Student Engagement Opportunities Surge
The office of Community and Civic Engagement (CCE) is working to provide more opportunities for students to get involved throughout the community at the installation of N.C. Promise.
Increase in community partners
“We’ve been increasing the number of community partners that we have so that we can offer students more opportunities to be engaged in the community in whatever areas they’re interested in,” said Christie Poteet, director of the office of Community and Civic Engagement.
Community partners are organizations, companies and individuals who work with students in building internship experience and providing service opportunities. Students are paired with these partners by their skills, interests and majors to gain more knowledge and experience in their desired field.
“Because we know that N.C. Promise will probably bring in more distance ed students, we have started reaching out to partners outside of our own county so that we can offer service opportunities wherever our students are,” Poteet said.
Doing so allows distance education students the same opportunities for service as those who engage on campus and throughout the community of Pembroke. So far, CCE has surpassed the number of partners outside of the local area by 20 percent this year alone, Poteet said.
Currently CCE has over 150 community partners.
Also, programs like Literacy Commons, which focus on elementary education literacy, financial literacy and career readiness will be revamped in the Fall, Poteet said.
“Through participant centered classes and workshops, individualized tutoring, and inspiring and enriching community events and collaborations, The Literacy Commons fosters, advances, and sustains the development and continuation of literacy,” as stated on the UNCP Serve website.
Through these programs, CCE hopes to connect campus and community members, while fostering a sense of educational and service learning opportunities.
Additionally, the CARE, community career readiness resource center on campus, which consists of a food pantry and clothing closet to serve both the campus and surrounding community, is changing its policies for community members.
In order for community members to continue receiving food from the pantry, they will have to attend and participate in career readiness workshops led by students, Poteet said. Due to the potential rise in student enrollment, serving the community may become more difficult.
According to the CARE center’s website, “Students are welcome to visit the pantry twice per month, while community members, faculty, and staff are welcome one per month.” The CARE center is operated primarily by student workers and volunteers.
“We don’t think of service as just going out and picking trash up off of the side of the road,” Poteet said. “We think of service as how do you one, use your skills and talents to benefit others and make an impact, but also at the same time, build more skills and experiences in your areas that you can be employable. We want it to be beneficial for the student and beneficial for the community.”
Freshmen learning courses
“We really try to engage students as soon as they get on campus so we are working with the center for student success to implement a lot of service learning which is incorporated into the course curriculum during their first two semesters,” Poteet said.
Engaging incoming freshmen is vital to improving retention rates. When students feel connected with the campus and community through service and engagement, they feel that they belong and can grow both personally and professionally.
According to Poteet, “Students who are engaged in service in the first two semesters are retained at a rate of 76 percent compared to other students who are retained at only 68 percent.”