Students learn through public service
April 25, 2012
By Crystal Baity
ECU News Services
East Carolina University leaders celebrated a new model for student learning and public service April 25 by recognizing Student Engagement and Outreach Scholars Academy participants.
ECU’s program is believed to be the first of its kind and a national model in pairing graduate students, undergraduate East Carolina Scholars and faculty mentors across disciplines at ECU to work with community partners on a semester-long, spring project, said Beth Velde, academy coordinator and director of public service and community relations at ECU.
Ten teams were honored Wednesday in a ceremony at Willis Building Auditorium.
Seeing the value
Hannah Potter, an international studies and religious studies Honors College student from Marshville, said she enjoyed experiencing research, especially a type that could have an immediate impact on the community. She worked with Samantha Fuerderer of Greenville, a graduate student in School of Communication, at the Building Hope Community Life Center in Greenville.
“Before I became involved in the Student Engagement and Outreach Scholars Academy, I never realized how involved my university is with the community,” Fuerderer said. “Working with a local organization enabled me to see firsthand the value of forming outreach partnerships.”
The center is a faith-based organization designed to help at-risk youth from local schools stay on track academically while giving them social and spiritual support. The ECU team, with faculty mentor Dr. Robbie Quinn in the College of Fine Arts & Communication, sought to address whether the involvement of students in weekly art activities influenced their resilience traits, or traits that help students overcome changes or hardships.
While the research work has ended, Quinn and undergraduate art students will be working with the center to design and paint a mural this summer.
In some instances, the ECU teams included people from different departments, which Dr. Deirdre Mageean, vice chancellor of research and graduate studies, described as a “rare, interesting mix.”
Velde partnered with Dr. Katie O’Connor, director of EC Scholars, to develop the project, which builds on an existing student outreach academy that started in 2009.
Chancellor Steve Ballard congratulated the scholars on the difference they’re making in their communities.
“This is at the heart of ECU,” he said. He challenged participants to spread the word about the good work that is being done to highlight the university’s role in public service and to help stem cynicism about investing in education.
“There is nothing more important than having an impact on our communities, region and state,” he said. “We are making a difference for people.”
The project name, faculty member, graduate student(s), and undergraduate student team members are: