South Carolina Campus Compact
Navy Officer Candidate Pierce Weller, a senior Psychology major with Applied Physics minor, has always been an active contributor in service learning. However, he has now emerged as a leader of truly exceptional proportion, developing and implementing new programs with some of Charleston’s most challenged school populations. Inspired and trained by John Yeager, visiting author of the SMART Strengths curriculum, Pierce almost single-handedly led groups of cadets and graduate students in tailoring the curriculum (initially developed with high income boarding school students) to high risk youth in four of Charleston’s most underachieving schools. Students at risk to drop out or to be expelled - youth who hear much more about their problems than their strengths- were empowered and inspired by this outstanding role model to apply their strengths toward helping others and improving their own academics. As a senior he has invested hundreds of hours in replicating and evaluating the programs, developing manuals, and training his sophomore and junior successors so that the SMART Strengths program will be sustainable even after he graduates. His scholarly evaluation of the program’s impact, presented at the 2013 National Conference for Service Learning, will insure that his efforts impact at-risk students beyond our state.Honorable Mention for South Carolina Student Service Achievement Award
Ashley Cowden directs Clemson’s Client Based Program (CBP), a service - learning program that pairs Clemson business and technical writing classes with local clients who need communication deliverables. Since 2003, 194 classes, 4,807 students, 30 faculty and 191 non-profit and on-campus clients have participated in CBP. Students have produced over 1,225 deliverables, including such items as white papers, research reports, fact sheets, brochures, presentations, instruction manuals, web sites, multimedia presentations, and radio, TV, and print advertisements. Ashley’s classes have been working with nonprofit clients for ten years and she manages an average of 40 service-learning projects a year. As one community partner said of Ashley’s classes, “We have been able to have students work with us developing a policy and procedures handbook, staff and volunteer job descriptions, promotional literature, and a wonderful website. Without the assistance of these students, we would not have had the exposure in our community we have now.”
Encouraging extremely busy student-athletes to devote time to outreach and service can be challenging. However, it has become Erica Nelson’s passion to facilitate student-athlete’s learning beyond the classroom through service. As the Coordinator of Life Skills and Outreach, Erica oversees “Team Gamecocks” which represents the bringing together of all University of South Carolina student-athletes for the purpose of conducting community service and outreach to Columbia, SC and the surrounding area. In 2011-2012, through Erica’s leadership, all 18 sports teams made over 200 appearances and contributed over 5,300 hours of service to the community. This is an increase of nearly 2,000 hours from 2010-2011 and results in an average of 10 hours of volunteer service per student-athlete. A sampling of some of the service projects student-athletes engaged in included reading and speaking to elementary and middle school children, visiting patients at the Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital, participating in Dance Marathon and Relay for Life events, helping to sort and organize donations at the Harvest Hope Food Bank, and even spending their spring and summer breaks on service trips to Mexico, El Salvador, and Haiti. Erica’s efforts have enhanced the culture of service within the Department of Athletics and helped student-athletes integrate and apply their learning beyond the classroom.Honorable Mention for South Carolina Civic Engagement Professional Award
For the past 2 years, Christmas in Action Spartanburg (CIA) and USC Upstate have established a partnership for the grant-funded program “Young Meets Old” project in which college students help to repair/rebuild homes of the elderly and disabled in the Spartanburg community. Without CIA’s help, many of these homeowners would have to leave their homes due to mobility or health concerns. The collaboration has been a continuous program in which rebuild days are offered multiple times per semester. Christmas in Action embraces the reciprocal concept of student learning and engagement Students learn about the history of Spartanburg while interacting with the homeowners and the students also gain valuable home repair skills through a Lowes training class. In addition, CIA partnered with USC Upstate to host a Break Away Alternative Break Conference in August in which 60+ students from across the country learned about how to plan alternative breaks and repair 4 homes in the community. Christmas in Action’s partnership was so well received that Iowa State University plans to bring an Alternative Spring Break group to Spartanburg in March to work specifically with CIA. Christmas in Action is a non-profit organization that rehabilitates the houses of low-income, elderly, disabled, and otherwise disadvantaged homeowners, to provide for their continued safety and independence. Christmas In Action home repair projects focus on providing immediate improvement to the safety and security of the homeowner. They look to safeguard the homeowner from critical internal and external hazards. The organization was founded due to the great need throughout Spartanburg County for home rehabilitations. Christmas In Action's goal is to continue serving this often forgotten population, working as a force for the prevention and elimination of sub-standard housing in the Upstate.
Honorable Mention for South Carolina Engaged Community Partner Award