Union's Loya earns national award
SCHENECTADY Hours before the Union women’s basketball team took on RIT on Tuesday, senior captain Amy Loya was credited with a big assist.
For her community service and volunteerism, the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association named Loya to the 2014 WBCA Good Works Team. Only 10 athletes make the team, five from the Division I women’s teams, five from the combined pool of teams in Division II, Division III and the NAIA.
Loya and the nine other athletes will be honored on the court at the Women’s Final Four in Nashville. She said she is glad to be part of a group being recognized for something other than on-court statistics.
“It’s really cool to be part of a such a group of kids that has something that’s not just a win or a loss or points,” Loya said. “They have time to give back in addition to all they do on the court and in the classroom.”
While maintaining a 3.18 cumulative GPA and serving as a captain for the women’s basketball team, Loya also finds enough hours in her days to touch serve on committees, volunteer for non-profit organizations and help other people as often as possible.
She volunteers for Best Buddies, a non-profit helping people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, creating opportunities for friendships, integrated employment and leadership development. She has been the president for the Union College Best Buddies group since her sophomore year and was the President of the Year for Upstate New York last year.
“Amy’s been so active in our program for four years, and even before she got to Union, I know she was very active in community service,” Union coach Mary Ellen Burt said. “She just made everybody on our team better. She got everybody involved, especially with the Best Buddies program.”
Loya’s volunteerism has extended to Habitat for Humanity, Toys for Tots and helping in the cleanup effort in Scotia after Hurricane Irene.
Her community involvement traces back to when she and her parents began working with the Midnight Run Program, which collects food and clothes for homeless and the less-fortunate, then visits these people to distribute the collections.
“They really stressed people first and helping people less fortunate than us,” she said of her parents. “It began at a really young age and I broke a lot of stereotype barriers when it came to doing Midnight Run, which is a program we did as a family, going into the city and helping the homeless. Things like that. So it was almost innate, it was in my nature to continue this throughout college.”
Her participation in the community is not limited to the world outside Union College. She also works to make her school better, to make the experience there more fruitful for the students who come after her.
She has served as an orientation advisor to help freshmen acclimate to life at Union, and this year was nominated to the orientation committee that selects advisors and works with the Dean of First-Year Students throughout the year, helping plan the orientation schedule. She was recommended by faculty to serve on the Committee for Awarding Tenure to Professors. She is president of the Biomedical Engineering Chapter at Union and one of just two students on the Bioengineering Advisory Committee.
She also was named to the Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Honor Society and was the 2012 and 2013 recipient of the Union women’s basketball team’s William Lockyer Community Service Award.
Loya said working as a student counselor this summer for the EDGE Camp (Educating Girls in Engineering) at Union was probably the most rewarding of her recent activities because it incorporated her personal interest in bioengineering into her volunteerism. The program introduces high school girls to engineering and aims to enhance the learning activities and communication skills.
Now another personal interest will be brought into the mix, as the native of Bethel, Conn., will likely get to root for her favorite Division I program at the Final Four.
“I better get to talk to Geno [Auriemma, UConn coach],” Loya said. “That’s all I’m asking. He better be there. I expect them to be in the Final Four.”