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Western Carolina senior wins Barnhill “Trailblazer” Award

WCU-Aaron_3 Western Carolina University senior Aaron Marshall has been recognized as the 2014 recipient of the John H. Barnhill Civic Trailblazer Award. North Carolina Campus Compact presents the award annually to one college student in the state who has created and led innovative projects that address community needs.

While at Western Carolina, Marshall has developed his passion for serving people in communities hard hit by disasters or chronic poverty, first by working as a volunteer and later in the role of servant leader. Along the way, he combined community service with his academic studies, motivated his peers to join in the work, and created new programs and partnerships that will continue to engage students and impact communities even after he leaves Cullowhee.

“Aaron is one of the most outgoing, forthright, and passionate young leaders I’ve had the privilege of knowing,” Chancellor David Belcher wrote in support of Marshall’s nomination. “He is a difference-maker.”

Since he first traveled on fall break service trip his freshman year, Marshall has become an avid promoter and organizer of the Center for Service Learning’s alternative break program. He became the Center’s first student alternative break coordinator in 2013, helping to double the number of service trips, train new student leaders, and generate more applicants than available slots. Over the past two years, Marshall has led 5 trips involving 60 student volunteers, including a disaster relief trip to New York in the wake of Super Storm Sandy. For that trip, Marshall worked with the Center’s director Dr. Lane Perry to make the experience part of a new credit-bearing service learning course, “Leadership in Civil Society.”

Marshall has also committed himself to active citizenship. Since 2012, he has been involved in civic engagement efforts on campus, including through initiatives associated with North Carolina Campus Compact’s non-partisan Campus Election Engagement Project-NC. For the 2014 effort, Marshall has led the development of an online voter education platform and organized a crew of student volunteers to visit classrooms and conduct voter education and registration drives on campus, resulting in over 300 new voters registered.

Marshall’s service ventures include work as a volunteer and organizer with Team Rubicon, a non-profit disaster response organization that mobilizes military veterans and civilian volunteers on disaster response teams that bridge the gap between first responders and traditional disaster relief organizations. Marshall has worked with the group on more than a dozen deployments.

A Sociology major with a minor in emergency disaster management, Marshall’s service passions have sparked academic explorations. In 2013, Marshall won the university’s Discovery Forum prize for his social entrepreneurship project on the use of technology to mitigate inefficiencies in international aid. He adapted the idea to win a place in the Clinton Global Initiative University, where he developed a plan for the SAPPER project – Southern Appalachia Poverty and Place Effect Research. When implemented, the project will equip military veteran combat engineers with technology to map and assess substandard residential housing, in order to improve the coordination of repair operations.

Marshall was featured this spring in an article in Western Carolina: The Magazine of Western Carolina University- “The Marshall Plan.”

“In all cases, Aaron started at the ground level and came in a first time volunteer,” says Perry. “Then, over time, through service that was above himself he rose to the next occasion and moved up to obtain greater and greater responsibility.”

The Barnhill Award is named for John H. Barnhill, who founded innovative student service programs while a student at Elon University, and who later became the founding executive director of North Carolina Campus Compact.

Marshall will be honored at North Carolina Campus Compact’s annual student conference on November 8 at NC State University in Raleigh. Now in its 21st year, the 2014 conference will convene 180 student leaders from 25 campuses in 5 states, offering participants a slate of workshops focused on leadership best practices and community issues.

North Carolina Campus Compact is a collaborative network of colleges and universities with a shared commitment to educating engaged citizens and strengthening communities. Guided by an executive board of presidents and chancellors, the Compact builds capacity of member schools through professional development and resources related to civic and community engagement. NC Campus Compact was founded in 2002 and is hosted by Elon University.

