What the EC Scholars program has taught me about service

Friday, August 20, 2010, at approximately 1:30 p.m., I, strolled down 10th Street with 10 other students towards the Real Crisis Intervention Center. This short walk may not seem significant to an outsider, but for us, it was the beginning of a new part of our lives. We were embarking on a journey that in some sense we had been preparing for over the past 12 years– college. But not only were we college students, we were also EC Scholars. Keep in mind, this was mere hours after our parents had left us in the unfamiliar residence hall and the 11 of us had only met about an hour before this walk took place. Interestingly enough, the activity that was planned for us was service work. Our first real interaction with one another as independent college students was a service project!  What an awesome message to instill in students.

East Carolina University encourages students to take part in the Greenville community in many ways. Part of ECU’s mission statement explains that the university’s goal is to positively impact eastern North Carolina by training students and sending them back into the community. The fact that a service project was the first activity that I participated in as an ECU student really put into perspective what would be expected of me as an EC Scholar. It set the standard very high and it showed us the community is as much a part of learning as the classroom.

In fact, the 11 freshman EC Scholars also participated in service learning at Golden Living, an assisted living home close to Brody School of Medicine. Over the course of the semester, we met with one resident for a total of about 18 hours in order to learn from these senior citizens. Not only were these meetings powerful lessons about relationships, but they taught us all something about ourselves.  We also were able to compare our lives to the ones they have led and see how different life was when they were our age. It also showed us how much of an impact we could have on one individual’s life.

ECU has offered me, personally, many opportunities to excel as an individual. But more importantly, it has instilled within me, and I believe many of my peers, the idea that we are indebted to our community and to all those who live in it. I have learned that being a student at East Carolina University is about so much more than going to class. It’s what we do with the minds that ECU is shaping and developing that really matters.

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