Salt Lake Community College hosted the Community Engagement Fair across several campuses from Aug. 21 through Sept. 9.
The fair introduces SLCC students and staff to college’s diverse partner organizations. The event is organized by the Thayne Center for Service & Learning, a department that focuses heavily on promoting student engagement within the community.
Some community partners present at this year’s fair include the Natural History Museum of Utah, Youthlinc and the United Way of Salt Lake.
“[The Thayne Center] has relationships with over one hundred community partners,” says the center’s community partnerships coordinator, Rebecca Van Maren. “There are a lot of ways that a student can create change within the community.”
The Thayne Center aims to help students integrate their classwork with time spent volunteering through service-learning classes. SLCC students can enroll in a variety of different service-learning courses, varying between areas such as art, business, and education.
By participating in opportunities provided by the Thayne Center, students who want to engage with the community have the resources to do so.
“Everyone is just super welcoming,” says Talon Garner, an SLCC student and sustainability lead with Student Leaders in Civic Engagement, or SLICE. “It is really helpful to work with people who are both educated about the community and really want to make a difference.”
Promoting and encouraging acts of civic engagement can strengthen the community at large. By taking part in these activities, students can make personal connections and increase their awareness of important social issues.
In addition to the impact students can make on their community, there are underlying individual benefits of being part of a social cause.
“Having a community can be life-saving,” says Brandon Devlin, the volunteer and community resource manager at the Utah Pride Center. “Being able to talk with other people who have gone through the same experiences that you have can really help you make sense of what you’re feeling and what you’re going through.”
The Thayne Center will organize its next Community Engagement Fair in January 2020.
Additional photos by Ashley Stenger