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At a reception this week, seven teams of exceptional students were recognized for the work they’ve accomplished through Experiential Projects to Impact the Community (EPIC) Grants. Since 2020 these students have worked with TCU faculty/staff and several partner organizations on service projects that have benefited TCU’s campus and the Fort Worth Community. The Pre-Health Professions Institute hosted this reception to celebrate the end of each project, share the amazing service efforts, thank the community partners, TCU mentors, and each student involved. 

The objective of EPIC Grants is to foster a culture of giving, strengthen communities, and provide students with opportunities to develop cultural humility, leadership, and teamwork skills. EPIC grants provide up to $1,500 to support a student-led project in which recipients will work with a team of other students and in close collaboration with representatives from TCU’s Office of Community Engagement, TCU mentor, and a community partner to complete their project. Examples of student projects include founding a mentoring or school enrichment program, establishing a support group, and creating a health awareness campaign or healthy lifestyle program. All project teams will need a community partner to be the main point of contact to the group they are serving and a TCU mentor to help support project.

Jessica Standifer, academic program specialist for the Pre-Health Professions Institute, says that in addition to the benefits of meeting a need in the community and elevating TCU’s philanthropic reputation, the program indirectly provides students with experiences that include a high level of project management, communication, and teamwork. “Most of these are first-time experiences for students. They face challenges, issues, and modifications. They must adapt within their circumstances and/or situations that occur throughout the life of their projects. These experiences have helped students reframe their thinking by working with others to create solutions, utilize TCU and Fort Worth resources, and build awareness of the needs people face in the community” Standifer says.

Senior biology major, Annemarie Thompson, founded Crafts & Conversations through her EPIC Grant. Its objective is to connect students with seniors at Trinity Terrace, a Fort Worth retirement community, through fun crafting projects and conversation. Thompson says, “While a plethora of issues have been exposed by the pandemic, I was struck by the problem of social isolation within retirement communities. My grandfather lived his final years in a retirement community where he struggled with loneliness. Due to safety restrictions that have limited outside visitors, loneliness and depression have only been exacerbated.” 

Robert Molina, another EPIC Grant recipient, is pursuing a B.S. in biology. He created the Junior STEM Scholar Mentoring Program that is partnered with two local high schools in the surrounding DFW area with a goal to support underrepresented demographics that are interested in pursuing a degree within the avenues of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Molina says, “I cannot tell you how rewarding it is to see the students break out of their shells and become more passionate about STEM and college in general. A lot of the students that are a part of the program are first-generation like me, and so I see a part of myself in them. When I was in high school, I would've loved an opportunity like this but never found one. It's my hope that the mentors and I can continue to be just but a fraction in their bright academic futures. It is truly a humbling experience to be able to give back to a community that has done so much for me as well as help mentor and empower the next generation of Latino/a and Black doctors, engineers, mathematicians, and scientists.” 

Learn more about TCU’s Pre-Health Professions Institute EPIC Grants.