On May 7, 2010 twenty-six students will graduate from Salt Lake Community College as Civically Engaged Scholars. Each one will have completed 200 hours of community service at SLCC or in the surrounding communities. The Civically Engaged Scholar program is done though SLCC’s Thayne Center for Service and Learning.
“The Thayne Center has all these amazing service opporunities that students can get involved with. I don’t know how people can graduate through SLCC without learning about these wonderful opportunities,” said Melissa Gutierrez, who’s major is Early Childhood Education.
“We have found that employers and universities, if they [students] are transferring or going straight to the job market, people don’t ask ‘if you have done community service?’ or ‘if you have been involved in the community?’ At this point, people are asking ‘what is it that you have done?’ It is an assumption that you will have been involved in extracurricular actives,” said Gail Jessen, Director of the Thayne Center.
There are two options for the students going into the Civically Engaged Scholar program, Academic Service-Learning or Community Building. Academic Service-Learning student must complete a total of 150 hours of community service. They must also take six credits of service-learning courses in any discipline, among other thing.
“I wanted to challenged myself to be more civically engaged despite the busy coursework. I love to help and serve others. I think it is very meaningful to spend time in volunteerism, because I discovered a lot of things that normal people will not pay attention to,” said George Kenneth Tan, Health Science major.
The Community Building option was made for students whose major might not have many service-learning courses. These students must complete a total of 200 hours of community service. However, they take only three credits of service learning courses.
“The Community Building option means you are doing less academic service-learning courses, and more volunteer hours in the community,” said Jessen.
“I thought it would be a great opportunity, and I wanted to make a difference in my community,” said Valerie LaDonna Martin, who is graduating with a Business AS.
The program has been around for over ten years; however, this year they have more graduates than ever before. These twenty-six students will be seated in the front row at commencement on Friday, wearing royal blue cords. They will be graduating with three stars; their achievement will be put on their transcripts as well.
“It is very interesting though, very few thing go on your transcripts besides your grades, this will go on their transcripts,” said Linnie Spor, Service Leadership Coordinator for the Thayne Center.
These students have had to keep a minimum 3.00 GPA. Jessen and Spor have found that many of the students in the program do much better than a 3.00 GPA. Any student can become a Civically Engaged Scholar. There is no cap on the number of student who can be in the program. Students must meet the requirements, which include tuning in a monthly reflection journal, taking POLS 2900 and creating an e-portfolio.
On Friday, April 30, 2010 the Thayne Center the there end of year brunch. Student told their stories of volunteering. The Civically Engaged Scholars were presented with their royal blue cords.