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Campus Election Engagement Project-NC challenges students to register, vote

CEEP_Checkbox Logo_croppedWith the 2014 midterm elections fast approaching, NC Campus Compact is challenging college students to register and turnout on November 4. Since July, the Compact has been providing resources and training for student leaders and campus groups in our role as statewide facilitator of the Campus Election Engagement Project (CEEP), a nonpartisan national effort to involve college students in elections. Already, the initiative has granted nearly $10,000 to Student Government Associations and other groups to support voter engagement activities on 16 North Carolina campuses. Over 50 individuals from 26 campuses have participated in voter engagement trainings offered by the Compact and its partners.

“Some key changes to North Carolina’s election process – including a shortened early voting period – will go into effect in the 2014 midterms,” said NC Campus Compact Interim Executive Director Leslie Garvin, who directs the voter engagement project. “So part of our goal is to get that information out. But our main mission is simply to encourage students to be active citizens.”

Campus groups have been busy conducting voter outreach and registration drives across the state. Elizabeth City State University outpaced four other campuses in a voter registration contest held on National Voter Registration Day, September 23. ECSU SGA President McKinley Strother led a team of ECSU students who collected 68 voter registration forms, earning the school a $450 prize. Earlier this fall, ECSU’s Student Government Association also received a $300 grant from CEEP.

Historically, voter turnout in midterm elections is low, especially among college-aged youth. Just 23% of North Carolina registered voters aged 18-29 voted in the 2010 midterm elections, according to the Center for Information on Civic Learning and Engagement. This rate was roughly on par with the national average but still 28 points below that for voters over 30.

North Carolina’s voter registration deadline is October 10. The state’s early voting period begins October 23 and ends on November 1.

On election day, campuses and students can take part in the NC Student Voting Challenge. After voting, students will take a “selfie” wearing their “I voted” sticker, and post the photo to Instagram with the hashtag #NCVotingChallenge. The campus with the most entries will earn a $450 prize for its voter engagement coalition.

Many campus leaders are primed to mobilize peers this election season after participating in the Compact’s voter engagement training series, delivered this summer with the help of several partner organizations. NCPIRG delivered “Understanding the New North Carolina Voting Law,” the Fair Elections Legal Network presented on its “Campus Vote Project,” and TurboVote shared information about its new voter engagement services. The Compact has also collected a trove of state-specific and campus-oriented election resources on our CEEP-NC webpage.

The following member campuses received Voter Engagement Coalition grants or Student Government Association grants:

Bennett College
Davidson College
East Carolina University
Elizabeth City State University
Elon University
Fayetteville State University
Meredith College
Pfeiffer University
Pitt Community College
Queens University of Charlotte
UNC Chapel Hill
UNC Charlotte
UNC Greensboro
UNC Wilmington
Wake Forest University
Western Carolina University

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NC campuses work to monitor, measure community engagement

Dr. Holland was made an "honorary Tarheel" at PACE 2014 for her work with NC colleges.

Dr. Holland was made an “honorary Tarheel” at PACE 2014 for her work with NC colleges.

This week our Compact kicked off the second year of the Monitoring and Measuring Initiative (MMI), a professional development series that helps campuses develop strategies and systems to assess community engagement. Available to all member campuses at no cost, the series includes an online learning community, two or three web-based seminars, one-on-one expert consultation, and an invitation-only workshop held as part of the annual PACE Conference. Seventeen campuses participated in the first year of the MMI; 21 schools will participate this year.

Dr. Barbara Holland, a national expert on higher education community engagement and former director of the National Service-Learning Clearinghouse, led the series last year and returns again as a presenter and consultant. Joining Holland in leading the initiative will be Dr. Robert Bringle, the Kulynych/Cline Visiting Distinguished Professor of Psychology at Appalachian State University, and Dr. Patti Clayton, a Senior Scholar with the Center for Service and Learning at Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) and a Senior Scholar at UNCG.

The MMI series addresses topics ranging from how to develop a campus-wide engagement assessment strategy, to building institutional support among diverse stakeholders to preparing for the Carnegie Foundation’s elective community engagement classification. This year, the initiative will focus on assessing student learning outcomes in the community engagement context.

