May 24, 2023

The Franke Honors Civic Leadership Certificate aims to provide coursework opportunities for students to grow their leadership skills, give back to their communities, and improve their ethics.

five people smiling at camera yellow wall background with windows

(L-R) Franke Honors students Daniel Gonzalez, Daniela Lopez, and Gabriela Mangano collaborated with Melissa Brown-Dominguez and Mel Dominguez, the owners of Galeria Mitotera in South Tucson. The students implemented a three-part project to grow the organizations volunteer base and uplift their community outreach.

There are many possibilities for students to level up their leadership abilities within the W.A. Franke Honors College. From our signature mentorship program, Partnerships Through Honors, to service-learning experiences such as Honors Alternative Spring Break, students are encouraged to find ways to grow as leaders within their communities.  

One unique opportunity that is exclusive to the Franke Honors College, is the chance for students to add a line to their resume by earning the Franke Honors Civic Leadership Certificate. To achieve the certificate, students are required to take multiple courses whose subject matter centers on topics like community engagement, ethics, and leadership structures within different institutions. There are two required courses, and one additional course which students have the option to choose. The first, offered in fall 2023, is HNRS 320: Ethical Leadership

The other, offered in the spring, is HNRS 335: Leadership: Building and Nourishing a Community, taught by award-winning Franke Honors Assistant Professor of Practice Nadia Alvarez Mexia, Ph.D. Alvarez Mexia's spring ‘23 class of eight Franke Honors students presented their culminating projects at the beginning of May.  

The students were placed into three groups, and over the course of the semester, they collaborated with and created strategic marketing plans for local and non-profit organizations. The partners that the students worked with throughout spring semester were Galeria Mitotera, The YWCA of Southern Arizona, and the Sonoran Center for Excellence in Disability at the University of Arizona. 

Service-learning coursework is a fundamental component of Franke Honors academics. Rather than coming up with a hypothetical plan for a fictional organization, HNRS 335 gives students the opportunity to work alongside local community leaders to create realistic solutions and plans that can actually be implemented.  

One of the best things about HNRS 335? The community has been seeing the results.  

Learning to Lead, Through Service 

Galeria Mitotera is a Latinx/Queer owned gallery located in the City of South Tucson, Arizona. They operate as both an art gallery and a gift shop, and their overarching mission is to uplift South Tucson using outreach and mentorship, and through creating a sense of belonging for community members.  

three people smiling one holding a newsletter blue sky green tree background

“Working with [Galeria Mitotera] was pivotal,” said Franke Honors student Daniel Gonzalez. “I learned so much about Tucson and the importance of leading through service.” 

In volunteering with Galeria Mitotera, Franke Honors students Daniela Lopez, Gabriella Mangano, and Daniel Gonzalez created a plan to grow the organizations’ volunteer base and improve their newsletter. Their work also included attending weekly events to engage with the community in South Tucson. 

Mel “Melo” Dominguez is one of the owners of Galeria Mitotera, as well as an artist and activist. He attended the students’ final presentations for HNRS 335 to congratulate and thank them for the work they had done. Dominguez stopped in at the Franke Honors College before heading out to finish a mural.  

“It’s nice to know that someone has been listening,” Dominguez remarked. “These students have been so helpful to us.” 

‘It takes a village’ 

Part of what cultivates leadership is continuing to go outside of one's comfort zone. Franke Honors students Justin Begay and Carlos Castellanos-Mendoza worked closely with the Sonoran Center for Excellence in Disability to create a robust social media marketing plan that they could execute. Neither Begay nor Mendoza have backgrounds in marketing—Begay studies Psychology & Sociology and Castellanos-Mendoza is majoring in Information Sciences. Despite their differing disciplines, they pushed themselves into new territory to create an effective social media plan for the Sonoran Center, to better communicate the mission of the organization and recruit students for their internship programs. 

Both students also designed a poster about their project and presented the results during the Sonoran Center for Excellence in Disabilities’ Annual Trainee Symposium 2023 where other students presented their research and community projects centered around disability issues.

Through HNRS 335, students have also learned that growth in leadership capabilities doesn’t necessarily equate to success. Being a leader looks like continuing forward despite experiencing setbacks and celebrating the small wins along the way.  

YWCA Advertisement text on orange background with woman smiling

Ethan Alcock, Lenox Baloglou, and Mariah Mercer, the students that partnered with the YWCA of Southern Arizona, did just that. Their marketing plan for the YWCA was to increase advertising efforts through a campus wide TV display campaign. However, during the outreach process, the students were met with challenges, and only managed to get two confirmations for use of the TV displays on campus despite multiple follow-ups—their target number was twelve. 

“We were originally in no places on the University of Arizona campus prior to this student project,” said Lara Ruggles, Director of Development & Marketing at the YWCA, who was also in attendance during the student presentations. “Now we are in two. That’s a win for us.” 

Those who are looking to earn the Franke Honors Civic Leadership Certificate can get started this fall, by taking HNRS 320: Ethical Leadership, taught by Franke Honors Assistant Professor of Practice, Trevor Hedberg. HNRS 320 will provide students with an understanding of what it means to act ethically and give them a foundation for moral reasoning.  

“Being a good leader isn’t about telling someone what to do. It’s about the importance of collaborating and serving. And it can’t just be one person, it takes a village.” - Gabriella Mangano, HNRS 335 student

Learn more about the Franke Honors Civic Leadership Certificate or sign up for HNRS 320: Ethical Leadership