Published: Tue Mar 9, 2004With the opening of the Promise Volunteer Center at Tennessee Technological University only three weeks away, two young women’s goal to unite university students with organizations that need volunteers is becoming a reality.
This semester, Student Government Association Senators Melissa Ryglewski and Melissa Benjamin authored a bill to create the Promise Volunteer Center to help students more easily locate service activities.
Benjamin and Ryglewski thought that, as Student Government senators, this would be an opportunity to be leaders and make a difference at Tennessee Tech and in the lives of their peers.
“When I came here, I looked for volunteering opportunities and found that it was hard to find anything,” Ryglewski said. “We’re trying to model the volunteer center at [Tennessee] Tech after a center like this at the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee.
“Everyone has been so supportive in this effort, including Leadership Putnam who set up our database and so many others who have taken us under their wing.”
The Promise Volunteer Center opening will be featured during the seventh annual Stonecipher Symposium on Technology, Communication and Culture, with the theme “Engaging a Culture of Service.” The symposium will begin in the afternoon of Monday, March 29, and will last all day on Tuesday, March 30. Participants in the symposium will delve into the issues of why we serve and how professionals can use their technical skills to help the community. Keynote speakers will include Rosie Mauk, AmeriCorps director, and Judith Sealander, noted historian of philanthropy, and local civic organizations will be available during the symposium to distribute information about their services and volunteer needs.
“Giving students easy access to volunteer opportunities increases the likelihood that they will continue to serve their community,” Benjamin said. “Thus, the students and the community are benefited in more ways than one.”
Ryglewski added that volunteering can help students put to use what they are learning in the classroom and can create in them a sense of pride in their community.
The opening of the Promise Volunteer Center comes at a time when Tennessee Tech is increasing its focus on service as a “University of Promise.” With this status, Tennessee Tech partners with the national America’s Promise movement to help lead youth in becoming successful adults.
The campus' Service Learning Committee was also created in Fall 2002 to expose students to service opportunities through classwork. The committee's work will be implemented in classroom settings whereas volunteer work done through the Promise Volunteer Center will be on a personal basis.
“The initiative for this emphasis on service at [Tennessee] Tech came from President Robert Bell’s goal to establish the university as a ‘caring campus’,” said Susan Elkins, Service Learning Committee chair and dean of the School of Interdisciplinary Studies and Extended Education. “We realize that service opportunities can potentially increase retention and help students become better citizens.”