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Four NC schools ranked among top 20 for service-learning

Four North Carolina colleges and universities are ranked among the nation’s top 20 institutions for service-learning, according to a new survey conducted by the U.S. News & World Report.

Duke University, Elon University, UNC-Chapel Hill, and Warren Wilson College are among the 20 schools most cited for outstanding service-learning programs in the magazine’s 2014 survey of presidents, chief academic officers, and deans from more than 1,500 schools.

The four schools are all members of North Carolina Campus Compact.

As a state, North Carolina had the most schools among the top 20. Michigan was the only other state with more than one school listed; Michigan State and the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor were recognized.

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Campus staff explore asset-based engagement at summer network meetings

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Guilford College’s James Shields shares a campus update at a recent network meeting.

The Compact recently hosted its summer network meetings at UNC Greensboro and Appalachian State. Over 60 community engagement and service-learning staff and faculty attended the free, members-only sessions. Our conversations explored a new resource developed by Minnesota Campus Compact – Asset-Based Community Engagement in Higher Education- as well as strong initiatives at member campuses. We also spent time discussing the value of our statewide network.

The practice of asset-based community development, or “ABCD,” has been around since the early 1990s, when Jody Kretzman and John McKnight published their influential guide, Building Communities from the Inside Out. (Kretzman was a keynote speaker at the Compact’s 2014 PACE Conference.) In Asset-Based Community Engagement in Higher Education, editors John Hamerlinck and Julie Plaut argue that an asset-based approach is essential to sustainable and successful civic and community engagement efforts. Joining the meetings via teleconference, Hamerlinck and Plaut led the groups in an exercise where we shared our own assets and deficiencies and then discussed issues colleges face in implementing asset-based and relationship-based engagement.

One exemplary ABCD project from North Carolina is featured in Hamerlinck and Plaut’s book: UNC Charlotte’s Charlotte Action Research Project (CHARP). Dr. Janni Sorenson and graduate student Tara Bengle’s chapter, “On the Path to Neighborhood Transformation: Social Capital, Physical Improvements, and Empowerment in Partnership,” tells the story of CHARP and its  partnership with community members in the Reid Park neighborhood. Over the course of four years, CHARP students and scholars and Reid Park residents have deliberately focused on neighborhood assets in their shared community development and action research work.

Network meeting attendees at Appalachian State were welcomed by new Chancellor Sheri Everts. Though she had only been on the job for 6 weeks, Chancellor Everts clearly shares the university’s commitment to community engagement. “It is one of the things that drew me to this chancellorship,” Everts told us, in a conference room across from the new offices of Appalachian and the Community Together (ACT).

Along with NC Campus Compact and other partners, Appalachian State will host the third annual NC Campuses Against Hunger Conference September 26-27.

At UNC Greensboro, Emily Janke, director of the Institute for Community and Economic Engagement, welcomed our group and shared news of her office’s recent agreement with TreeTop Commons (formerly Noble Hour) to develop the next version of the Collaboratory engagement database application.

UNCG’s Cathy Hamilton, who serves as the Book Editor of Partnerships, the Compact’s online, peer-reviewed journal, invited network staff to read and review new community engagement texts for the journal.

NC Campus Compact’s interim Executive Director Leslie Garvin shared information about national Campus Compact’s new leadership and priorities, as well as updates on state network conferences PACE and CEI, awards deadlines, and other initiatives, including the Campus Election Engagement Project to promotes student involvement in the 2014 midterms. Compact members and others can preview upcoming events and program deadlines on our calendar.

Staff members from Guilford College and Warren Wilson College shared positive and valuable experiences implementing the National Assessment of Service and Community Engagement on their campuses. A web-based survey for undergraduates developed by the Siena College Research Institute, the NASCE can measure an institution’s level of engagement by evaluating the rate, frequency and depth of student community service activities. Schools that are members of Campus Compact receive a special discount.

