Mānoa students thrive in an enriching environment for the global exchange of ideas.  For more information, visit https://manoa.hawaii.edu.  Follow us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/uhmanoa and Twitter https://twitter.com/UHManoaNews.