Salt Lake Community College students have a resource on campus to help them be more civically engaged.
The Thayne Center for Service & Learning at Taylorsville Redwood Campus aims to show students and faculty members that they already have the ability to affect positive change in their community. Working with over 120 different organizations, students have many opportunities to get involved.
“We check in with [the community partners] every year, not only to protect students, but also to make sure that we’re really directing students in a way that’s going to be helpful for their organization, so it’s not just sending volunteers for the sake of sending volunteers or providing a need that isn’t necessary,” says Samantha Collins, Thayne Center community work-study coordinator.
This focused empowerment is produced through a number of programs and resources provided by the Thayne Center.
In the Alternative Break program, students lead service projects relating to important social issues during spring and fall breaks. These issues range from food insecurity, immigration, LGBTQ+ issues and history, homelessness, and animal advocacy.
This spring, there are a couple of free local trips to Salt Lake City and a trip to Kanab, Utah, for just $200. Out-of-state trips offered this year include Portland, Seattle, San Francisco, and San Diego.
“Really, we encourage [students] to pick trips based on issue first, because these issues are existing everywhere and I think that when you go to one of these places, you can learn a lot about the issue. This allows students to bring a comparative lens back to Salt Lake City to work on that same issue here,” Collins says.
The upfront low cost to be a part of an Alternative Break covers travel, lodging, and food for the duration of the trip. Space is extremely limited for this spring. There are few spots left for both the local and out-of-state options.
Service-learning enhances your course by providing you with real-world opportunities within the community to work on projects that satisfy course curriculum while addressing community-identified needs.
“With service-learning, you have the chance to apply what you’re learning in the classroom to the community, but also, what you learn through engaging with that community partner will give you a real-world perspective on how things work out in practice versus theory,” Collins says. “If you’re in an English class and you’re able to work on a technical writing project with a community partner, that’s going to be really beneficial for the community partner. Also, it will build your skills because you’re not just writing a sample.”
Another opportunity to get involved — and paid — is through community work-study. Perhaps the biggest part of the community work-study at SLCC is the America Reads program. Students eligible for work-study through SLCC Financial Aid can earn awards while helping kids in their community get excited about reading and writing; this is especially beneficial for students looking into a career in teaching.
Student Leaders in Civic Engagement, aka SLiCE, is a student run program that represents community partners and engages in special projects of service. These student leaders represent specific entities that all work together to brainstorm events and service projects.
An upcoming event presented by SLiCE, in association with Utahns Against Hunger, is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) free enrollment clinics. This clinic will be held at the following locations:
- West Valley Campus: Monday, March 5, 4 to 6:30 p.m. in room 125
- Taylorsville Redwood Campus: Tuesday, March 13, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 to 6 p.m. in the Student Center, Den 2
- South City Campus: Wednesday, March 14, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 to 6 p.m. in room 1-06 1H-A.
Melissa Jensen, outreach manager with Utahns Against Hunger, provided more about what these Food Access Workshops mean to SLCC students.
“Over half of college students in the country can’t afford enough food, and we know the risk is higher at community colleges,” she says. “Many SLCC students are balancing school with other obligations, like work and families; they might thinking skipping meals and lacking nutritious food is normal during college years. But every SLCC student should have all the food they need.
“With the Food Access Workshops, we want to help empower these students by giving them all the information they need in one place, so they can get enough to eat and succeed academically.”
SLiCE is currently accepting student leadership applications for the 2018-19 school year.
Contact the Thayne Center staff for more information about any of these community-involved programs.