The Newman University community strives to embody the same spirit of service as its founders, the Adorers of the Blood of Christ.
Beyond studying to earn a degree, students of Newman are encouraged to grow holistically through service opportunities on campus and within the Wichita community. This culture of service sets the Newman experience apart — not only for students but also for faculty and staff.
On March 24, students, faculty and staff packaged bags of rice containing soy protein, freeze-dried pinto beans and a blend of vitamins and minerals targeted to help the immune system of malnourished people. This effort was organized by Numana, an international hunger relief organization based in El Dorado, Kansas.
Together, the Newman community prepared 22,000 bags of food for Numana’s hunger relief efforts in Haiti.
“(For the Numana project) we had 20 people for every half-hour slot from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.,” said Sister Therese Wetta, ASC, director of mission effectiveness at Newman. “It’s a reflection of our commitment to a greater cause.”
Although this certainly was not the first campus-wide service project, it reminded community members of the university’s commitment to service. Other recent Newman service opportunities include Habitat for Humanity group builds, campus beautification projects, student-led capstone projects, donation drives and more.
“The Newman community is a truly generous and giving community, and I think that’s especially true of this year when we’ve designated two days to service,” Wetta added.
An integrated commitment to service
A student’s education at Newman doesn’t simply entail buying books, going to class, taking tests and going home. The experience is enhanced with the lifelong skills and gifts that service brings: a greater awareness of community needs, tapping into the leadership potential of every student, as well as getting the most out of each “Degree of Difference” at Newman University.
Three of Newman’s top scholarships have a built-in community service aspect.
Wetta teaches servant leadership courses for the ASC Service Award recipients, who must complete 45 hours of community service each semester. Wetta said it brings her joy and comfort to learn that the service hours have become less of a requirement and more of a lifestyle for the students.
“Several of them expressed in their reflections that at the beginning of the semester it was a requirement, but by the end it was something they wanted to continue to do,” Wetta explained.
Erika Pearson, a graduate of Bishop Carroll Catholic High School, is a current Newman sophomore studying diagnostic medical sonography. Coming from a high school that encouraged service from all its students, Pearson said it “trained me very well” for a service-integrated school such as Newman.
“The idea that you can go somewhere for your job or school and still make an impact in different ways is special,” Pearson said. “It’s not just a going through the motions kind of deal. You can find something outside of what your just day-to-day schedule looks like that can make someone else happy, be a role model for others … and experience how rewarding that is.”
Several athletic teams at Newman participate in service opportunities as a group.
Athlete Stephen Phiri said volunteering as a team “feels like we’re building a bigger bond than just on the field.”
“It’s more than just soccer now,” he said. “It’s a brotherhood.”
Staff and faculty are also encouraged to use employee volunteer hours to support nonprofits and other charity organizations every semester.
For Timothy Cho, director of the respiratory care program, the service-centered job was one of the main draws to working at Newman.
“Service provides an opportunity for me to live out the mission of Newman while at work, with my colleagues and students,” Cho said. “Then they have the opportunity to see the direct impact they can have on other peoples’ lives, and it makes it very tangible.”
He added, “I’ve been blessed to have a lot of people in my life who’ve assisted me along my journey, so it’s nice to be able to do that for others.”
A global perspective
Wetta said developing a global perspective is another perk of integrating service at Newman, and is, fittingly, one of the four core values of the university.
From age 20 to 27, grant manager Victor Chavez spent all his time volunteering. It was only after these years of service that he kickstarted his career. During his years spent in service, he developed a greater understanding of the need for service — a gift that is needed all around the world.
“Participating in service projects means a lot as an employee, but it also gives our students that opportunity to grow as a person and give them more of a worldly experience in terms of their place in the world,” Chavez said.
Wetta emphasized that service “takes us out of ourselves” and reminds every person of his or her own blessings.
“Service reminds us how circumstances prevent other people from having the same blessings we are experiencing,” she added. “We really, as brothers and sisters in the global family, need to be aware of and reach out to support those who don’t have the same blessings.”
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Newman University’s mission statement is grounded in the following core values: Catholic identity, academic excellence, culture of service and global perspective.