A Semester of Service
Honors College students take on service, philanthropy projects
The freshmen in East Carolina University’s Honors College were on campus for fewer than 24 hours this fall before they were loaded on buses and dispatched to various nonprofit organizations across Pitt County.
For three hours on Aug. 16, more than 100 students pulled weeds and mopped floors, picked up trash, entertained elderly residents and children and led science demonstrations. And that was only a preview of the service projects to come.
Throughout this semester, approximately 200 freshmen and junior students in the Honors College at ECU will be partnered as teams with 18 nonprofit organizations. A freshman service project has been a part of Honors College life for three years now, but this new initiative marks an expansion of that effort.
“(Service) is something that is core to our mission and values,” said Kevin Baxter, associate dean of the Honors College. “And our students are enthusiastic about it.
“Because they’re all here on scholarship, they are inclined to pay it forward. We know from the past that our students want to have lasting community impact.”
The two classes have different assignments. Freshmen will propose, plan and carry out a specific service project at their assigned site. They’ll be working in teams of six or seven, and the teams were allowed to select the sites they were most interested in during Honors College orientation.
The junior students will have two roles: designing and executing a fundraising effort for their assigned nonprofit and mentoring their first-year peers. Each team will have $1,000 to start with, provided by a grant from the BB&T Leadership Foundation.
(Video by Cliff Hollis)
“Rolling up your sleeves and getting dirty has its place,” Baxter said. “But (the importance of) mobilizing a community to give financial support…is overlooked quite often. You can’t just pop in for a day to help with fundraising.”
Administrators want students to think of service in terms of “time, talent and treasure,” he said.
This will be the second year that junior Honors College students were involved in philanthropy, but the task of helping lead the freshmen adds a new benefit to the projects.
“We’re having them do all of this within a team environment,” he added. “It gives them a mechanism for exploring team dynamics and leadership.”
The combined teams are responsible for submitting project and grant proposals for approval by Sept. 19. They’ll then be hard at work until early November, with projects culminating in a video documenting their work and a paper due on the last day of class.