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Honors in Community Engagement

Download the Honors in Community Engagement Application (PDF)

Purpose of this program:  The purpose of this program is two-fold:

1. Encourage, support and recognize medical students who work extensively with medically underserved, marginalized and vulnerable populations during their medical school careers.

a. MCW is committed to improving health through community engagement.  Many students participate in service learning and volunteer service through Scholarly Pathways and their student organizations.  The purpose of this Honors distinction is to support and recognize sustained commitment, excellence and impact over and beyond usual expectations.

2. Improve community health and reduce health disparities, with an emphasis on health priorities outlined in the Healthy People 2020 and Healthiest Wisconsin 2020 health plans, through the development, implementation and evaluation of evidence-based population oriented health interventions.

a. Students distinguish themselves by assuming significant responsibility in the collaborative planning, implementation, evaluation and dissemination of a focused, sustainable community health initiative.

Program Eligibility:  Students submit their Honors in Community Engagement proposal prior to starting work on their honors thesis project.  Criteria for consideration include:

1) Academic Standing: Student must be in good academic standing to participate in the Honors in Community Engagement (HCE) program
2) Prior to Application:  Student must demonstrate a sustained commitment to community engagement, service and leadership during the first 3 semesters of medical school, exceeding minimum expectations, and including both:

a) Preparation/ Formal Coursework (e.g. outstanding performance in Urban and Community Health (UCH) or Global Health (GH) pathway, or approved alternative)
b) Community-engagement through service learning activities (e.g. through pathways and/or summer experiences) beyond the minimum course requirement, and that results in a measureable product (e.g. new partnership, pilot data, community impact).  To be eligible for the HCE program, the student must provide evidence of progress toward a completion of a relevant scholarly project that will meet MCW graduation requirements, including (at minimum) a submitted and approved Scholarly Project Proposal.

3) Application Requirements:

a) Personal Statement: Outlining accomplishments to-date, personal goals and commitment to community-engaged scholarship.  Accomplishments must include submission and approval of a scholarly project proposal that will meet graduation requirements, distinct from the Honors Proposal project.  Progress toward completion of that project (e.g. pilot data, summer research) and anticipated or actual results must be included in the application.
b) Community-Engaged Honors Project Proposal:  Consistent with the Scholarly Project Proposal format, including background and significance of work, clear goals, appropriate methods, anticipated results and planned presentation format(s). In addition, the project must include a plan for involving the community throughout the process.  The project must be guided by principles of community-engaged scholarship (See Table).  This Honors project may build upon the required scholarly project, but must extend the work beyond that of the required scholarly project.
c) Learning/ Mentorship Plan:  In addition, the student must provide an Individual Learning Plan that includes a commitment to dedicate time during and/or beyond the third year to relevant educational activities, leadership and community service activities.  The plan should include:

i) Formal Coursework/educational enrichment activities – may include:

(1) Sustained commitment to the UCH or GH pathway (e.g. all 3 years); and/or
(2) Enrollment in an M3 or M4 Honors elective

ii) Service Learning:  can include community-engaged research or community health initiative, but must be supervised by an MCW faculty mentor and community partner.
iii) Community service: volunteer service (e.g. through student organizations.) is encouraged, but is insufficient without evidence of meaningful community engagement and scholarship. 

d) Letters of support from Faculty Mentor and Community Partner: Outlining support for the project and willingness to support the student through the project completion, and attestation that 1) the student has made significant accomplishments to-date consistent with the HCE goals; 2) the student is taking a primary lead role on the project in collaboration with the community partner, and 3) the project adheres to community-engaged scholarship principles. See:



4) Approval of the Honors in Community Engagement Application:  Applications to the HCE program will be reviewed by the Honors Committee.  Students whose applications are not approved may have the opportunity to revise and resubmit their application once for reconsideration based upon the committee’s recommendations.  
5) Successful Completion of the Honors in Community Engagement to be Awarded at Graduation:

a) Evidence of commitment to the area of distinction as demonstrated by extended time involvement and effort in the area consistent with the plan outlined in the approved Application.
b) An Honor’s Thesis that is reviewed and approved by the Honors committee.  The thesis must demonstrate:

a. Adherence to Principles of Community Engagement
b. Originality – All work must be original and have been produced since the start of medical school.
c. Evidence of leadership, innovation, creativity – the student must have a primary lead role
d. Quantity – The body of work should be substantive and represent a significant commitment of time and intellectual energy.
e. Evidence of sustained impact – The product developed must be sustainable or have meaningful impact beyond the presentation.
f. Quality - High quality/scientific rigor as determined by a committee with expertise in the area of study.
g. Contribution to the pathway or institutional engagement activities – e.g. new partnership, service learning opportunities, educational product that will be sustained upon the students’ graduation

c) Community Partner evaluation and recommendation must provide testimony that student contributed to health of clients, responded to community-identified need, and demonstrated dedication and respect for community.

Contact Us

Pathways staff are located in the Academic Affairs Office, Suite M3215.

General Inquiries

Pathways Team Lead
Physician Scientist

  Clinical & Translational Research
  Molecular & Cellular Research
Meaghan Hayes, MEd

Global Health,
Health Systems Management & Policy

Urban & Community Health
Hilary Chavez, MS

Clinician Educator,
Quality Improvement & Patient Safety

Jen Kraus