Scholars Day at Newman University is always an exciting affair, but this year, a campus-wide service element was added to the day’s agenda on Monday, Dec. 5.
Director of Student Success Kate Bussell, one of the coordinators of the Scholars and Service Day, said she “couldn’t be more amazed” at the turnout of volunteers in the afternoon.
In total, Newman students, faculty and staff contributed to:
- 144 total volunteers
- 335 pairs of gloves processed and donated
- 26 pairs of socks processed and donated
- 105 letters written to veterans
- 51 letters written to residents of Villa Maria
- 31 letters written to Maria Court
- 44 letters written to ASC sisters
- 4 students volunteered off campus with Harbor House (included in the 144)
- 6 students helped write Christmas cards for the elderly ASC sisters (included in the 144)
- 8 spaces on campus were cleaned by volunteers and Custodial Services Supervisor Scott Stardy’s team
“Thank you so much for such a successful service day today,” Bussell said.
Scholars Day: An invaluable experience for students
Scholars Day is a one-day event that occurs at the end of each semester. Students showcase their capstone projects and semester-long research in the form of PowerPoint presentations and posters, while staff and faculty assess the students’ hard work.
Nancy Dahlinger, associate professor and director of the occupational therapy assistant program, has served as an assessor or organizer every year since Scholars Day started 10 years ago.
“It’s incredibly beneficial for the students and the faculty because it broadens our depth of exposure to different topics we typically don’t run into in the busyness of our day,” she said.
Students fine-tune their presentation and oral communication skills, design effective posters and presentations and discuss their research in a palatable way. Dahlinger explained that the skills practiced during Scholars Day are “invaluable” as students enter the workforce.
“They’re taking what they’ve been studying, the knowledge they’ve learned and put it together to communicate with their peers and coworkers within the community at large,” Dahlinger said. “The mission of Newman is to empower our students to transform society, and I think Scholars Day gives students the skills necessary to do it in a professional manner.”
Hands-on volunteer projects
Members of the Academic Affairs and Student Support Services teams at Newman University organized service projects for the entire afternoon following Scholars Day. The Newman Cabinet even approved a jeans day for any individual — staff or student — who took the time to volunteer in the afternoon.
Volunteer projects ranged from writing cards for retired ASC sisters and veterans to packaging new socks to be donated to The Lord’s Diner and cleaning the Fugate Gymnasium and De Mattias theater spaces.
Additionally, a group of four students traveled off-campus to volunteer at Harbor House, a safe place for women, children and men experiencing domestic violence. Together, the four students’ service with Harbor House totaled 11 hours worth of volunteer work.
“We appreciate the Newman students who volunteered at Harbor House so much,” added Tressa McHenry, the volunteer coordinator and community liaison for Catholic Charities of Wichita. “They truly did a fantastic job with decorating the shelter for Christmas. The families are already really loving what they see, the kids are noticing and their eyes are lighting up.”
McHenry said Newman students are always welcome back to volunteer, and can take advantage of volunteer opportunities year-round.
Stardy couldn’t stop smiling and said he was impressed and grateful for each and every volunteer who helped clean campus spaces in preparation for winter break. The ASC sisters at the Wichita Center were also appreciative of the help they received from students to write their Christmas cards.
With all student presentations complete and 144 volunteers in total, the first annual Scholars and Service event at Newman was a success.
In an email following the daylong event, Bussell concluded, “I am so proud of our Newman family!”