GW women's swimming junior Bianca Valencia was named the GW Community Service Student-Athlete of the Month for March.
Valencia has performed over 55 hours of community service this year working with organizations such as the Grassroots Project and Justice for Juniors, and serving as a leader at MLK Day of Service.
"I became involved with the Grassroots Project through the GW Athletics Department. I heard it was a great experience so I wanted to gain my own personal insight and I am extremely glad I did because it was one of my most memorable experiences here," Valencia said. "Justice for Juniors was an opportunity I learned about through the GW Catholics, and because it is an interfaith program centralized around my major, criminal justice, I thought it would be the perfect fit for me. It not only allowed me to make invaluable connections with kids around D.C., but it has also broadened my insight about the reality of the criminal justice system."
Through the Grassroots Project, which seeks to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS by using college student-athletes to educate local middle school students, Valencia was able to form lasting relationships with D.C. youth while teaching them important concepts about the growing epidemic. As a leader for MLK Day of Service she took her group through three different stations where they wrote letters to veterans, created materials for Jumpstart - which leverages adult-child relationships to build key language and literacy skills - and also created prayer flags.
At Justice for Juniors - a program that works with at-risk youth in local group homes to foster academic and faith-based discussions every Sunday morning - Valencia executes academic lesson plans, such as the importance of building character, as well as a faith-based aspects, like reading scripture or singing songs, and discussing how the two relate to one another and how it affects their lives.
Valencia and her GW women's swimming squad are currently fourth out of the Colonials' 23 varsity teams in terms of community service hours completed this year.
"Being a student-athlete isn't only about scoring points for your team, but is also about representing your school and contributing to the greater D.C. community," she said.