HAYS,Kan. -- "Serve 2 Succeed," a new course offered by Fort Hays State University's Department of Leadership Studies through the Service-Learning Fellows program, is pushing service learning to a higher level, and students are finding ways to make a difference in their communities.
AmeriCorps offered a grant to FHSU to fund the course through the Kansas Campus Compact. Kansas Campus Compact funds and facilitates service learning and civic engagement in higher education. The grant request was a way to mix service learning with freshman retention.
The course is designed as an academic component to the FHSU Student Service Learning Fellows program, which brings together sophomore and freshman students in a mentoring relationship. Mentors and mentees build their individual strengths and academic success resources and develop meaningful relationships. Throughout the year, sophomore students in the course advise freshmen in service learning and in academics.
The course is intended to guide and inspire students to increase their commitment to a lifetime of civic engagement by taking actions that will make a lasting improvement to their community and enrich their personal and academic life.
Here is what some of the students had to say.
"Service learning is participating in service that connects community service projects to your in-class learning," said Tella Whitaker, Sublette sophomore. "I hope to become a better leader and public servant through this program."
"By service learning, I would like to help build strong leaders of tomorrow,"said Gustavo Reyes, Garden City sophomore. "My hope is that these leaders will continue to help people and create more leaders wherever they go. I think everyone needs a little help at this point in their lives. My role as a mentor is to guide students through their first year of college. We study together, get involved together and try to make a difference in the community."
"I think the best way to appreciate all our community does for us and the people around us is by doing service projects," said Gabriel Garay, Topeka freshman. "I want to be involved and to interact with as many people as possible. I want to listen to what they have to say and learn about them and myself."
"I was interested in the program because it would provide me with the opportunity to better myself so I could better my community," said Jose Garcia, Dodge City freshman. "In the past, I pondered possible ways that I could provide services to people in need or find solutions to problems in communities. I often became discouraged or uninterested because I never had the right tools and methods to do them. The class will give me the tools I need to provide service to my community."
"I think this program will help me throughout college in many ways," said Daniela Duron, Wichita freshman. "Being in the Serve to Succeed program is a great way to gain leadership skills and get involved on campus and in the community. I hope to do many projects that help the community and put a smile on many people's faces."
"Through this experience, I will gain a better sense of appreciation for everything I have," said Michelle Ramos-Carreno, Newton freshman. "I also hope to learn more ways that I can do things to make a change in the community. I find volunteering extremely important, not only for the community but myself as well. Pursuing a degree in the medical field, I find it is the doctor's job to help the patient out. As a student and citizen,I feel it is my job to also help people out in the community."
"I have learned that there is always an opportunity to help people," said Emma Blachet, Hays sophomore. "Not only do I gain leadership skills from this program, but I learn more about myself and how important service is. Service-learning is important because it makes you see the world differently. Everyone needs help at some point in their lives, and to be one person who is able to help them is so fulfilling. Being involved this way will help give me the necessary leadership skills for the future and make my community a better place to be."
The schedule of service learning projects the class will participate in:
March 15 to 17: Kansas Special Olympic Basketball and Cheerleading.
March 20: Topeka Rescue Mission.
March 18 to 19 and March 21 to 25: Options Domestic and Sexual Violence Services Inc., a grass-roots organization providing victim services for women and children who are working to escape domestic violence situations.
April 22: Mary Elizabeth Maternity House.
May 2: The Big Event, a community-wide day of service for FHSU students, faculty and staff to say "thanks" to the community of Hays.
For more information on the Serve 2 Succeed program, visit their website at www.fhsu.edu/S2S/.