The Center for Community Engaged Learning (CCEL) welcomed new Executive Director Becky Jo Gesteland to the team. CCEL encourages student community engagement on campus.
Gesteland is from Salt Lake City and received her Ph.D from the University of Utah in American Studies, an interdisciplinary course which included English, Women’s Studies and Western History.
Gesteland first came to Weber State University in 2000 to teach technical writing in the English Department, which she will continue to do along with her new position.
Aside from teaching multiple classes, Gesteland is also the Associate Dean in the Lindquist College of Arts and Humanities.
“I have always been interested in CCEL, so after I had 10 years here at Weber State, I felt like I needed to do something to invigorate my teaching,” Gesteland said.
From there, Gesteland had multiple administrative positions, including FYE coordinator, assistant chair and the Engaged Series Coordinator.
Gesteland expressed her excitement for her new position, saying how nice and welcoming everyone in the office is.
“The people here are amazing,” Gesteland said.
The faculty and staff in the CCEL look forward to the change as well.
“Becky is a person that makes connections,” said Mike Moon, assistant director of the CCEL. “She is well in tune with our academic side of the house of academic affairs, she has good relationships with administration and she totally understands the student affairs side of the house. She is uniquely poised to make really great connections and as a result, some really cool things will happen.”
Gesteland described the CCEL as a way Weber State is able to set itself apart from other universities. The CCEL is an outreach center available on campus to give students opportunities to learn and grow through working with community partners
“There are so many options to choose from to get involved,” Gesteland said. “You meet these people and they are an incredible network for you.”
The main goal of the CCEL is to not only create these community connections for students, but also to teach students so they are able to be involved elsewhere.
“We absolutely want [students] to graduate not only with a diploma, but with a resume,” Moon said. “The CCEL is building their resume. We want them to graduate with skills that make them marketable in the job field. That makes graduate school and other higher education an option.”
In addition to offering service opportunities for students, the CCEL also oversees the service team on campus, which is part of the WSU Student Association. Patrick Luo, sophomore at Weber State, is the service team vice president this year.
Luo explained that his involvement with the CCEL has not only helped him be involved, but it has helped him gain new relationships and work on his problem-solving skills, which, in turn, have helped him in other areas of his life.
“I really enjoy engaging with all the students and just seeing how, once they realize there’s some issues within the community, know that one simple and small act of kindness has a huge ripple effect. It really helps me and empowers me to boost my moral to try to have more of a difference out there,” said Luo.
Luo related his love of encouraging others to engage in volunteer opportunities to teaching a little kid to ride a bike for the first time.
“You just see this spark light up in their face, and it’s something that I really enjoy when engaging other students into these types of opportunities,” Luo said.
Students interested in volunteering on campus, or with the community, can visit the CCEL and pick up a calendar of monthly events, or log onto Weber Connect to check out the service team’s calendar of upcoming events.
“A student that is just focused in the classroom will have a much different graduating portfolio than the students that are graduating from the CCEL because they have been so involved in the community and with other people,” Moon said.