That smiling face on the Angel Stadium scoreboard Sept. 20 was Chapman University’s Victoria Carty, Ph.D., an associate professor of sociology in the Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.

Carty was honored before the game as a Wells Fargo Home Run Hero for her work with Higher Ground, an Anaheim nonprofit that provides mentoring for youth and their families in at-risk communities.

Wells Fargo donated $2,500 to Higher Ground in Carty’s honor. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and Wells Fargo team up throughout the season on the program, which recognizes standout volunteers and contributes funding to the organizations where they lend a hand.

“The evening turned out to be a wonderful event. The Angels provided us with 20 tickets so several Higher Ground kids and their parents could attend,” said Carty, who has overseen dozens of internships and independent-study opportunities by Chapman students serving as mentors at the Higher Ground facility. She also has taught two experimental courses that incorporated service learning, during which Chapman students work with Higher Ground youth on a group project.

Victoria Carty, left, with Wells Fargo representatives Alex Vargas and Gilbert Vargas, Higher Ground founder Joe Baldo, volunteer mentor Caliph Bey Sr. and his son, Caliph Bey Jr.

Other Chapman University efforts with Higher Ground have included a Dodge College of Film and Media Arts course in which Chapman students helped youngsters film and edit their own show.

Carty’s service, in addition to guiding mentors and helping write grants for Higher Ground, has included hosting workshops on the Chapman campus for the students, their older siblings and parents.

“We do fun activities for the kids such as scavenger hunts or a tour of the film school while administrators, professors and students (as well as recent graduates) hold a workshop on the importance of post-secondary education, how to apply, financial aid opportunities, etc.,” Carty said. “We have also held workshops at Higher Ground that address local issues that are relevant to the participants, including immigration reform, the ‘Know your Rights’ campaign, and the Mendez v. Westminster case.”

Fun is usually part of the equation, and the Higher Ground participants who attended the Angels game got an extra thrill: They were taken in to see the indoor batting cage near the clubhouse, where they watched Angels stars Mike Trout and Albert Pujols take some extra swings and were able to take photos.

“They were absolutely thrilled,” Carty said.

Display image at top: Chapman professor Victoria Carty pictured on the scoreboard at Angel Stadium. (Courtesy of Los Angeles Angels)