Hero Image

Service Award

The Howard and Judith Peters Aprender Ayudando Spanish Service Award: Learn and serve as you use your Spanish!
Service Award

Nominees and recipients of this award engage in a variety of sustained extracurricular service-oriented activities that require the use of the Spanish language and familiarity with Latinx cultures. Examples may include, but are not necessarily limited to, such activities as:

  • Tutoring students in the Compass Learning tutoring program
  • Tutoring/translating for Spanish-speaking students in the local school system
  • Translation work for any group that serves the Latinx community
  • Cultural programming that educates or enriches the University or local community on issues related to Latinx culture/language
  • Participation/leadership in groups such as LIVE, Spanish Club
  • Mentoring local Latinx youths

The awarded student will receive a certificate and an amount of $500, of which $250 will be gifted to a service organization of their choice. They will be featured in the Aprender Ayudando webpage, and their name will be added to the awardees plaque located at the Department of World Languages and Cultures (Arts and Sciences Building).

2023 Recipients:
Mariah Hykin and Olivia Zetty

Mariah Hykin and Olivia Zetty

“At Valparaiso University, we have developed several programs emphasizing the importance of Spanish-speaking medical providers. One program included a panel of doctors and medical translators that have worked extensively with Spanish-speaking populations providing examples and personal testimony about the importance of Spanish-speaking providers in the United States. In our positions as University Spanish tutors, we created a weekly program in which we teach medical terminology and how to take patient histories in Spanish to undergraduate and graduate students in healthcare-related majors.”  Read Mariah and Olivia’s testimonial

2022: Lucia Otten

“The earth rings with the voices of hundreds of languages, each with their distinct and unique differences. Yet, every language has something in common: they connect humans together through building relationships. I discovered this power of languages while volunteering at Centro Renovación, an elementary school in Costa Rica this past summer. Through tutoring young students during my stay, I grew my Spanish and people skills, along with my belief in the power of relationships.”  Read Lucia’s testimonial

2020: Lucas Delahunty and Krystal Peña

“Anyone who is familiar with Chilean Spanish knows that most people speak quickly and use a lot of slang or “chilenismos.” While this proved to be a challenge throughout my entire semester abroad, as a teacher assistant it was especially challenging since I—at times—did not understand what students were asking or saying, or was unable to translate class concepts into Spanish. At the time, this dilemma was frustrating, but in retrospect it was a humbling experience that taught me the power of learning by helping.” Read Lucas’s testimonial

“My goal as an engineer is to work in Spanish speaking communities and countries and solve the problems that they face and becoming a leader in this field. One of the biggest issues that I’ve noticed is that there’s a lack of representation of minorities and bilingual engineers that could adequately communicate between the customer and reporting back in English. I believe that being a leader in the engineering world as a women and person of color will help bring light the fact that there is a need for more bilingual engineers so that we are able to work globally.” Read Krystal’s testimonial

2019: Cecelia Frankewich

“This past spring break I was fortunate enough to receive the opportunity to go to Costa Rica with the College of Nursing and Health Professions . . . my life and perspective greatly changed during clinicals. The official translators were very nice, and gave me the opportunity to do as much translating for my group as I wanted, and they were there in case I needed guidance. It is very hard to put into words, but the look I got when I saw how excited patients got when I spoke to them in Spanish really just touched me. You hear all the time about how important and live changing service trips can be, but it is a whole other thing to be able and communicate and connect with your patient.” Read Cecelia’s testimonial

2018: Erin Brown

“I learned a great deal from my students and the importance of welcoming the voices that aren’t always heard. As an agent of humanitarian hospitality, I learned to emphasize the importance of opening conversations across borders and building bridges. Studying Spanish has helped me exemplify the importance of multicultural understanding and communication. . . ” Read Erin’s testimonial

2018: Karina Calvillo

“In additional to my job as a tutor I have also spent a few hours a week working with friends and peers in the Valpo community that are not taking a language, but are looking to practice . . . This has been a beautiful additional to my Valpo experience as I have found people on campus who are actively going out of their way to speak and practice and allow me to express a language I typically only use inside the LRC or with close friends.  I am overjoyed when I hear news from those I’ve practiced with about job opportunities in locations such as Uruguay and Mexico.  A good leader creates more leaders, a good tutor creates confident speakers.  I can only hope I am a small step in their journey to confident speaking.” Read Karina’s testimonial

2017: Amanda McCormick 

“The power of language to connect people on a common ground is an amazing and humbling thing.  Although I went [to Chile] to serve others, I felt like I was the most served.  This mutual service and teamwork within the community was a great representation of what it means to be the body of Christ in the world.”

2017: Angelys Torres

“One of my most personal relationships with my Spanish service has been with my work at NPH USA [Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos, Spanish for “Our Little Brothers and Sisters”].  NPH USA is a nonprofit organization that provides housing, education, and healthcare to abandoned, abused or otherwise at risk children in nine countries across the Caribbean and Latin America.”

2016: Caitlin Moore


“Oftentimes, we are afraid to interact with people who are different than us for fear of not finding common ground. In Maritza, I found a friend who is more similar to me than most people I have met in my life.” Read Caitlin’s testimonial

2013: Ashley Halsten

“I have learned that I do not have to travel to another continent to make an impact in the community. Spanish has opened opportunities for me to be able to serve not only abroad, but in my local community …” Read Ashley’s testimonial

2011: Michelle Roy

Read Kat's testimonial

“The more Spanish I know, the easier it is for me to communicate with those I am trying to help, allowing me to form stronger relationships with them. I may have technological knowledge, but without knowing the people in the community, there is no way to implement sustainable solutions.” Read Michelle’s testimonial

2011: Alissa Fiorentino

2009: Alyssa Sheets


“All you need to serve the Hispanic community, or anyone for that matter, is a willing and loving heart. When you realize that no one is too low for you to serve, and no one is too lost for you to love, you can reach and connect with so many different people.” Read Alyssa’s testimonial

2009: Stephanie Wood


“I now understand how students who speak little or no English might feel when they set foot in classrooms where they are expected to be able to communicate with the teacher and other students but struggle to be able to do so. Because I have now also experienced this sensation, as a teacher I will be able to make my classroom a welcoming place for students who may experience this struggle, just as the students at the school in Nicaragua welcomed me.” Read Stephanie’s testimonial

2008: Rachelle Ewig


“I knew that these children would stay with me forever. My room is filled with their pictures and my heart is filled with their love. They have taught me that my service does make a difference, even if it was only for two months. I impacted those children and they have forever impacted me.” Read Rachelle’s testimonial

2008: Angeles Velasco

2006: Kat Peters


“When people are able to learn about communities in other countries, and when they learn Spanish and meet their neighbors, everyone benefits and incredible relationships are built that can change lives in very real ways.” Read Kat’s testimonial

History of the Award
History of the Award

The Howard and Judith Peters Aprender Ayudando Spanish Service Award honors Professor Emerita Peters (pictured above, right), who taught Spanish at Valparaiso University and developed the international service major; Professor Peters has devoted her professional and personal life to using the Spanish language as a means of helping others. The Spanish phrase Aprender ayudando (“to learn by helping”) reflects the University’s belief that education and service to society are inextricably linked. With this award, we honor these ideals and publicly recognize those students who have taken them to heart by using their study of the Spanish language and its associated cultures in the service of humanity.