Top Tier award winner defers to team on fostering community partnerships

By Anthony Cave

For Rian Satterwhite, an individual award is “weird.”

Satterwhite is the Director of the Office of Service Learning & Leadership at UNLV. He recently received an award for his work on community partnerships as part of Top Tier 2.0, the university’s multi-faceted strategic plan that encompasses several core areas, including student achievement and social justice. 

“It’s a team award,” Satterwhite said.

Between leadership transitions and staff openings in his office, Satterwhite’s job description runs the gamut from writing grants to make sure students have the basic necessities needed to succeed – more than $5 million in grants submitted in the last year, he notes –  to service-learning, leadership development, and community engagement.

“I had never written a grant before last year,” he said. 

Satterwhite’s current passion project is soliciting funding for a basic needs pantry. During the previous fall semester, a survey was distributed to all students to learn more about their experience with food and housing insecurity, amongst other basic needs. 

Some students have to decide between buying textbooks or feeding themselves. For others, the financial challenges are even more daunting. 

“For some, they’re the primary income for their family and are juggling multiple jobs while attending school. Students at UNLV are managing a lot right now,” Satterwhite said. 

Award aside, his office of seven continues to work toward making the basic needs pantry and other community partnership initiatives a reality. 

“It’s weird for me, nothing I do in the office is done without the team,” he said. 

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