Gaskins Connects with Community Through Service
In coordination with the Recognition and Rewards Committee of the ECU Staff Senate, the Pieces of Eight series honoring exceptional ECU staff recognizes Latonya Gaskins.
By Judy Currin
Latonya Gaskins is accustomed to the seemingly constant stream of students who head through the doors of the College of Human Ecology Advising Center, particularly at the beginning of a new semester. Gaskins, an academic adviser for the students enrolled in the School of Social Work and the Department of Criminal Justice, is a soft-spoken, affable young woman who welcomes the opportunity to guide students in their course selections, career paths and volunteer opportunities.
“Students majoring in social work are required to participate in service learning opportunities in the community,” Gaskins said. “Volunteering and networking outside the classroom broadens the diverse paths available to them in their chosen field.”
“If anybody recognizes the value of service to the community, its Latonya Gaskins,” said Shawn Moore, coordinator in the Volunteer and Service Learning Center. “She’s been a beacon of service since she arrived in Greenville in 1999.”
While working toward a master’s degree in Social Work at ECU, Gaskins also worked in ECU’s Career Services office, helping students find internships and jobs. After receiving her degree in 2002, she volunteered for the non-profit organization, Communities in Schools, tutoring and mentoring young girls.
Prior to, and during the early years after joining the College of Human Ecology Advising Center in 2005, Gaskins found time to assist the Family Violence Program, the Eastern Carolina Injury Prevention Program, the TEDI Bear Children’s Advocacy Center, Kids Fest and My Sister’s Closet.
“Volunteering gives me a sense of connection with the community,” she said. “And most of the groups I choose to offer service to focus on preventing child abuse.”
The Nurturing Project, one of the major activities of the Injury Prevention Program, offers parenting programs that teach nurturing skills to parents and children while reinforcing positive family values. Pitt County SAFE KIDS coordinates and conducts events focusing on the proper use of child safety seats, water safety and poison prevention, bicycle safety and burn safety.
Gaskins acknowledges that her service commitments have “slowed down a bit.”
In September she and husband, Kirby welcomed the arrival of their son Xavier.
“I miss being out in the community,” Gaskins said. “After we settle into a comfortable routine with our new addition, I’ll try and ease back into service.”
Meanwhile, Ellen Deters, director of the academic advising center, recognizes Gaskins’ contributions to her workplace and to her community. “We are extremely fortunate to have Latonya in the College of Human Ecology Advising Center. Her energy and enthusiasm are contagious,” she said.
“She inspires all of us to give our best to students, faculty and staff who visit our center.”