Incoming Freshmen and Transfer Students Introduced to new Community Solutions Cooperative
The message is simple. Individually, students can make a difference. But by working together, students can achieve far greater things. More than 300 new students in the College of Public Service and Community Solutions were formally introduced to a concept designed to help them collectively solve community problems.
Called “SERVECON 2016” — Service Conference — the welcome session introduced the concept of serving the public to students in the college and its four schools: School of Criminology and criminal Justice, School of Social Work, School of Community Resources and Development and School of Public Affairs.
“This is more than an orientation where we say ‘here is where the bathrooms are, here is where you sign up for classes,” said Jonathan Koppell, dean of the College of Public Service and Community Solutions. “It’s to give a sense of belonging of what these new ASU students are joining. It’s something special, a shared dedication to public service.”
SERVECON was held at the AE England building in downtown Phoenix and streamed live for students who couldn’t physically be present. The event kicked off with a presentation of the inaugural Community Service Champion award given to individuals who selflessly better their community in the spirit of public service. Recipients of this year’s award are Miles and Carol Gruenwald and Alondra Ruiz and her husband Miguel Vazquez. The two couples are the backbone of the North Phoenix Christian Soccer Club that serves mostly refugee children, allowing them to play the sport for free. Ruiz and Vazquez also drive the parents of some soccer players to work.
Faculty led ten different breakout sessions for students on a variety of leadership topics, including leading and managing police, mindful community leadership and empowering communities through social transformation.
Alicia Deros, a freshman majoring in tourism management and development, attended a workshop that examined the perceived obstacles that prevent some people from serving in community leadership positions.
“It was interesting to learn about how you can really bring yourself to become a leader and help in your major and in your field,” said Deros. “It was very empowering.”
During their lunch break, students were lead in a game of jeopardy by Alberto Olivas, the director of the Congressman Ed Pastor Center for Politics and Public Service. The game tested student’s knowledge of the electoral process and underscored the importance of voting.
For Grace Ramsey, a criminology and criminal justice major, SERVECON 2016 was an opportunity to connect with new classmates.
“I think having a good community and building relationships is a big part of actually making a difference at your school and the community in general,” Ramsey said.
The event is part of a larger college initiative called the “Public Service and Community Solutions Cooperative,” Co-Op for short. All new undergraduate students in the College of Public Service and Community Solutions are required to take a solutions-based learning class. A self-prepared community impact statement will help students identify a social issue to work on.The goal is to get students involved in the local community by challenging them to think critically about public service in a way that can benefit their careers and the communities they serve.
The Community Solutions Cooperative will offer students the opportunity to participate in specific courses, internships and service learning projects. They also will have the chance to work on research with professors and take part in community impact labs.
At the end of SERVECON, students were formally inducted into the Community Solutions Cooperative, pinning Co-Op pins to their classmate’s shirts and blouses. Students also received a Co-Op t-shirt featuring the Co-Op logo with the name and an image of clasped hands.
“Having SERVECON is just the perfect way to start your time as a Sun Devil in the College of Public Service and Community Solutions,” said Koppell. “It will charge up your batteries, it will get you ready to go.
“It will give you a purpose and meaning to take you through the tough times when maybe that work seems a little bit harder and little challenging. This is what’s going to get you through.”