Many campuses also shared news of exiting community engagement projects and programs. Here is a sampling:

* Bennett College is planning to begin a Campus Kitchen project. Meredith College started its Campus Kitchen program last year, joining three other NC campuses with ongoing Campus Kitchen programs, including East Carolina University.

* Durham Technical Community College and Wake Technical Community College both have growing on-campus food pantry programs. WTCC recently joined the College and University Food Bank Alliance, joining DTCC and many other NC campuses.

* Elon University shared information about the school’s recently-opened Downtown Center for Community Engagement and the Bio Bus transportation program.  The bus’s new downtown loop facilitates travel to the downtown center and other key community partner agencies.

* NC State University will host the Compact’s CSNAP Student Conference this fall, November 7-8, in Raleigh.

* UNC Wilmington’s Office of Community Partnerships shared news of the university’s successful collaboration with Access Wilmington and other partners to build and support the Miracle Field and playground, accessible facilities that enable residents of all ages to participate in sports leagues and other activities.

 

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HPU President Qubein begins term as NC Campus Compact Board Chair

Nido Qubein, Leo Lambert, Kenneth Peacock during the 2014 PACE Conference. PHOTO BY: JEFF JANOWSKI/UNCW

(L-R) Nido Qubein, Leo Lambert, Kenneth Peacock during the 2014 PACE Conference. PHOTO BY: JEFF JANOWSKI/UNCW

On July 1, Dr. Nido Qubein, president of High Point University, began a three-year term as chairman of North Carolina Campus Compact’s Executive Board. The board is made up of presidents and chancellors from the nearly 40 colleges and universities that are part of the statewide network.

Dr. Qubein’s appointment was announced during the Compact’s annual Pathways to Achieving Civic Engagement (PACE) Conference this past February. He is the third campus leader to serve in this position. Elon University President Leo M. Lambert became the organization’s founding board chair in 2002. In 2008, Appalachian State University Chancellor Kenneth E. Peacock assumed the post and served until stepping down last month.

Qubein became president of High Point University in 2005 and has since transformed HPU’s academic programs and facilities. Since he began his tenure at HPU, undergraduate enrollment has more than tripled, and many new academic initiatives such as the Service Learning program have been launched at HPU. Through this program and numerous other service endeavors, the HPU family contributes more than 100,000 hours of service to the community each year.

A successful entrepreneur and philanthropist, Qubein tells students in his President’s Seminar for freshmen and seniors to focus the efforts of their lives in three areas: one-third on learning, one-third on earning, and one-third on serving. Amidst his successful career, he dedicated time to serve as a director or chairman of many organizations including YMCA of the USA, which oversees 2,600 YMCA’s across the country, the High Point Chamber of Commerce, the United Way of Greater High Point, and the High Point Community Foundation.

“I have observed and admired President Qubein,” says Kenneth E. Peacock, chancellor at Appalachian State University and current chair of the NC Campus Compact executive board. “His vision and transformational leadership will make an invaluable difference for our state’s Compact, an organization that positively impacts the lives of so many people.”

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AmeriCorps VISTA: The Key to Opportunity

Throughout the month of June, North Carolina Campus Compact will be publishing articles written by our VISTA members. These pieces give readers access to first-hand experiences and reflections of VISTAs serving throughout the state. We are excited for them to share their perspectives on community and service with us! 

Please note: Any opinions expressed on the VISTA VIEW blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views, opinions, or policies of North Carolina Campus Compact, the AmeriCorps VISTA program or the Corporation for National and Community Service.

By Brittany Johnson, NC Campus Compact VISTA at the Hospitality House of Boone

Becoming an AmeriCorps VISTA has opened the door to so many opportunities and helped me find my purpose in life.

Becoming an AmeriCorps VISTA has opened the door to so many opportunities and helped me find my purpose in life.

