Ten faculty-led projects chosen to receive STAR Engagement grants

STARS Engagement_bowl

WCU ceramics students gather with the bowls they created for the Community Table and ceramics program coordinator Heather Mae Erickson (right). The bowl project was one of 10 community engagement initiatives to receive a WCU STAR Engagement grant.

How far can $500 go? For 10 community engagement projects involving Western Carolina University students, far enough to provide valuable service to some worthy causes.

The 10 WCU initiatives have been named STAR Engagement Projects and will receive grants of $500 for activities, conferences and related opportunities during the academic year. Recent examples include an expo for youth and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities conducted by a psychology course, a promotions effort by a public relations class and the university’s cycling club to expand support for a local health care clinic, and a natural science collaboration with a federal agency to determine climate impacts on isolated wetlands.

Service engagement projects allow campus participation in community betterment activities, with two distinct ― but not mutually exclusive ― purposes: student learning related to an academic discipline, and meeting an identified need within the region or other geographical area.

“These projects are submitted through the Community-based Activities Survey of 150-word abstracts and reviewed to determine the top project in a curricular area,” said Lane Perry, director of WCU’s Center for Service Learning. “The program has a focus on exemplary projects involved in a mutually beneficial and collaborative community partnership that have a clear involvement of students.”

Perry said the STAR Engagement Projects reflect the high premium WCU places on the mission to be an engaged university. It also highlights the many shared concerns and relationships between WCU and Western North Carolina.

The selected 10 projects and category currently represented:

Health Care Enrollment: Informing Western North Carolinians on Affordable Insurance

Food Insecurity: Fundraising for United Christian Ministries of Jackson County

Health and Poverty: Hold health fairs for Asheville homeless

Disability Psychology: Host LifeSpan Activity Expo

Innovation/Technology: Free repair guides to reduce e-waste

Public Relations and Public Health: Build awareness of Good Samaritan Clinic of Jackson County

Youth Development: Recreational therapy with HIGHTS Program of Haywood, Jackson counties

Environment: Assess climate impacts on isolated wetlands in Ocala National Forest, Florida

Ceramics Education: Craft 100 handmade bowls for Sylva Community Table

Cherokee Language Education: Design and develop games for learning Cherokee pronouns

“Thank you for continuing to support our students’ learning and WCU’s mission of engagement with your work,” Carol Burton, WCU associate provost for undergraduate studies, told recipients. “We are a better institution for your efforts and your commitment to engagement.”

To learn more about service-learning involvement and activities, go to http://www.wcu.edu/learn/academic-enrichment/center-for-service-learning/ or contact Perry at laneperry@wcu.edu or 828-227-2643.