Each semester, many Weber State University students pull themselves away from their academic demands to volunteer within their community and on campus. Projects range from homeless outreach to the Special Olympics. Students coordinate these activities from campus and are responsible for many feats of altruism within Ogden.
One of these students is Melissa Richards, the chair of the Center for Community Engaged Learning. She participated in the Make a Difference Day in May.
“We helped fix up and get the gardens ready at Oasis Community Garden in Ogden,” Richards said. “It was so much fun, and it was great, because we got the garden beds ready for people of the community to come and plant in.”
Richards said that service has improved her experience at WSU.
“Service has helped improve my college experience by allowing me to give back to the community,” she said. “It also gives my mind a break from all my schoolwork and makes me so happy.”
Richards said she recommends all students get involved in volunteering.
“Students should participate in service because it truly makes your life better,” she said. “I have never been happier than when I am serving people. It also allows you to meet some amazing people up at Weber, plus it looks great on resumes.”
The CCEL was awarded the prestigious Carnegie Classification for Community Engagement in 2008 (when it was known as the Community Involvement Center). According to its mission statement, “The Center For Community Engaged Learning, formerly the Community Involvement Center, established in June 2007, is a strategic partnership between Academic Affairs and Student Affairs that provides both curricular and co-curricular community engagement opportunities for students, faculty and staff in partnership with local community organizations for all affiliated with WSU. Students, faculty, staff, alumni and community partners come to the CCEL to create connections and opportunities to give service, to grow through learning and experience, and to build a community that thrives.”
Another leader within the CCEL is Ibrahim Sirptathane, the special service events chair within the service team. Working with organizations such as the Red Cross and the Utah Special Olympics, he coordinates WSU’s efforts to aid projects around the WSU and Ogden community.
Siriptathane, like Richards, said his involvement in service has helped him personally.
“Service has improved my college experience so much,” he said. “I used to walk around Weber, attend classes and then leave. It’s harder to have the full college experience unless you live on campus, and getting the chance to be on the GOC for the Special Olympics really gives a purpose to the university, and it comes along with realizations that there are many opportunities to get involved on campus and improve your college experience. There are many chances to work on campus or join a service group that works off campus, and it brings going to college a whole new meaning.”
Siriptathane said he also encourages students to get involved and serve their fellow Wildcats.
“Service can be done anywhere, any time and with anyone,” he said. “This may sound cliche, but service really does bring joy not only to those you serve, but to yourself as well. Weber, being an awesome university, provides an excellent department devoted to serving. So don’t make Weber just a commuter school. Make it the full college experience. There are so many opportunities that Weber provides, and you just have to want it.”
The CCEL will feature an open gym every Monday and Wednesday at 6–7:30 p.m. More information is available at the CCEL office and at weber.edu/ccel.