News Release: Student Life

Sep. 8,  2008

Sophomores Serve and Learn

News Article ImageWe want students to use this experience as a springboard to more extensive service learning opportunities, says Dean for Campus Life John Ford of the Sophomores Serve event Aug. 30.

From Emory Report 

As the school year kicked off, Emory second-year students rolled up their sleeves to help communities in need through Sophomores Serve, a new pilot program Campus Life launched as part of Second Year at Emory. About 80 Emory students volunteered Aug. 30 at four community projects, ranging from an after-school program in northwest Atlanta to a nature center in the West Atlanta Watershed.

At the Outdoor Activity Center, a 26-acre nature facility located just a few miles from downtown, students helped construct a community garden while learning about the benefits of preserving the natural habitat. They also created an outdoor classroom within the park and assisted in rebuilding hiking and biking trails to be used by visitors of all ages.

Students passionate about the outdoors assisted with the clean-up of Spink Collins Park in the Riverside neighborhood through Park Pride, clearing undergrowth and mulching trees to protect them from drought damage. Other Emory students volunteered to brainstorm fundraising ideas for Environmental Community Action and to re-organize an after-school haven for youth at the AGAPE Community Center.

“We want students to use this experience as a springboard to more extensive service learning opportunities," says John Ford, senior vice president and dean for Campus Life. "We hope that students will take away from this experience a feeling of community cohesiveness around the need to serve others."

Ford says the emphasis on community service and civic engagement is perfectly aligned with Emory's vision statement. "We intend to have an exemplary learning community where students are experientially prepared to become ethical leaders and global citizens," he says.

Emory students have a history of donating their time and energy to community causes. Nearly 90 percent of graduating seniors have volunteered in the local community. Eight out of 10 Emory undergraduates participate in community building and service activities, according to the 2006 National Survey of Student Engagement.

"More and more students are coming to Emory because they know it's a place where campus and community are connected," says Sam Marie Engle, senior associate director of Emory's Office of University-Community Partnerships, which partnered with Campus Life to identify and coordinate the project activities.

The local nonprofit organizations were selected based on their commitment to issues surrounding the environment and sustainability, as well as children and youth.

Funding for Sophomores Serve, as well as the Service for Learning program in OUCP, comes from The Coca-Cola Foundation, which recently pledged $3 million to Emory over the next five years to provide scholarships, fellowships and support for sustainability projects in Atlanta neighborhoods.

The Sustainable Partnerships for Atlanta Neighborhoods project, a new initiative of OUCP, will receive a $1 million gift from the foundation. SPAN supports innovative approaches to addressing local environmental challenges, including air pollution, energy conservation and green building strategies.

As the school year continues, Campus Life plans to partner with Volunteer Emory and OUCP to offer additional volunteer opportunities.

"We hope students get a taste for community service through this endeavor," says Engle, "and the program will kick-start a yearlong effort."

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