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Pacific College Corps fellows get leadership experience, strengthen community ties over spring break

What did you do over spring break? Chemistry major Seung Ham ’24 spent part of his week off serving the Stockton community at Unbound Stockton’s Peace and Unity Camp. Ham led elementary school students through a variety of activities to help them develop kindness and appreciation for diversity while also cultivating new friendships.  

“It’s been a great experience,” Ham said. “I get to work with kids in the area. At the Peace and Unity Camp, the kids get to experience peaceful activities such as gardening, yoga or cooking, and then they do it together. They’re forming a sense of unification.” 

Ham has been working with Unbound Stockton, a nonprofit organization that encourages local students to get more involved in their community and become future leaders, during the academic year as part his service in the #CaliforniansForAll College Corps program. The initiative was launched in partnership with California Volunteers (Office of the Governor) and AmeriCorps to engage college students in service projects in their communities while also providing financial aid to assist with university costs.   

Ham said he was originally drawn to the College Corps program because of the academic award (College Corps funds up to $10,000 in tuition expenses) but also sees the program as a “great experience to work with nonprofits in the area.”  

“Being in College Corps has allowed me to continue giving back to the community and build my leadership skills,” said biological sciences major Vyna Nguyen ’23, who has also been working with Unbound Stockton throughout the academic year. “From this experience, I learned more about the education system and ways we can work together across lines of difference.”   

Phillip Hon ’11, lead founder and executive director of Unbound Stockton and a Pacific alumnus, said partnering with the College Corps fellows has been a rewarding and mutually beneficial experience. 

“We’re so thankful for the College Corps fellows, as well as the experience of partnership through University of Pacific. They’ve leaned into all different areas of this work…and ultimately, they’ve created a long-lasting impact on the students,” Hon said. “We feel like this is a valuable partnership because it also influences our fellows to see the community themselves, to be ingrained in Stockton.”  

“We really appreciate the partnership and collaboration of Unbound Stockton,” said Francine Redada, director of the Pacific College Corps Program. “The Peace and Unity Camp is just one of the examples of their commitment to elementary school students in the community. We’re so grateful that three of our fellows had the opportunity to organize and assist the Unbound staff to provide leadership experiences to camp participants.” 

Unbound Stockton’s Peace and Unity Camp concluded with a final showcase, where students presented plays they’d practiced throughout the week and shared what they learned with their families and community members. Ham said it was rewarding to see how students came to embrace the camp and grow from the experience. 

“Working with the students was pretty chaotic at first, but once you get to know them, they’re actually pretty fun to be around,” Ham said. “Some of the students didn’t want to come to camp because it’s spring break, but after the first day, many wanted to come back and were excited about the camp.”  

Hon said he is eager to continue the partnership between Unbound Stockton and Pacific College Corps.  

“We’re so lucky to be a part of this program and can’t wait to work with and impact more fellows in the future. It’s no coincidence that Unbound Stockton also abbreviates to ‘US.’ This is the collective community, and we’re glad to be a part of it and be able to offer this to our community.”  

In partnership with California Volunteers (Office of the Governor) and AmeriCorps, University of the Pacific’s #CaliforniansForAll College Corps program launched in fall 2022. Pacific’s College Corps will create pathways for 100 students to earn credit and receive up to $10,000 in funding in exchange for a commitment to serve 450 hours in a community service assignment during a full academic year. Are you interested in becoming a College Corps fellow? Visit the program webpage to learn more.  

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