College’s partnership with community garners statewide service awards

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April 02, 2012

McDaniel professor Julia Jasken and Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity were honored March 31 by the Maryland-D.C. Campus Compact with two statewide awards for service learning and civic engagement.

Jasken is surely proud that McDaniel garnered, among all independent colleges and universities in Maryland, the Service-Learning Faculty Award and the Excellence in Service Student Group Award. But she says the much more important story is the college’s partnership with the community.

McDaniel Maryland-D.C. Campus Compact award winners are Adela Kuci ’12 of Albania; Douglas Rivera ’12 of Essex, Md.; Gabi Branda ’13 of Laurel, Md.; Alpha Phi Omega advisor and acting assistant Career Services director Jim Mayola, Sara Krome ’12 of Union Bridge, Md.; faculty award winner and English professor Julia Jasken, Becca Wilson ’14 of Frederick, Md.; Mileyni Alvarenga ’14 of Silver Spring, Md., and Maria Mercurio ’14 of Pleasanton, Calif.

“The big story for me is that the community is taking an active role in our students’ educations,” says Jasken, an English professor and pioneer in course design that brings students and community non-profits together in mutually beneficial projects.

Jasken’s “Writing for Non-Profit Organizations” class typically connects students with 14-16 non-profits a semester. Students spend three hours a week at the non-profit helping with social media, videos, special events, grant writing and more.

A senior English major from nearby Union Bridge, Md., Sara Krome connected with some non-profits when she took Jasken’s class, and even more as one of about 60 members of McDaniel’s Alpha Phi Omega (APO) service fraternity. An avid volunteer who logs about 400 hours a year, Krome wrote the application that won APO the award.

“The main focus of the award was to create sustainable partnerships with the community – and that’s exactly what APO members do,” Krome says, counting off APO’s volunteer work every year at Carroll County’s Bear Branch Nature Center, Carroll Arts Center, American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, blood drives and more. “These organizations know they can count on us year after year.”

McDaniel’s partnership with community organizations is a win-win situation, Jasken says.

“All these organizations are serving as mentors for our students, and the students are thrilled with the work they are doing,” Jasken says. “The organizations appreciate the fresh ideas and new perspectives – especially in social media – that our students offer.”

And the students are coming away with something of value.

“After their success at helping non-profits use social media or produce public service announcements, the students think, ‘Maybe I really can get that job,’” Jasken says.

According to Maryland-D.C. Campus Compact, the Service-Learning Faculty Award is “for contributing to the integration of service-learning into the curriculum,” and the Excellence in Service Student Group Award recognizes “students’ commitment and involvement in service projects that extend beyond any co-curricular requirements or service-learning courses. Priority is given to candidates who demonstrate that their project/involvement led to a long-term, sustainable, community impact.”

The MDCCC, according to its website, “is a membership association of college and university presidents and their institutions committed to promoting engaged citizenship as an aim of higher education.  The MDCCC provides statewide leadership in advocating, supporting, and increasing student involvement in academic and co-curricular based public service. It aims to strengthen the capacity of member institutions to serve society; to enhance student learning; and to develop in individual students the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and habits of civic responsibility locally and globally."

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