Before serving in AmeriCorps I knew nothing about the program and did not even know it existed. I had no idea about the opportunities it presented and how it would change my life.

Originally from Eastern NC, I grew up in a very small town that I never quite fit into. After a failed attempt at college right after High School, the start of my 20’s was filled with uncertainty and confusion. At 22, I decided to go back to school and figure out my purpose in life. I transferred to Appalachian State University my junior year of college, and since then things have started falling into place. Majoring in Public Relations, I wasn’t 100% sure what I wanted to do after graduation as there were many paths I could take. It wasn’t until my last semester of college that my path became clear.

After loading over $3000 cans donated to the Hospitality House, the late Ron Hurst and I stopped to take a photo together. Ron was a resident at the HH who inspired me and reminded me that he and others like him are why I do my job. He is greatly missed.

After loading over $3000 cans donated to the Hospitality House, the late Ron Hurst and I stopped to take a photo together. Ron was a resident at the HH who inspired me and reminded me that he and others like him are why I do my job. He is greatly missed.

For my senior capstone project, I was paired with Todd Carter, Director of Development for Hospitality House of Boone, to work on a campaign to raise funds and awareness for the nonprofit. After being educated on the homeless and poverty issues in Watauga County and receiving a tour of the amazing facility, I was hooked. I immediately wanted to know more and how I could get involved. Todd was an amazing mentor and his passion was so strong. He inspired me to look beyond my own assumptions of poverty and homelessness and open my eyes to the reality. Throughout the semester-long project I continued to learn so much and develop a passion of my own. I’ve always enjoyed helping people but it was more on a customer service level. Now, I have reached a level that was beyond my imagination and discovered my purpose: to serve others in need.  Todd informed me about the AmeriCorps VISTA program and how Hospitality House was trying to apply for a VISTA to manage a very unique project.  Filled with excitement, I knew this was the program and project for me. After a lot of research, I applied and became the NC Campus Compact AmeriCorps VISTA for Hospitality House of Boone, and it has been the best decision I’ve made since deciding to go back to college.

Since August I have been working on the Enterprise Project, a thrift store that will act as an economic resource to Hospitality House as well as a training facility for building job skills and financial literacy for Hospitality House clients. Starting a business from the ground up is not easy. Eager to apply my marketing and PR skills, I had to reroute that energy into writing a business plan, something I never had done before.  In addition, the location that was originally promised to us by a donor fell through, leaving us with no prospects for the store location. Refusing to quit and be discouraged, I continued to move forward, determined to stop at nothing until the project was successful. In February, I started planning a 5K and a Flapjack Fundraiser to raise money for the business startup costs.  The fundraisers were a success and we earned over $4,100 for the store. The hard work finally started paying off. On June 1st we signed a lease for our new thrift store, Welcome Home Thriftique, where we will sell upscale items such as furniture and home goods. It is so exciting to see this vision come alive. As the repairs are made and walls are painted, what seemed to be impossible at one time is now coming into focus.

Celebrating a successful fundraising event at the Color Blast 5K, raising over $8,000 for my project and Western Youth Network, another community nonprofit!

Celebrating a successful fundraising event at the Color Blast 5K, raising over $8,000 for my project and Western Youth Network, another community nonprofit!

Looking back on a challenging yet amazing year, I realize that I have grown so much. The VISTA program has allowed  me to applythe skills I have in a field that suits my interests and every day I learn something new. Without the amazing staff at Hospitality House, the support of this beautiful community, and the guidance and wisdom of two amazing VISTA supervisors, this would not be possible. The lessons I have learned about the business of nonprofits, poverty issues, and the people I serve are priceless. Fueled by my passion, I work hard for something I truly believe in and realize that I am one of the lucky ones who get to do what they love every day. Being a VISTA has taught me to go beyond my comfort zone and realize my own potential and that with hard work and dedication, anything can be done. I am happy to announce that I have signed up for a second year in this program and I cannot wait to see what the next route of this journey has in store.

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